Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fur is Fun

"Tennis Ball Heaven"
16" x 20" acrylic on canvas paper

A few months ago while in NC visiting my family, my niece asked me to paint her a scene she has stuck in her head of a bunch of dogs playing at a dog park.

She reminisced about taking my mom's poodle to the dog park, and upon entering seeing a gorgeous site; dogs running here and there, playing, jumping, and wrestling on green green grass with tall tall trees behind them.

I told her of course I would paint it for her. Whatever she wants from me she gets. Period.

The painting I had envisioned for her looked nothing like this in my head. It's funny how that happens when you paint with no reference. I originally planned on having traditionally shaped trees way in the background with the chain link fence coming to a point in the center (as her memory saw it). The dogs would be more prominent than they turned out.

When I finally got my dogs in a row and began this painting, for some reason, these round abstract "ball" trees came out of my paintbrush. My initial reaction was to paint over them but I slept on it for one, two, three nights and over that time I fell in love with the odd trees.

Then I painted the fence. Chain-link fences are complex pieces of architecture, I can tell you that. Luckily in our new temporary house we have that type of fence in the backyard, so one afternoon I was out there with sketch pad and pencil taking notes on how a chain-link fence is put together. Each strand is attached vertically and with each turn wraps around the strand next to it. Quite beautiful, really.

When I painted it, my original plan to make it all perfect went straight out the window. It came out crooked and crazy but somehow matched the trees; abstract and spunky.

When it was done and ready for the dogs, I figured my niece is spunky enough and can handle it.

She requested a German Shepard Dog, a pug, a pit bull, and a Doberman. Done. (The pug is on the extreme right of the painting. Just an E. T. head poking in.) I used a reference book from the library for the images of the dogs and filled in the rest with other breeds I like. (I ran out of room for my breed of choice; the Great Dane.)

So, that's it. Dogs running through a dog park having fun chasing balls and each other.

It wasn't until it was done and I was sitting looking at it checking it over for corrections did I realize that the trees actually look like giant tennis balls.

Oh, baby, would dogs be in puppy heaven if trees were tennis balls!

Play on my four-legged friends!


  1. This is so wonderful. It's your flights of fancy at work again, in collaboration with your niece. I'm going to share this image with my husband and my friends who often meet up at the dog park along with our dogs.

  2. Hi Paula,
    It is amazing to see how much freedom you took from your artist license to give out a wonderful creation! Nice that the background turned abstract quite contrary to the dogs in the fore ground that look so real and full of life.. this is a very interesting, impressive piece!

  3. This is a wonderful, fun painting! I absolutely love the trees, and I thought of the giant tennis balls right away. Ah, Doggie Heaven for sure. Great work Paula!

  4. Great Picture! Coral will absolutely LOVE it! Well done - I like the abstract trees! So glad you make the time for yourself. You truly need that! Very creative! Go Paula!

  5. Very whimsical and fun. I like this and could see this as an illustration in a child's story book.

  6. Thank you everyone for your kind words! It was a fun painting to do, light and energetic. I love dogs and painting them is fun!