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Dave's Dogs

Large Scale Portrait Painting

When my friend David Watson commissioned me I wasn't sure what I would do for his large, site-specific painting to compliment his home and the art he already had.
And then I met his rescue dogs.
The idea of a triple portrait became the clear choice for both David and me.

The final work is in three sections totaling five by nine feet. We are both really happy about the outcome of this collaboration.

The process took a while, but it was really fun.

The first step was visiting the site of the commission. I took photos of the dogs, the interior of David's home, and landscapes that resembled South Bay views and made a composite to visualize the concept.

I selected a limited palette of colors to work with so I could unify the design.

I painted a miniature version showing the 3 panel concept so I could help David see what it might look like painted, and not as a photograph.

I used Photoshop to mock it up and help us see how it would look in the house where he intended to hang it. I emailed the image to him, and he very much liked it.

After he approved the idea, I drew the basic shapes onto the canvas panels that I hung in my studio.

I blocked in some basic colors for the dogs on the couch.

Refinements to the general shapes of the dogs and the background were added over a period of about 2 weeks.

The trick was to make the dogs come alive, so there was a lot of detail added. Without the subjects being right, the background would not matter.

Finally I felt like I had captured their personalities and I finalized the fabrics and landscape details behind the dogs.

I was ready to call David over and show him the final version. He loved it, we were all so happy. The only small change he asked for was to add their names to the dog tags. I was happy to do it. I put a final coat of semi-gloss finish over them and let them cure for a little over a week.

Then we drove the panels down to David's home in Eastlake and were thrilled to see them inside their new home.

Marc Baza, a professional art handler, was called on to do the installation. It was pretty tricky, a 2nd story wall above a winding staircase.

Marc was very precise about adding the hardware to the back of my canvas panels.

He climbed his big ladder and hung the middle panel first.

It seemed to go quickly, and he had the right side panel up and was adding hardware for the final panel on the left.

David and I were super thrilled to see the final hanging. Marc had done a perfect job.

Marc was pleased too.

We are not sure if the doggies know they have been immortalized in their own life time, but they seemed to like it.

A great adventure and a wonderful outcome, thanks David!