Learn from Michelle

Know Your Subject

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." -Aristotle
Anyone who knows me knows about my Boston Terriers. They are a breed that captured my heart from a young age, so naturally, they worked their way into my paintings. The last three that quickly became a part of the family are shown from youngest to oldest — Coco, Prim, and Dixie.
Notice how different their paintings are? There is a reason for that. They may be the same breed, but they have been FAR from the same dog.
Coco is our people pleaser. She loves turning on her puppy dog eyes to beg for playtime, cuddles, and, most importantly, food. She wants to know what you're up to and be right in the thick of things — unless she finds a mud puddle, then she's ditching you. 😂 Only Boston I've seen thoroughly enjoy mud puddle playtime and wallowing. You know when her batteries need charging based on how much her ears are drooping. Her best friend is Aunt Prim, and she frequently gives her affectionate baths or playful nips.
Prim is our all-or-nothing dog. She has high energy and a ball fixation. Ready to play to her heart's content, she will wear herself and you out. However, she will not be touching mud, even with a 10-foot pole. When it comes to being with you, she likes to be near, but if it's nap time, it's nap time. She snores like a grown man and can't get out more than a disgruntled huff for her bark. Prim likes to act like she's the mature adult and will slow down to let Coco grab onto the ball with her to carry it back. Don't let her fool you though. She's instigating half (if not more) of the bitey-face games and roughhousing.
Dixie was our old faithful. Though she has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, she was obedient to a fault. We have literally watched her fall off of a kayak, sink to the bottom, and sit there looking up to be rescued. Obviously, we did and swimming wasn't her strong suit, but she was the one who proved to be well-seasoned. She was calm, enjoyed naps and pets, and just wanted to be near you. For this series of dogs, she was in a sense the matriarch. She got to meet Prim and start training her on how to be a good dog, and you can see that same tender patience when Prim interacts with Coco.
So in the paintings, it was important to capture each of their personalities. For Coco, it is her sweet puppy innocence. From her expression to her ears to her posture, it's her sweetness that needed to be at the forefront. For Prim, it wouldn't be right to only show her chest and head. Most of the time, she's running after the ball or waiting for you to throw it. She's poised to play and ready to roll. And Dixie? The matriarch, the calm and consistent one deserved an almost regal painting with a hint of a twinkle in her eye and a nap on her mind.
Now, how did I know to do all of this? How did these come together to match each dog?
Because I KNOW THEM!
There is something to be said about knowing your subject. This isn't always the case, but if you can get a background story or just a little bit more information about the picture you've been sent, you might be surprised how they show up in your painting.
It's not just the picture. The subject is in the details.
Hand-painted in Adobe Photoshop CC using the Wacom Intuos Pro and the Wacom Art Pen.
Return to BLOG Home

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join the mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from my team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

I hate SPAM. I will never sell your information, for any reason.