Maggie Mae

It's OK now to post another one of my newest paintings, a portrait of our dog Maggie Mae. This was one of my Christmas surprise gifts for Rick. It was challenging to complete this painting without Rick's knowledge, since my painting area is part of our large office and we are together 24/7. A few times the canvas was quickly slipped into a large drawer, with the paint still wet!

For this painting, done in acrylic on canvas, I used reference photos from a hike we took in October to the top of Huckleberry Knob, one of our favorite easy local mountain trails. I chose a pose with Maggie's focus on something other than me - which is typical for this attention-deficit dog! She's been a handful since we adopted her from the local shelter as a tiny puppy in August 2013. Our frustrations with trying to capture her attention and train her have often been punctuated with the line "...good thing she's cute!" But as she matures, Maggie gets into less mischief, acts sweeter and has grown up to be a great companion for Ellie Mae.

Dog portraits are one of my favorite painting subjects, as you can easily see with a visit to my web gallery. I also enjoy commissions for family homesteads, special places, pet cats and horses. More details on my commissioned artwork - including sizes, pricing, and tips for providing reference photos - are here.


It's safe for me to reveal another of my newest paintings, which has now been opened as a Christmas surprise. This is a new dog portrait of a rescued puppy very dear to my heart, named Hunter.

Hunter & Ellie Mae soon after he was rescued.
The short version of Hunter's story is that our friend Kathy found him wandering in the woods over Labor Day weekend 2012, homeless and totally emaciated. Rick and I agreed to give him a home and try to get him healthy. The vet said his condition indicated that he had been living in the wild for months. When we finally got him to hold down food and had success curing his red mange and other afflictions, Hunter gained about 20 lbs in 8 weeks. He was smart, happy, active, alert, and grateful for being rescued - a good little brother for our Ellie Mae and a delight for us. However, his longtime dependence on wildlife for food had turned him into a danger to our 4 outdoor cats, and we knew we would need to find another forever home for him. Anyone who knows us and our pets knows how fussy we are, and Hunter was no exception. After fostering him for 11 months, we finally found a home for Hunter which far exceeded anything in our wildest dreams. A wonderful couple from Pennsylvania named Pat and Dave adopted Hunter and the happiness they have given to each other over the past year and a half could fill volumes!
So I created this portrait with love and gratitude for Hunter, Pat, and Dave. I used reference photos which I had taken on my porch last May when they all came to Tennessee for a fun visit. Hunter is a dog who looks you right in the eye when you communicate, so I wanted a front-on pose to capture his intensity. I liked the backlighting of this shot and his relaxed demeanor. My porch floor is not really reflective, but I added that effect just because I think it's cool. Reports indicate that Hunter thinks I captured him handsomely!

This is painted in acrylics on stretched canvas. For the framing, I used a custom dark wood frame with an inner linen liner in off-white; this combination accents the lights and darks in the painting. A linen liner works sort of like the mat on a framed painting on paper. Merry Christmas Pat, Dave, and Hunter!


Yesterday, the last day of November, was sunny and warm here, but many days this past month have been dreary, misty and grey, like my newest painting "November." Even on such moody days, the tall dried grasses in the pastures and meadows here in Tennessee are striking tones of gold and rust, with undertones of green from the low fresh growth. The scent of the air says "autumn" in the country, perhaps from the damp leaves on the ground. My senses are aroused by the variations of Mother Nature in every season.

In this barn scene, I wanted to capture the three-dimensionality of the landscape. Distant hills, thickly covered with trees, are subdued by the moisture in the air, so I've painted them in greyed colors not much different from the sky. The middle ground of old farm buildings and their surroundings appear a bit more in focus, but the colors are still dulled. A close cedar tree on the left forms another plane, as we move forward in the scene. The foreground is dominated by the bare tree branches, warm tones in the grasses, and old barbed wire fencing. Close objects visually come forward when painted with bolder hues, more contrasts, and finer details than those of the distant objects.

Chalk up another painting with barbed wire for me! I guess it finds its way into so many of my paintings because old wire fencing is such a part of my environment. If I painted rural country landscapes from where I grew up in New England, lovely old fieldstone walls would grace the scenes.

Incidentally, I've completed a few other paintings recently, but they are destined as holiday gifts. I'll share them with you here after Christmas so I won't ruin any surprises. You get to be surprised too!