I received a request to create art for a teenager, to be exact a young girl who is sixteen years old and who misses her deceased dog greatly.
Yesterday, I asked my client to tell me more about the girl for whom the painting is intended for and I learned that she loves Anime and Disney Movies. She performs frequently at her high school theatre plays and even dressed up as Disney Character such as Merdia from the move "Brave". Armed with that insider information, I spend a good hour watching Disney movies. First I watched "Brave" to see what the story was all about, super cute movie by the way - and then looked at other Disney movies to see what they had in common as far as that Disney style scenery goes.
Initial painting layout
So I decided to share with you what I found out and how I am going to use that information to incorporate it in this dog portrait commission. The first thing that struck me was that every nature setting was filled with lush greenery. Sort of Amazon vegetation on steroids, every shrub, tree and grass was done in vivid colors. Then there were flowers, all over the place, in the water on the ground , climbing up trees, etc. Lighting seemed to play a key role as well and given that these setting were intended for movies it made all the more sense that the lighting was meant to add drama and to lead the eye through the scenery.
Color block in to add drama
As a painter I have to tell a visual story and being that I want to have my young client cherish her pet's portrait even when she has outgrown her Disney phase, I set out to arrange the elements of the painting to tell my own story. Since Oreo, my main character has departed this world, he is separated from his owner by a body of water. I am using the slightly darkened edges sort of as a camera zoom out effect. Right now it's only hinted at, but once the painting develops further you will see what I mean. Oreo will be gazing out towards his owner, but since he can no longer cross over, he will eventually go towards the light, which signifies doggy heaven. I am using flowers in the painting to form a wreath around the dog, which further emphasizes the loss and love for this pet. The water lilies lead to the blue flowers on the right, up a vine on the tree, down to the left side and back again to the water.
The character of Merida is adventurous and looks like a girl who goes off into the woods. Therefore I could see her easily carving her beloved's name on a tree trunk. The big tree in the background will bear Oreo's name, which will make this painting a very personal one for it's owner. This is not a painting of just any dog, but her dog - "Oreo" who she loved greatly.
Not too many people have the insight to buy real artwork for a teenager and I hope that I can show you with this painting example that such art can be both decorative and also meaningful for a young adult. Something that they can hold onto as they mature into adults and cherish for a lifetime.
Well I am ready to dive in and continue painting. I love to hear your comments and thoughts about this work. I will post more painting updates as they become available so follow this blog if you like to see the finished painting.