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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Guarding the Homefront

Guarding the homefront  -- that's exactly what our wonderful Adolf does daily.  Adolf joined our family in January, 2007.  He was 10 months old.  The minute I saw him I fell in love with him.  He jumped up on the leather sofa where I was sitting and put his head and paws in my lap, as if to say "Please take me home and love me."  That was all it took for me to say "yes" and bring him home with us.


It all started with an attempted break-in in 2007, and also because my husband was traveling for his job at the time.  I wanted to feel safe at home with the children and my elderly mother, and I wanted a German Shepherd.  Not just any German Shepherd either -- I wanted one that was trained (or somewhat trained anyway).  Adolf fit the bill perfectly.  He was 10 months old, house trained, and had the sweetest disposition.  From day one, he was a gem.


Adolf quickly became "my" dog.  He follows me around the house from room-to-room, and sleeps next to my side of the bed every night.  We've had Adolf for 7 years now,  and the memories we've made together are plentiful.


For instance, Adolf has a favorite chair, a green Ethan Allen chair and ottoman that sits by a front window in our home.  Adolf has adopted this chair where he can be comfortable while guarding the homefront.  Sometimes, while I am cleaning or cooking in the kitchen, he'll wander into the living room and take up residence on this green chair.  He lets me know when the mailman has come by, or when the UPS or FedEx man is at the door.  He also lets me know when he really doesn't like someone.  Adolf is very smart.


There is something unfamiliar to me about calling Adolf my "dog" or my "pet."  We are so bonded and he is so much a member of our family, I can't imagine my family without him.  That said, I have taken a lot of photos of Adolf over the years.  One, imparticular, stood out in my mind as the perfect reference for a pastel painting.


Adolf looked so content sitting in his favorite chair and watching the squirrels, the birds, and our neighbors out for their daily walks.  My son grabbed my camera and took this picture. 

That began my desire to paint this image in pastel.  


I opened the image on my laptop and placed it to my left for reference, zooming in on areas as I paint.  Note, that you should place your computer reference on the opposite side of the hand you paint with so that you don't get too much pastel (or paint) on your laptop.  I learned that trick with experience.


I begin with Sennelier Pastel Card, a 9x12 card. Since finding a frame for a 9x12 image can be difficult, I used masking tape to tape the paper to a board and my easel by taping off a centered 8x10 image.  This keeps the pastel card securely anchored to the board during painting and makes framing and matting much easier once the tape is removed.   

Using a charcoal pencil and my laptop reference, I sketched "shapes."  


I began my painting with darks and moved to lighter shades, all the while making marks that will appear to be Adolf's heavy fur coat.


Always mindful of the dark shadows and where the soft light from the window was hitting his fur, I moved towards his ears and face.  Eyes can be challenging.  When painting eyes, you want to pay close attention to the lids, the direction of the lids, the shape of the eye, the shadows and how the light hits the eye.  At this stage in my painting I put in "information" with my pastels, but had not achieved the "look" yet that I wanted.  


Adolf's eye actually took me longer than anything else in this painting.  I stayed with it until I had achieved his special look.  I wanted to capture his personality.  And so, this is the completed pastel painting of Adolf, which I have called "Guarding the Homefront" - 8x10 Soft Pastel on Sennelier Pastel Card.


* * * * *


If you would like a portrait done of your precious pet, you may contact me at [email protected], or through the "contact" page on this site.  I require a good image of your pet taken in natural light - no flash!!  In addition, cost is determined by the composition of the painting and the size.  











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