One of the things I learned in my first icon-painting class (besides how to work with acrylic paint*, which was crucial since my background was mostly in oils) is how to apply gold leaf. Which means that halos have started appearing on my pet portraiture.
These are the dogs I grew up with, Sputnik and Katie. They weren’t really saints. They bit the heads off small animals, they ate my holiday candy, and they would try really hard to outbark one another whenever something exciting happened outside. Basically, they were dogs. My mom got me to do a quartet – these two and their two current dogs, sans halo.
This is Kitty. He was K.’s family’s longtime cat. He grew up a scrappy stray with a chunk bitten out of one ear but the time I met him he was the dignified elder statesman of the cat contingent.
When my dad was younger he had a landlady who kept English bulldogs named after English historical figures (Winston as in Churchill, and Benji as in Benjamin Disraeli). After one expired, she buried it in the garden with a little headstone that read, “Benji: Born a dog, died a Gentleman.” I thought that was the best thing ever to put on pet memorial paintings, besides little halos.
I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes I get overwhelmed and forget that I can actually do cool things. And then, usually after a good pep talk, I force myself to make something so I can re-prove to myself that it is possible. That’s why this Kitty painting happened. That, and the fact that he was the coolest cat I’ve ever known.
*The secrets I picked up that week are 1. use a liner brush and 2. keep in mind both stroke and consistency, as in the consistency of the paint – mastering the sufficient addition of water or medium or whatever so the paint will flow.