Work, Tension & Release

Feelings of victorious release and wistful loss are familiar companions when a large project is done.  “Lindsay With Dogs” had spurts of ease but also long stretches of mistakes and torturous effort.  Sometimes you can miss the sensation of hitting yourself in the head.


“Lindsay With Dogs” by Lynda McClanahan Head Detail

Although I am in no way a portrait painter, the face came surprisingly easy….

…as did the grass and the trees.  I tried to execute both in a realistic fashion (how I admire plein air practitioners!) but ended up in the usual default stylized mode.  I’m always interested in improving technique and evolving as an artist, but experience has taught that it’s better to modestly succeed than to fall on one’s face in a hubris-inspired heap.  Brutal honesty regarding one’s abilities is a must in this game.

One of the main anxieties surrounding the work was how to paint the dogs.  Intuition indicated one would come easy and the other hard, which proved to be correct.


Red dog detail “Lindsay With Dogs” by Lynda McClanahan

The red dog rolled off the drafting table with sure-footed confidence and efficiency.  I like the way this dog’s fur flows down the surface in sinuous clumps.


Black Dog Detail “Lindsay With Dogs” by Lynda McClanahan

The black dog came hesitantly and with great difficulty.  For some reason, it’s always harder to render something in the black-to-grey tonal range.   Perhaps this is a personal problem but maybe a more advanced artist can comment and tell me why.  I tried various strategies to achieve something similar to the other dog but had to settle for a kind of brushy, crew-cut effect.  It works, but I’m a bit worried that the two contrasting styles introduce unintended visual tension.  Oh well.


“Lindsay With Dogs” by Lynda McClanahan

“Lindsay With Dogs” is at the photographer, waiting for a scan but here in the studio, I’m waiting too.   I’m being nudged along by insistent but mysterious impulses.  Who knows what comes next?





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