Animals don’t like to pose for a picture, and this is what distinguishes animal portrait painting from human portraiture. It requires real work on the part of the artist to maintain an animal’s attention. This is the forte of a Wilmington artist. She is also a Delaware, which is a prominent family locally. She has a grandfather whose artwork included a famous collection of sea and landscape paintings. Incidentally, this female artist began to paint at 3 years old.
Most of her drawings were those of animals. Two years after she had her one child show at the local library at the young age of 10, she was already illustrating children’s books. Thanks to her famous Philadelphia teachers, she became acquainted with the world of dance. She was an incredible dancer and danced solo performances, including one convincing death scene, for many years.
She does portraits of different animals, but she mainly does dogs. It is interesting to watch her as she begins doing the dog’s portrait. She draws different sketches while the owner tries to keep the dog from moving too much.
Her pencil just seems to move like the wind over her sketchpad as she looks for the most characeteristic pose for her model. In the meantime she is constantly talking to the dog, telling him how beautiful he is, what a good dog and so forth. She uses props to continuously hold the animal’s attention and keep him interested. She gets the photos of the dog that the owner has and seeks his approval for any duplication of the photos she may want to include in her collection. She matches the different colors in the dog’s hair by cutting snips from the tail, ears, and tummy. She files the snips under the name of the dog who owns them.
She picks out a pose and the perfect background for the picture. The latter is chosen based from the type of dog or animal. She stayed in a duck blind and made sketches just for the portrait of one Chesapeake Bay retriever.
Dogs already have their own views, just like people, she observed. One American pointer proved to be quite a connoisseur as the artist was sketching him he crept up behind her and chewed up her worst painting. He had to get large doses of medicine for that reaction toward the painting, so it must have been a really bad one.
For portraits of beagles and bassets, she puts in scenery and a paw print and then proceeds to putting the symbols of the kennel club on the back. With the help of her own dog, she created abstract backgrounds. Cooperation is not an animal’s gift to man in most cases. One of her models ran off with a female dog, thus ending whatever painting was supposed to take place on that day. This may seem like an ordinary thing, but it does make one wonder if the unusual always happens while an animal’s portrait is being painted.
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