Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Oil Painting: When things go seriously wrong

What do you do if what you were painting suddenly disappears?
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I’m just getting back to a project that got interrupted this year with personal tragedy (See Memorial to a Brother), called ‘Different Views’. My daughter had texted me this cell image of her at the lake with her now ex-boyfriend’s dog which inspired this project.

I started wondering about what each of them were thinking looking at the same world. So I decided to do a piece around how friendship bonds overcome our different view for the companionship of each other. I loved the expressions and pose of the girl and the dog, like the fingers curled into the dog’s fur to remind the dog not to get carried away with her dream of chasing the ducks.

Because the piece was going to be about thoughts and the scenes are completely different (yet connected) I decided to do the work as a quadriptych (4-painting set). The first scene would be based on the photo and friendship. The second would be the girl’s view of a romantic sunset. The 3rd would be the dog’s wish to chase the ducks on the lake, and the 4th is the hunting dog owner’s dream of his perfect dog retrieving a duck.

I had completed the basics of the first 3 painting when my daughter broke-up and I lost my dog model. So my early efforts on the 4th painting were just sad - lol. A model change was require, so the Kat's actual best friend ‘Minnie’ takes the stage. Only problem is Minnie is a totally different breed, size, sex, and coloring. So what do I do about a different dog in the first 3 paintings? I had left this problem on hold while I caught the 4th painting up to the same developmental level as the first 3.

Photography PrintsArt Prints

However, after living with this on the easel for almost a year then I’m leaning towards not changing the dogs. One, because the pose and expression of the initial photo was the inspiration for the piece, but also because each painting is suppose to be a different dream. The theme and title of the 4th painting is, Hunter’s Pride; the dog owner’s dream where their actual mutt is a champion specimen with incredible training and talent; which Minnie certainly is. But what convinces me to stay with different dogs is the ‘lost dream’ element it brings the piece that mirrors this and all reality. How easily our dreams slip away. “Hunter’s Pride” represents a future lost, not just a lost dream.

However, not changing the dogs isn't going to save me painting time, as I now need to connect these pieces together while not weakening their strength as individual pieces. I want an overall landscape or mural effect, without losing the concept that the scenes are not physically related (happening next to each other) but thought related. But first a bit more work on the individual pieces, that have to stand on their own as well as combing into the quadriptych.

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Click on image for larger view. This is as close as can come to with showing how pieces will display together. There is space between the center stacked painting so follows land and horizon lines.

So this catches you up to date on where I am on this project. I've got these prop up for a few weeks while I get through the Christmas obligations and study how to approach this finish. Welcome any feedback.

Come back for updates in 2015, or subscribe.
Mary Ellen Anderson

Memorial to a Big Brother

Holland Lake Lodge by Mary Ellen Anderson
On Labor Day 2014 my big brother, Bob, passed away. Bob was an avid outdoors man and loved nature. These are a collection of works I did while visiting or traveling with Bob over the years; a wonderful friend and brother.
Mary Ellen Anderson
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I was actually stranded when this painting was painted as a tree had broken under the weight of snow and killed my car.

Rusty a Hunting Dog by Mary Ellen Anderson’ title=

Bob loved his dogs and the sentiment was returned.

Gayle Highway by Mary Ellen Anderson’ title=

Road trips with my siblings, good times.


Colorful Colorado, where the love for nature began.


A deer Christmas card for a Dear brother.       


View from apartment we shared in Lawrence, Kansas while in college.

Sunset Over Serenity Lake by Mary Ellen Anderson’ title=

Floating trips.

Mountain Island Sanctuary by Mary Ellen Anderson’ title=’Mountain Island Sanctuary by Mary Ellen Anderson

Hiking trips.

Thanks, Bob. You were a wonderful guide. Love, Mary.