Marley and Kingsley
10" X 8" pen and ink
Marley is a beagle/Australian shepherd/boxer mix adopted from the Humane Society. “He is a total lover,” his adoptive mother, Karen, reports. “He's never met a stranger. He likes to be within arm's length at all times, just in case there are pettings to be had. He's pretty mellow and would be content spending all day lying around with me.”
Kingsley is half Cardigan Welsh corgi and half Pembroke Welsh corgi—“the best of both worlds” says Karen. “He has a long tail but he's not quite as big as a pure Cardigan. He is the consummate little brother. If Marley is playing with a toy, Kingsley wants to play with that toy. If he gets it, he plays keep-away. It's only fun if Marley wants the toy, too. If Marley is getting attention, then Kingsley wants to get attention. Kings loves to play fetch and run. At the dog park, he likes to play with the big dogs, even though his stumpy little legs make it hard for him to keep up sometimes. And, of course, while Kingsley is running himself silly at the park, Marley is making the rounds among the people trying to find the person who will pet him the most. They're both very silly and sweet, and they get along really well—often giving each other tongue baths when they're lying on the couch together.”
It’s always tricky to incorporate two or more animals into the same portrait, and to make them look natural and dynamic at the same time. Karen sent me four photos of her fellows, all great ones. I focused in on this one immediately. I love the heads cocked left and right. All I had to do was to move the dogs closer together for a more chummy look. Since they’re both dark around the edges, I left the background white, but I had to cut off a bit of ear from each dog, Van Gogh style, in order to fill the frame with their faces. I filled the frame so well that I didn’t leave any white space for my signature. Hmmmm! I finally snuck it in on a swirl of fur, tipping my pen to Al Hirschfeld, the New York Times artist, who hid his daughter’s name, Nina, in his pen-and-ink caricatures, sometimes multiple times. Here's a self portrait with two Nina's that Hirschfeld drew at age 99! (He died in 2003 at 100.) I hope I'm still drawing such true lines when I'm that age!