The Portraitsphere : Kids Against Lab Beagles

"Louie" by Kat

It’s time to venture into The Portraitsphere once again, and this time we’re off to Pasadena to visit the world of a cool kid named Kat. But before we leave on this journey, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of the talented people on this planet who choose to “use their power for good”, because that’s the theme for today. Let’s go!

Kat is an 11-year-old kid who loves beagles and she has one named Bentley. She put a beagle on the top of her Christmas list one year and her parents agreed that if she’d do enough research about them in advance, she could get one. Somewhere along that path, Kat discovered the horrific reality of laboratories that keep beagles in cages and force them to spend their lives suffering and enduring constant torture and pain in sadistic tests. Now to me, the fact that an innocent child full of excitement about adopting a rescue beagle for Christmas stumbles upon this cruel practice just adds another sad dimension.

But Kat was clever and she knew just what to do. She has talent, lots of it, and she’s using it for good. She’s an artist, and she paints — what else — beagles! She sells her paintings on her own website and donates 100% of the proceeds to an organization called The Beagle Freedom Project. I just bought this watercolor, titled Lola —

Lola watercolor by Kat

— and there are so many others —

Paintings by Kat

She loves painting, and she does as many as she can in between all of her other activities and school. Her parents underwrite the cost of her materials and manage her sales, so she’s free to paint up a storm. She churns out paintings based on beagles she knows but she will also create custom portraits. There are also lots of items available here on Zazzle.com featuring her beautiful paintings, including a 2014 calendar that I recently ordered as a gift. Proceeds from these products also go to support The Beagle Freedom Project.

And here, of course, is a photo of the artist with her pal Bentley when they brought him home (I think she loves him) —

Kat and Bentley

If you would like to check out Kat’s paintings and make contact for getting one of your own (she’s spending extra time over the holidays beefing up her inventory!), please visit her website Kids Against Lab Beagles here.

For more information about The Beagle Freedom Project, visit their website here.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

The Portraitsphere: Paul Boddum

R.P. by artist Paul Boddum

It’s Friday and a good time for an excursion into the Portraitsphere! This time we’re zipping off to Toronto, Canada to check out the work of artist Paul Boddum.

Lucy by artist Paul Boddum

Here is a portion of Paul’s artist statement as it relates to dogs in his work:

“The original idea for his twenty-four year ongoing series of dog works began during a trip to a dog show in the mid-1980’s. The source of Paul’s early works were photos he had taken there as well as sourcing vintage dog breed books at second hand book shops. Not having his own dog at the time, his ongoing series was influenced by oberving other city dwellers’ dogs; everyday joyful interactions between dogs, owners, and strangers had a unique positive energy that gave a big urban city a warmth and added to the fabric of a healthy community.

Paul is continually inspired by seeing people’s connection to their pets, how they enrich their lives, and become a part of their family. Growing up as an adoptee, Paul has always been interested in exploring the effects of nature versus nurture, and the transformative bond that forms from the domestic pet’s innate need to be cared for by others. Paul is also a long time vegetarian.”

Three Studies of Brody by artist Paul Boddum

Paul’s abstract paintings (without dogs) are also wonderful explorations of color and texture, expressionistic journeys influenced of memories, dreams and music. And when he combines this approach with the portrait of a dog, I find the result to be incredibly reassuring. A lot of people seem to request artist commissions of their dog after its passing, and by creating such a thoughtful background environment it seems very comforting to me. In other words, we’re not quite sure exactly where this place or space is because we can’t identify shapes or forms that are familiar to us, but it’s dreamlike and poetic. Our beloved is there, they’re safe, and it’s a beautiful image to behold.

Autumn by artist Paul Boddum

Summer by artist Paul Boddum

Katrina_Survivor

Jasper and Cooper by artist Paul Boddum

Paul works mostly in acrylics, adding thick layers of a gel medium at the end that creates an encaustic type of surface. Working from photos, he strives to make each painting a unique original customized to clients’ size, style and color requests. Although he’s based in Toronto much of his work is from outside of the area, ordered online. His paintings can be found in homes across the US, Canada, and internationally.

In addition to being a gifted artist, Paul is also big-hearted: he’s devoted to helping animal charities by donating portrait commissions and original paintings to raise money on a regular basis.

Here is a listing of Paul’s upcoming exhibitions if you would like to see his work in person.

You can visit Paul Boddum’s website here, to see more of his work.

All images courtesy and copyright Paul Boddum.

Typographic Tuesday: Mary Oliver

"Dog on Beach" by Shannon BuekerThe First Time Percy Came Back, by Mary Oliver

Today’s Typographic Tuesday honors National Poetry Month here in America and it’s brought to you by big dose of serendipity (which, I love): this morning I asked my yoga instructor Shannon after class if she could recommend a great dog poem and her eyes lit up. The book she was holding in her hands is by one of her favorite poets, Mary Oliver, and she quickly found this one for me. I knew it would be perfect, a little bit sad but mostly uplifting and tender. Shannon is a very talented artist, and I’ve wanted to feature her work here for a while and as it turns out, one of the three watercolors of hers that I own is this one titled “Dog on Beach”. That makes me want to say “spoooooky…” but I’m just going to say “ommmmmmmm!” Thanks, Shannon!

“The First Time Percy Came Back” is from A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver. A great bio—and a lovely photo with her dog—can be found here.

Artist Shannon Bueker’s work can be found on her website here.

The Portraitsphere: Ian Mason

Work by artist Ian Mason

As my dad used to say every morning (much to my teenage chagrin) “Wakey, wakey!” We’re starting this week off with an adventure to the Portraitsphere! And this time you should probably pack a raincoat, because we’re heading to jolly old England to visit the truly jaw-dropping work of artist Ian Mason. And forget the big cities. We’re heading out to the countryside, through the villages and shires and something-upon-somethings, to the beautiful seaside destination of Cornwall. So get yourself a packet of Wine Gums or Allsorts, or perhaps a nice cup of tea for the journey. When we get there, you won’t actually believe your eyes.

Ink, paint, charcoal, paper, canvas. Every piece is so expressive. His technique is the kind that you just don’t find very often with lines that are so deliberate and confident, yet nothing is lost in translating the subject’s personality and a moment in time. You know these dogs, or at least you certainly feel like you do.

Works by Cornwall artist Ian Mason

The nonchalant raised eyebrow on the black Labrador, the Churchill-esque blasé expression of the French bulldog, the thoughtful eyes of the greyhound. How do you decide which ones to feature in a post? It was impossible, so I kept going:

Works by Cornwall artist Ian Mason

I have to say that I’m really smitten with Ian Mason’s portraits to an unhealthy state. Let me put it this way: if I was invited to Windsor Castle and wanted to bring a gift for Prince William and Kate, I would phone Mr. Mason for a portrait of their little dog…but I’m pretty sure that I’d end up keeping it for myself. Nope, wouldn’t give it up. Not even for all the Wine Gums in the world.

If you would like to see more of Ian Mason’s work, visit his website here.

The Portraitsphere: Claire Dunaway

Dog portrait by Claire Dunaway

Here we go into the Portraitsphere: the world of Marietta, Georgia-based artist and teacher Claire Dunaway. And on this journey, you might not leave empty-handed: Bark Magazine is hosting a contest and you could win a portrait of your very own.

Dog Portrait by Claire Dunaway

Claire describes her inspiration this way:

“I am an artist and a teacher who embraces learning and exploring. As a native Georgian born and raised, I am deeply influenced by my family, faith, canine camaraderie, history and love for country; those numerous and powerful influences in my life can be seen running through the pieces I create.”

I especially like her appreciation of an easily-distracted mind (because I have one myself):

“I give thanks to God for giving me the eyes to see, the easily-distracted mind to notice and the heart to create.”

And create she does. Just look at all these faces!

Claire Dunaway's dog portraits

If you’d like to check out more of Claire’s work, you can visit her website here. And if you’d like to enter Bark Magazine’s contest and win a 16 x 20 portrait of your dog, do so before May 14, 2013 by visiting their site here (sorry, the contest is only open to US residents). Good luck!

The Portraitsphere: Rien Poortvliet

Briard portrait by Rien Poortvliet

Today’s foray into the Portraitsphere takes us to the canvas and sketchbooks of Dutch artist Rien Poortvliet. Best known for his multitudes of Gnomes, he seemed to really love dogs and, lucky for us, spent a lot of time observing, painting, sketching and scribbling them. The portrait of the French Briard above is from his book Dogs, and it’s definitely one of my favorite books about dogs. It’s literally crammed with portraits of all kinds of dogs from A to Z. And not only that, there are thoughts, facts, opinions and observations scrawled throughout. In this example he illustrates a non-dog person meeting a dog:

Rien Poortvliet's observation on dog and non-dog people

And there are pages and pages like this, about what goes on around his house with his own dogs and the things they get up to:

Rien Poortvliet's dogs and their antics

Yep, he’s nailed it again. In fact, as you go through the book you find yourself saying over and over, with a smile “oh yes, that’s exactly how it is!” And you know you wouldn’t have it any other way!

Rien Poortvliet's book Dogs

I bought my copy of Dogs quite a few years ago so it’s out of print, but it is possible to track down a used copy of the book. Here is a link to Amazon’s current availability.

Artist Yoshitomo Nara

Do Not Disturb! 1996, Yoshitomo Nara

A while back I became a fan of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, and what initially caught my eye of course was this white dog. He appears in paintings, drawings, and installations. At some point, somewhere (Toronto? London? Chicago? San Francisco? I can’t remember!) I saw an installation of three of these white dogs in a circle, bigger than life, filling up a room. I was smitten.

But look at this guy! I hope I can visit Japan one day and see him in person at the Aomori Museum of Art. Just look how happy these people are! And who wouldn’t be? There’s something so great about the incredible sense of scale with any piece of that size, and it would be even better if that piece is a gigantic dog!

Yoshitomo Nara at Aomori Museum of Art

Yoshitomo Nara at Aomori Museum of Art

Yoshitomo Nara has also created a sweet children’s book for Chronicle with this giant white dog at the center of the story, The Lonesome Puppy. It’s about a dog that’s just so darn big, no one notices him except for one special little girl. Aw.

The Lonesome Puppy from Chronicle Books

To be fair, Yoshitomo Nara isn’t entirely about white dogs. A lot of his work features these little mischievous kids, they’re trouble but they’re very alluring. And who knows what they’re up to! Smoking cigarettes, fighting, swearing a little and glaring a lot. I like these kids, but they’re somewhat intimidating and make me uneasy, like the kid that stares at you on a subway and has the power to make you squirm. Oh save me, giant white dog!

Yoshitomo Nara's work

Great article on artist Yoshitomo Nara here.
For some info on the Aomori Museum of Art, their website is here and there’s a good writeup here.
Aomori installation photos from flickr, here and here.