Tuesday, October 19, 2010

American Water Spaniel

I love to see how folks display my art work. Here's the portrait I drew for the American Water Spaniel Club Inc.'s Annual Specialty Show. I think it's beautifully framed, perfectly hung between two Chinese porcelain pheasants, and well lighted, too. A perfect setting for a bird dog! Isn't he pretty!

Here's a comment from the proud owner of the drawing:

"I won this beautiful picture at the AWSC INC. National Specialty and Hunt Test Weekend Saturday night auction. I managed to have the winning bid. Hooray!! I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Such a fabulous job on the dog! I am glad Leslie likes the way he is displayed. I have had nothing but wonderful comments on this lovely portrait."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cockers in Color

Snook & Smudge
8" X 10" pen and ink

 Sunny, Snook, and Smudge are field-bred English cocker spaniels, all hunting dogs, all in competition, and all titled. Sunny, the grande dame, mother to Snook and Smudge, has three American Kennel Club hunting titles and was recently awarded Field Champion, a top honor in the hunting dog world. Snook and Smudge also have earned titles, but they have a ways to go before they catch up with their mommy. 

I used three different colored inks on this trio--chocolate brown (or "liver" in spaniel speak), sienna (or "tan" in spaniel speak), and black. I'm thrilled with the way it turned out. Unfortunately, my laser printer doesn't print color pictures, so I had to make the greeting cards and bookmarks in black and white. Not bad.   

 Here are the two photos I used for the drawing. They were great photos of fabulous subjects. I loved doing this drawing.

I'm excited about drawing in color, so I'm off to find a good source of colored inks and hope that my next commission will be multi-colored.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Illustrating a Book!

Lulu, Bill’s favorite

I spent much of this past summer illustrating a wonderful book called All My Dogs: A Life. It’s a memoir by Bill Henderson, the founder of Pushcart Press, editor and publisher of the annual Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, now in its 34th year, author of four previous memoirs: His Son (Norton, 1981), Her Father (Faber and Faber, 1995), Tower: Faith, Vertigo and Amateur Construction (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000), and Simple Gifts (Free Press, 2006), recipient of the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle, a friend, and a neighbor.

Here’s Bill’s tower on Christy Hill in  Sedgwick.
He’s also built an octagonal writing studio and
a stone cathedral, the subject of his next memoir.

In All My Dogs, Bill writes “Many of my dogs taught me well. . . . Most of all they created home for me. From Philadelphia’s suburbs to the Maine seaside, home was where the dog was. In the years when I was dogless, I had no true home. In the golden dog days, I found family again.”

The book is due out next spring with David R. Godine, Publisher, one of the last remaining independent publishers in America, whom Bill brought by our house along with his son, Addison, last summer for an impromptu dinner of pasta with fresh tomato sauce from our garden. David writes in his 40th anniversary catalogue, “If you believe, as I do, that your work is the footsteps you leave in the sands of time, then every book you publish should contain the proof of that devotion and promise.” The Godine catalogue, which is a work of art itself, is full of beautifully designed books written and illustrated by illustrious authors, artists, and photographers. Bill Henderson will be right at home in their midst. I’m awestruck to be included.

I drew 13 dogs for the book. Of those 13 dogs, Bill only had one clear photograph of his favorite, Lulu. He had grainy shots of four other dogs—Trixie, Duke, Opie, and Max—which were helpful in getting a sense of their shapes and colors, but not clear enough for drawing purposes. He had two shots of Sophie, his yellow Lab, as a grown up, but he wanted a drawing of her as a puppy. He had no photos whatsoever of five of the dogs—Earl, Snopes, the Mayor of Bridgehampton, Ellen, and Rocky Raccoon. Rocky was not even a recognizable breed and, it turned out, almost defied description. I had to draw him three times before I got him right. Fortunately, I was able to take my own reference photos of Bill’s two remaining dogs—Franny and Sedgwick. But, for the most part, I had to start from scratch and cobble together composite portraits of many of the dogs in Bill’s life. It was a challenge, but Bill cheered me on in his exuberant, steadfast, and unconditional way. The book has a breed or mixed breed to please almost everyone—a spitz, a spaniel, a setter, two hounds, four retrievers, a terrier, a collie, and a Portie without papers.

Much as I’d love to show you my illustrations, I’m going to save them for when the book comes out. Here are a couple more photos of my subjects. I’ll keep you posted on publication dates, parties, etc.!


St. Francis of Assisi (AKA Franny)