Puppy Butts!

Puppy Butts!  | 6” x 8” | Oil on Canvas Board

The inspiration for this piece needs no explanation – even my cat loving friends love a cute puppy butt! 

I used various photos and paintings as reference points for this furry pack, but the common element was first and foremost the lighting. The goal was to capture the time of day, walking along the beach as the sun was either rising or setting. The golden coats of the pups simply glow in this lighting as they explore the beach during a receding tide, with mom in the lead looking for, well, who knows what. 

My wife and I enjoy fostering dogs, especially mom’s and their puppies. That experience has taught me a few things about rescue pups. First, they know it and they show it – if you haven’t had this experience, you’re missing out. Second, nothing beats watching puppies explore the world as they try to play with everything and everyone they meet, including each other. Finally, puppy butts are just plain cute!

The paint colors were tricky to get just right because there is so much golden yellow throughout. The use of cool blacks (Ultramarine Blue and a little Burnt Sienna) for the paw pads and where the paws touch the beach help give definition and “pop”. Originally I wasn’t going to try to incorporate any reflections in the little pools of water along the beach, but having seen this work well in other paintings I decided to give it a go.  I’m glad I did because it really helps give depth and movement to the scene. 

Just as they encouraged and inspired me in this composition, I’d highly recommend fostering or adopting a rescue dog at some point. In my experience you can find any breed, age, and personality in your local or regional shelter or rescue group.

#dontbreedorbuy #rescuedogs #bestfriends #dogsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #dogstagram #oilpainting #fineart #petsofinstagram #contemporaryart #fosteringsaveslives #dogsofig #adoptme #takemehome #austinpetsalive #atx #berntx #crashboomzip #oilpainting #austinartists #abplanalp

Dangling Paws

Dangling Paws | 18” x 12” | Oil on Canvas Board

This piece is inspired by playtime with Wolfy, who loves fetch despite the challenge of galloping around with his huge paws!

Dangling Paws

There were a few new challenges with this piece, namely capturing the various golden browns of Wolfy’s shepherd-hound coat, as well as the texture of his paws. The key to the coloring was working in various reds and warm yellows, but it took a lot of experimentation to get the right likeness. The paws were more about the texture from using a painting knife instead of a brush, which made the surface of the paws look rough and realistic.

However, the hardest part was the dog bed. I got it in my head that the pattern of the bed would help give the sense of plush comfort that Wolfy’s 85 pounds was enjoying as he slept with his head and paws dangling off the edges. It turned out to be effective, but the next time the bed will have no artistic flair.

Thanks for reading!

Ball! Ball! Ball!

Oil on canvass panel, 6″x4″
My dogs are a big part of my life, which means I live to serve their needs, in large part because I love them and, well, they don’t have thumbs. My oldest dog, Zip, is a 7 year old Aussie Catahoula rescue mutt from Austin Pets Alive!. Her world revolves around two things – food and “ball”. To that end, I serve as her chef and throwing machine.
The lifespan of a Zip tennis ball is a couple weeks. She chews on them while bringing the ball back for another throw, as if they’ve offended her and need to be destroyed. It’s the epitome of a love hate relationship.
This piece is a tennis ball after 1 throwing session. The fuzz and color have been adequately altered, making what had been a boring, new green smooth tennis ball into something with depth and intrigue. Thank you Zip!
I like to do these small dog toy pieces on a canvass board to help with texture. In this piece, it was very helpful with the need to pull out strands of tennis ball fuzz because the rough surface helped scatter the stringy look in a random pattern, thus making it look more natural. The hardest part was getting the dirt just right, which took some experimentation with Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, and various puddles of orange.
Finally, I was pleasantly surprised how effective the white line of the tennis ball added realism. It was also important to put a small hint of shadow along the edge of the white line to give just enough depth on the surface of all that green fuzz.
Tennis Ball - Oil Panel 2

“Rescued” – molds and molds and molds


As mentioned in the previous post, the process for creating the dog paw prints wasn’t straightforward. The challenge was finding a way to get the real prints of all 3 dogs on the canvass without having it look like a distorted mess. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to do a piece with the messy prints splayed across the canvass, and I’ll readily admit that is a good idea, too. However, that was not the direction for this project.

The other challenge was ensuring the actual prints of Crash, Boom, and Zip were used. I didn’t want to do a photo-based, realism approach, i.e. take a picture of the paws and free paint the shapes. I really wanted to have the touch and active presence of CBZ on the canvass. This became very important to me as the work progressed because it would be a forever connection to our beloved pups; a way to always reach out and touch their “real” paws.

So if you haven’t barfed from the sentimentality, you appreciate the concept… hopefully. The original thought was to slather some non-toxic kid paint on the dog’s paws and let them run on the canvass. That’s such a bad idea for so many reasons. Just think about it for a minute if you don’t know what I mean. The next idea was to paint the dog’s paws and then press their paws on the canvass myself, in a more or less controlled fashion. Aside from the obvious battle of wills that would ensue, of which I would surely be on the losing side, this doesn’t work well because the prints are muddled with hair marks, making the prints largely indiscernible. I know this because I did a trial with Boom, the mellow dog, by shaving his paws and following the technique noted above on a practice canvass. It looked like poo.

The final answer was molds in molds. The photo included has the molds I used plus one set I didn’t. The 3 molds on the top left and the set of 3 on the bottom left. Process went like this:

  • Pressed the dog’s paw into a round of molding clay.
  • Baked the molds for 30 minutes. These are the top 3 molds in the photo.
  • Using non-drying clay, pressed into the dried molds and pulled them out. These are the bottom 3 colored ones.
  • These non-drying clay molds held their shape, but could be manipulated, so I pressed each one gently down onto a flat surface to flatted out the paw prints so it would transfer the shape better.
  • Applied thin layer of paint to the clay molds and pressed carefully onto the canvass. This provided the general shape and worked surprisingly well.
  • Applied free-hand touch ups and additional layers of paint on paw prints on canvass.

The other 3 molds (on right side of photo) are a failed attempt to create oven dried impression molds as described with the non-drying clay above. They are great 3D molds of the dog’s prints, but turns out the paint doesn’t transfer well to the canvass because the paw pads are too well done, i.e. they are rounded and can’t be pressed flat to make a good stamp. One of those things you try and then feel like a moron for having overlooked such a simple mistake.

All the molds are reusable, so I can recreate this project again if I wanted to. The best part is that my wife gets the painting she asked for, plus a mold of each dog’s front left paw.