DISC DOG is inspired by the life we live with our canine family members and those bonding moments that form lifetime memories, like frisbee on a beach in the waning daylight hours.
A few months ago I did a piece called BIRD DOG, which was a silhouette similar to DISC DOG, but it pushed the contrasts more intensely. DISC DOG incorporates more hues while maintaining the impact of a silhouette and the unbridled enthusiasm for life that only a dog, especially those thankful rescue dogs, can convey. The underpainting was a light cadmium red and burnt sienna, which shows through in some areas, but more importantly served as a helpful guide for laying down the clouds with a setting sun somewhere “off camera”. I painted over a previous composition for this piece, something I rarely do, so I was pleasantly surprised to essentially have a pre-treated surface on which to work. Somewhere under DISC DOG lurks a really bad painting of monochromatic wine bottles.
Oddly enough, the most challenging element of DISC DOG was the frisbee. As you can see from the sketch, I noted the idea of using a frisbee instead of a ball. While the ball would have been much easier, the body position of the dog is more akin to waiting to jump at a frisbee rather than chasing a ball in the air. The trick with the frisbee turned out to be the odd look it had as a silhouette. For the life of me I couldn’t get it to convey “FRISBEE”. I kept wiping out and repainting versions of what looked like UFOs. Ultimately I switched gears away from the dark shape and allowed the light from the setting sun to make it pop, but tried to do so without making it the focal point of the composition. The angle of the disc, the lines of the waves, the red collar, and various other elements try to move the viewer to the dog as the star of the piece.
Special thanks to Austin Pets Alive! for all the great rescue work they do for the animals of the city of Austin, the state of Texas, and various cities throughout the United States. In Austin alone, every year there are thousands of rescue dogs playing frisbee, like DISC DOG, thanks to the tireless work, innovation, love and compassion of APA! and their wonderful staff and army of volunteers.
Very nice, Bern! Love the colors and the contrasts. Especially like the posture of the dog — you can tell he/she is ready to jump!
Great feedback! Glad to hear the dog’s posture looks pre-jump.