It's not hard to deduce that my heart belongs to one dog, and one (big, red, lazy) dog only, but when it comes to drawing, I'm far from exclusive. If I've got a sketchbook in hand, you can bet the awkward bob of a passing poodle, or the smushed-in mug of a pug will appear somewhere on a page; mixed breed or pure, plucky puppy or geriatric, I'll bliss out at the chance to draw them all. In addition to good practice, impromptu portraits of furry friends and strangers can become useful reference and inspiration for future projects as well. Case in point - meet Charlie and Henry!
Charlie and Henry, both rescues, belong to some good friends down south. I only met them in person a few weeks ago (during which time I sketched the sleeping beasts at the top of this post), but this past spring, working from photos, I incorporated Charlie's shaggy face into a commission for a pet magazine based in the UK (good reference photos for me are always key to great finished work, but good reference photos of animals in my personal orbit provide an added narrative bonus, and make the end result that much more personal).
The fully illustrated article, titled "The more the merrier?", appeared in the summer issue of My VIP magazine and explores the effort involved in managing multi-species households. My artwork graces both a title page and a double-page spread. Charlie (who isn't, in reality, a social butterfly himself) seemed like an appropriate ambassador for a paragraph on how to carefully introduce two dogs in order to ensure a successful first impression, and perhaps more importantly - to avoid fisticuffs (let's just say, Oscar and I have a little experience in this department...).
Notice that handsome Dane on the title page? He's inspired by a few local friends as well! The beautiful brother and sister pair, King & Storm, were the subjects of a 13 Project post from a few winters back... when it came time to anchor my title page composition with something solid and sculptural, how could I resist the urge to use a likeness of these steely grey muses?
*Since this is a dog blog, I won't go into detail about a certain feline acquaintance who also earned a cameo in this set of illos, but for the record (D&K, take note), sweet old Monty... he's in there. So you see, you just never know where inspiration sits twitching it's ears...