This is an original oil painting, called Red Porch, which I painted during a transitional time in my painting. I was changing from a more naturalistic approach to a less traditional one, and this painting hovers in this middle area. I have a large bulletin board, on which I tack images which inspire me, such as artists' reproductions, or which I want to use in a painting, such as newspaper or magazine photos. I found this porch scene in an architectural magazine, and held on to it until the spirit moved me. Serendipitously (as often happens), below the porch image I also tacked an image of this dalmatian, from a dog bone box. I liked it because the dalmatian (white with black spots) contrasted beautifully against the red background on the box. After they were both on the board for awhile, I began to notice that they went really well together, and eventually decided to create an image from them.
When I paint, I always start with an underlayer of thin paint, in a vibrant color such as red, blue, yellow or violet. In this case, I started with red. As I paint more layers of color, some of the underpainting shows through, enlivening the colors. Sometimes I like the underpainting, and decide to leave it showing; that's what happened here. I also used a lot of cobalt green, which is a near complementary color to red (it is a cool green). I based the painting on the combination of these two colors, and added blue and violet, with white. I wanted to re-create the white dog with black spots without using either white or black. Adding a semi-transparent dark green over the red created dark spots, which are a dark green, almost black. The semi-circle of the table (an ellipse) is repeated in the curve from the dog's head to his tail. Various diagonal movements are created by the table legs, which form a large 'upside-down Y' as a compositional structure in the painting (starting with the verticals of the wall and continuing down through the chair). It was fun to paint the dishes of food, such as cherries, teapot, etc., as well as the design on the back of the chair.
As far as the expression of the painting, it has a lot to do with the dog. I love animals, and I believe that they are much more intelligent than we give them credit for. In photos with dogs and people, the dogs always seem to be staring directly into the camera with complete intelligence and pride. Sometimes, they seem to smile or laugh. I often think they look more intelligent than their human companions... certainly not as vain, or as petty as people can be. We often overlook this knowing stare - so I like to emphasize it.