A WORD ABOUT THE FIRST DOG PAINTINGS
While I was learning to work with the idiosyncracies of my paint (see discussion here), I also started developing my own subject. Just before the paintings you see above, I had been painting images of foods that I recalled from my childhood growing up in surburban NJ in the late 1960s and early 70s: things like Pop-Tarts, Tang, and Carnation Instant Breakfast.
One day I started painting a chocolate confection--I recall a kind of Hostess cake-y thing centered against a baby-blue background. At some point I got restless with the painting and picked up a photograph I had lying around my studio. I can't quite remember where the image came from, whether this was one I took myself or one that I found in a magazine, but I had been collecting photos of dogs for a while because I had become frustrated at my inability to attract the attention of galleries and I had begun to sympathize with painters like Manet or Renoir who had turned to painting dogs to earn a living. I thought it might be fun to paint a "mock portrait" one day, but I certainly wasn't antiicipating that this would be that day. The more I stared at that photo though, and the more I looked back at the painting that was frustrating me, the more I thought the time was right.
So, holding the photo in my hand I started re-working the image into the painting of Lulu you see above. When I finished I stepped back from the painting and started laughing because the idea of painting a portrait of a dog seemed both completely ridiculous and completely right.