“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first” – Dr. Bob Hoke. That quote is one of many from my book Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit that I’ve found helpful in my life as a professional artist. [a link to that book is here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit]
When I begin any commissioned portrait of someone’s special dog (or cat) I make a series of practice sketches of that breed before I attempt a likeness of the special dog. Yes, I’ve been doing these portraits for years but I still find it helpful to start with the basic characteristics of the breed. Then I can look at someone’s special dog and see what makes that dog unique.
I’m currently working on a commissioned portrait that has a schnauzer in it. Here are a couple of practice schnauzers (not pictured are about 5 other practice pieces).
All of this talk of “practice” has reminded me of a story Dr. Bob told that is not in the above mentioned book. That story went like this:
Once there was an Emperor who had a pet rooster. He decided he wanted a portrait of his beloved rooster to be painted by the best artist in his land. One of the artists was invited to the palace and was asked to make the portrait. The artist agreed, saying that he would need 3 months in order to do it. Then he would return to the palace and paint the portrait in front of the Emperor. The Emperor was pleased. The artist went back to his studio and worked hard every day for 3 months. Then he returned to the palace, as agreed, with his art materials. The Emperor had his pet rooster brought before the artist. The artist watched the rooster for a while and began to paint. In about 3 minutes the painting was finished. The Emperor was thrilled with the portrait and asked for the artist’s fee. The artist named what sounded like a large sum. “What?!” bellowed the Emperor “That only took you 3 minutes to create! Why do you want so much money? Are you trying to swindle me?” The artist requested that the Emperor travel to his studio by way of a reply. Reluctantly the Emperor did so. When they arrived and the artist flung open the doors of his studio the Emperor saw thousands of rooster drawings. The artist described his work history and extensive training and while the Emperor marveled at all of the rooster portraits the artist added “The portrait of your rooster has actually taken me a lifetime to paint.” The Emperor happily paid the artist’s fee.
You can see more of my dog practice work in my newest book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy