Barking Blondes: Pets in portraits, couture canines and ruff reality stars
Andy Murray’s girlfriend Kim Sears paints portraits of dogs. We think the pictures are great and have been attempting to get her on the radio show for sometime, but at a guess, they both have other commitments at the moment.
What makes a great dog portrait? Is beauty truly in the eye of the beholder? When is a portrait of your pet considered to be naff and when is it art?
Do Andy and Kim sit round the dining room table at night under a massive portrait of their border terriers Maggie and Rusty? If so, let’s hope Kim has cunningly managed to paint in both dogs wearing silver and gold medals.
Painting the beloved pooch of a doting customer must involve some tact. In the same way you look over the shoulder at the easel of a street artist with curiosity as he paints a trusting tourist so you must hold your breath when shown a recent commission.
Artists must discreetly ignore the patch of mange or the persistent wart or tear stains, so as not to offend.
We were once sent, anonymously, two portraits of our dogs Molly and Matilda. To say that we were shocked is an understatement.
Molly the bull terrier was dressed head to four toes in what looked like bondage gear whilst Matilda, the bulldog, simply looked bored and fat.
Having prided ourselves on their slender waistlines we were mortified.
But binning the paintings seemed like throwing our beloved girls into the waste. So we shoved them, complete with frames, into the car boot, where they shock us after every trip to the supermarket.
For over five thousand years, great artists have painted dogs. Their fascination with not only their physique but also the close relationship with man has made dogs great muses.
Van Gogh and Gainsborough, through to Monet and Lucien Freud, all depicted dogs in their work. There is even a Chihuahua-type dog on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And of course, Andy Warhol painted his beloved dachshund straight onto silk screen.
Contemporary designer Ben de Lisi is setting a trend with portraits of his French bulldog across his new collection. Many artisan chocolate shops will place, nostalgically, a dog portrait on selection boxes. Pet portraiture is definitely back in fashion.
Modern portraits are now usually copied from photographs. But what must it have been like for these artists before the camera?
Imagine trying to get a whippet to sit still for hours next to a plate of pheasant!
We were invited this week by the Willow Foundation charity to cover a small canvas with what was to be an honest representation of The Barking Blondes. What a nightmare. Neither of us could have done justice to our dogs’ images and we are not risking our ‘boat races’ in oils, so we opted for abstract. You can see it above, in acrylic and paint.
More pop art than Picasso, but a spontaneous form of communication, we hope.
That’s enough of the culture. Has anyone noticed how many dogs are now appearing in the latest series of The Only Way is Essex? Given the readership of this website that question may be rhetorical. So let us reveal this to you then, if a reality series wants to keep its ratings, shove in a cast of mutts. They can certainly upstage the rest of the cast.
What a week! Elite athletes parading their pooches all over London whilst Essex boys and girls share dog bowls in the Sugar hut, ”Shut up!”
Barking at the Moon is on every Thursday from 10pm to midnight BBC London 94.9FMTagged in: Andy Murray, art, dog care, dogs, kim sears, pet care
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