High on a shelf in the front room I see a photo of our long gone dog. What fun Bonnie was. Thing is I started drawing dogs long before we got her, which is not to say that from the minute she walked in the door she wasn't a huge boon to my " canine research.” She was 6 months old when we got her from an animal shelter in Los Angeles after seeing her at a Beverly Hills art fair where we were selling my art. One afternoon, a woman working for an animal shelter came into our booth with this beautiful black dog on a leash, the dog wearing a t-shirt saying: ADOPT ME. A couple days after the show, back home in Ojai, 90 miles north of LA, I mentioned to Margaret that I couldn't get the black dog wearing the ADOPT ME t-shirt out of my head. We both agreed instantly and absolutely that the last thing we needed then was a dog. A few days later we drove back to LA and got Bonnie from the shelter. And for the next 15 years we marveled at her ever-expanding understanding, and the downy soft fur on the top of her head that smelled like it came from Mars.
Anyway, while I was wandering around the house a couple days ago, wondering what the heck the subject of my next blog post might be—especially since I hadn't seriously started blogging yet— and I saw this painting (above) and stopped to look closer. While I was looking, the idea came to me that I could just mosey around the house (something I was doing anyway), shoot a few photos, then write a little about what I found in the process. Truth is I was dealing with a mind-numbing, week long jet-lag — New Zealand to US, 20 hours door to door—and even though I needed to start blogging (because I promised) I also knew I wasn't capable of thinking straight for long.
So, as I stood looking, waiting for things to settle while feeling for the gear that might get me going, I gave myself a little pep-talk saying whatever I did with this post didn't need to be the final word on anything... kindling to start the fire, that's all. And so, having convinced myself to go forth and get it done, I began again to look around, and these are some of the things I saw...
(Painting above, 18"x24") Margaret, I think, bought it at a thrift store. It's not signed so I can't give the artist credit. It's got a nice feel and a good sincere spirit I think. Perky little fella...obviously a portrait of a beloved pet. I love "amateur" art (more on this another time).
I made a series called DOG WITH BONE (circa 2000) cut out of 1/8" hardboard that
I painted then added a "leg" to make each one free standing. I always thought it
would be fun to make more, but then I rarely revisit where I've been, so so far that hasn't happened.
Truth is ZenDogs and this website is a kind of return to the old days for me...I started drawings dogs a long time ago, discovering then, as now, that I can use them to say a lot about anything—light stuff, heavy stuff— make dogs my "front men". Do dogs care that I use them for personal gain? Probably not. Ever known a dog who said no to doing anything when somebody they like invites them to participate?
I loved making this series of little object/pictures.Circa 2005. The idea was to make a picture to hang on the wall, and simultaneously, to make a pin someone could wear. 2 in 1, so to speak. The overall dimensions are 5"x7" (background) with the pin being 3.5"x2.25". The background is galvanized sheet metal mounted on wood with a picture hanger on the back. The pin is mounted to the metal with a magnet, same with the small engraved title/signature panel below the pin (I love magnets). The pin image is a print of one of my paintings. I mounted the print on the sheet metal and glued a brooch pin mechanism on the back. I really liked this idea and tried selling them (assorted images and sizes) in a high end craft store in Seattle, the perfect place with the perfect clientele, so I thought. Sold one in 3 months. And since this was an attempt to make an actual product, I decided there was no point in pushing on, since I had plenty of other irons in the fire then too. I still like the idea though.
On the bookshelf—Two Richard Stine books of dog drawings. SMILE IN A MAD DOGS I - self published in 1974 (See below) and RANDOM DOGS - self published in 1975. Both published later by mainstream publishers.
SMILE IN A MAD DOG'S I, (first edition). This was how the first edition book looked. My first