Dusk. 20"x16". oil on linen. 2013.
This is one of the most challenging commissioned paintings I've ever accepted. It was being given as a holiday gift and was a surprise for the recipient. I was given a brief description of what the customer wanted (a dog walking down a path towards a farm house at sunset) but provided with no reference material.
To provide a meaningful setting for the painting, I went to the recipient's home several times during the day and stood at the end of their driveway to take some photos. Then I spent many evenings that month standing outside looking at the sky as the sun went down.
None of the photographs I took could capture the true look of the landscape as the sun disappears behind the horizon. Consequently, I painted much of the foreground from a combination of memory, imagination and referring to classic paintings. I had to repaint the foreground a couple of times using different color choices and paint application techniques until I got it about right.
The placement of the dog also changed over the course of the painting. In the initial design I had placed it fully in the foreground, at the bottom left. Moving the dog further down the path gave the painting a better balance.
In the end what makes the painting most unusual for me are the elements of narrative (the dog walking, the window light). Even though I paint animals and landscapes, I rarely combine them in this way.