One of the contenders - or should I say "two" of the contenders - for my Dragon Slayer painting. Entries are being accepted via email only through July 17th.
For generations, citizens of Lake Orion (my hometown) have told the story of a dragon living in the depths of our lake.
We even have a summer festival that pays homage to her - with dragon boat races, tours of historic lakeside homes, sidewalk chalk contests, and an art exhibition.
It's time for me to start my dragon painting for inclusion in that art exhibition - but I need your help finding my muse.
I want to do a larger than life portrait of an animal - dog or cat - accompanied by a toy dragon. In keeping with the tradition of the dragon myth, the animal must have an expressive face that tells legions of stories. (I already have the dragon - you simply need to supply the muse!)
You may nominate your pet by sending non-flash photos** to me by July 17th.
Photos submitted must be of your own taking. By virtue of submission, you are granting me permission to create derivative artwork at any point in the future.
I'll update submissions on the studio's facebook page every couple days.
Thanks so much!!
**Why non-flash photos? I want my paintings to be spectacular, and as such, need to start with the highest quality references. Flash photos create an unnatural shadow, flatten out the subject, erase depth of detail in the eyes, and disguise key elements like hair growth patterns and true colorings. The flash itself also tends to startle/scare the animal, thus changing their natural expression. For these reasons, flash photos submitted will, unfortunately, not be considered.
ADDENDUM: I received quite a bit of flack about the Dragon Slayer photo in yesterday's newsletter (pictured above), so much so that I opted not to publish it to my blog until today, so that I had an opportunity to address the number of concerns that were voiced to me via email.
Some of you thought the bird toy was disturbingly lifelike, some of you thought the photo was taken moments before the pups disemboweled the bird, and some of you thought it would be appropriate to call me names for sharing such an image.
The puppies in the photo are Vizsla's, a breed that has existed for thousands of years to point and retrieve wild game for the dinner table. This is an inherent trait, one that is apparent and honed from a very young age through careful training and other life experiences.
The quail in the photo was pen-raised, used as a training tool with these pups. The quail was alive and kicking for many days after this photograph was taken - hunting dogs have tender mouths and are known to retrieve many a bird without harming a feather. This bird offered a precious introduction to what Vizslas were bred for - and these two puppies demonstrated a high level of excitement the day they first experienced a live bird (a response that has manifested itself in their brilliant hunting careers as adults).
This excitement translated into an equally brilliant photo that demonstrated the natural instincts of these dogs. Vizslas are one of many breeds of sporting dogs that literally live for birds, choosing to hunt over food and love. My father had a hunting dog, a Brittany Spaniel, who simply never got enough of it - she willingly hunted until the pads of her feet bled and he asked her to stop. We had another Brittany that cried and paced relentlessly if another dog was chosen to accompany my father into the field. These dogs are wired to hunt, and do so with a passion.
I've shadowed many a dog into the field, and there is nothing like watching them catch a trail, follow it to point, and then proudly retrieve the game, only to eagerly do it all over again. And the bond between handler and dog is phenomenal, both in the field and on the couch.
Hunting is a shared activity between many humans and dogs, and one of the underlying reasons dogs were domesticated. Hunting is an activity in today's society that many choose not to pursue, and that is fine. I myself never carried a gun, I simply participated for the sheer joy of watching the dogs. (I also enjoy an herb roasted bit of bird every so often, but that doesn't mean I don't understand and appreciate those who choose a vegan lifestyle.)
Please trust that I would never knowingly endorse any type of behavior that is inherently cruel to any life form. Rest assured that the photo in question was not part of some cruel or heartless session that resulted in the bird coming to harm. And please, if you are going to call me names, learn the facts first - then you can fire away!!
All said and done, I'm still accepting photo-muse nominations for Dragon Slayers, if anyone dares to send more in!!
Thanks for letting me speak my mind - and for caring enough to voice your concerns!!