Thinking outside the Box(er)

Tigger helpingRocky finished, reduced DSCF1915

I was recently commissioned by a friend to paint a commemorative picture of Rocky, a noble Boxer dog who had gone to the great kennel in the sky. She provided me with many photographs and wanted Rocky and their house in the picture oh, and the collar was important too. This gave me a bit of a compositional problem, what with a house being big and a dog, relatively, small. I started out thinking of having Rocky standing outside the door, or in the gateway. But cropping out most of the house really wasn’t working. Then I hit on the idea of putting the house in the background with Rocky standing in the lane at some distance. That worked fine. I experimented with different doggy effects and in the end came up with something that satisfied me and Rocky’s owner. Mind you, the cat regarded the whole exercise as very suspect.

sketchbook Rocky DSCF1929

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Philip with Bernard's 'Pilgrim Plate'

Last Saturday I went to the Annual Lecture of the Chandos Society of Artists, another art group I’m involved with. It was given by Philip Leach, grandson (and also a potter) of the legendary Berbard Leach the ‘father of English Studio Pottery’.From his St Ives pottery, Bernard established a tradition which now encompasses several generations and hundreds of potters worldwide.

Philip read from a letter to Bernard written to him when he was a young man growing up in Japan, after he had announced his desire to become an artist.His stepmother reacts with the declaration that his plan is ‘nothing more or less than madness!’ She exhorts him to ‘put your back into something else!’ Anything else, one feels she means.

He ignored the advice, went off to London at 16 to study art, soon became hooked on pottery, and the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.