May be a well-known pet portraitist today, but it is only
late in life, at the age of 42, that I started painting and
my first dog portrait was created in 97. Read on and, I will
tell you my success-story through some anecdotes tied to a few
dog portraits. At the end of my story, a few years later, as
in a fairy tale, Her Majesty the Queen receives the pet portraitist,
No ! Let me first recount the beginning of my adventure.
I didn't have the good fortune to attend a design or architectural
school. My father, who was a captain of industry, could never
come up with a positive adjective to use along with the word
"artist". Consequently I had to graduate in business
management before starting a career in an advertising agency.
Years later, the French government created a local ancestor
of the internet, called "minitel". I was living in
the Paris suburb where this new technology was first tested
at the scale of a town. I was fascinated by this new tool and
decided to start my own business in that domain.
|We were a very small bunch of pioneers
at that time and we had to invent everything. After a while,
I had the great idea to launch one of the very first "chats",
a virtual meeting point, where people could write to each other.
This "chat" was a free access club open to anyone
on an overtaxed line at 10$ per hour. It was a resounding success
with hundreds of people chatting 24 hours a day. On the French
web, these services were paid by the consumers to the telephone
company, who then paid me back 2/3 of the bill. You cannot imagine
the "gold mine" it turned out to! With all that money
pouring down, I could finance any idea project close to my heart.
That' s when I created my own magazine, which allowed me to
live my true vocation : writing . Chatting on this early French
web was a very expensive hobby for consumers, so I knew this
wouldn't last very much longer. That' s why, after 4 years,
at the height of the hype, I sold my company....
and here starts this story :
|Once upon a time
... August 96, weary of the ordinary pleasures of the seaside,
I left my wife and children playing on the beach and went
to write a few letters to our friends in France. My children's
felt pens were lying on the table, so I used them to sketch
a few scattered scenes to illustrate my letters. I sent
out about 20 letters. Back home, at the end of the holidays,
I received a very enthusiastic phone call : "your letter
was great and we absolutely loved your drawings ! You should
become an artist". In the space of a few days, I received
18 identical phone calls. Eighteen ! That's a lot !
"Bet I will !"
... It was then and there that I decided to become a painter
before even having touched a single paint brush. I started
with my wife's watercolor box, my kid's gouache paint brushes
and began my own experimenting. Not taking a few watercolor
lessons and learning it all on my own could be considered
a total waste of time, but instead, I just see the good
side of it: I created my own style !
To be honest, I should tell you that this little talent,
stumbled upon at the age of 42, was written in my genes.
My mother received the first prize of the Beaux-Arts drawing
contest. This small heritage has been transmitted intact
to my children who already draw remarkably well.
October 96, when I decided
to become a painter, I spent about 9 months painting game
birds in still lives. Woodcocks, partridges, ducks, suspended
head down on a wall in the very classic (French) manner.
Why French manner ? In France, artists have always painted
game birds hanging from one leg. I discovered when I exhibited
in the U.K., that British birds were hung upside down, hooked
by the head.
You already know that Brits are very strange. Why else would
they be sitting in the passenger seat of the car to drive
on the wrong side of the road?
My watercolor game birds stood out, perhaps, by their
light, the freshness of their colors and by the meticulous
attention given to each detail. Each individual feather
was painted without omitting any reflected light or any
shadow. I was painting for my own pleasure, taking all the
time I needed to go to the end of my dreams, creating beauty.
As often as possible, I will show
you details of the paintings.
Just roll your "mouse" over the picture to see
the details hidden underneath.
Try it with this strange-looking bat, sleeping in this
weird position to see the details of the feathers.
Most of the time, when a bat has a long beak like this
one, you can bet that it is called a woodcock.
During that winter, my wife and
I were invited for dinner by one of her patients, Veronique O. This
very well-bred mistress of the house found out during the conversation
that I was an artist and she insisted on seeing my work. The following
day, she came to have a look at my first series of watercolor paintings.
She was so enthusiastic about my birds, that she convinced a friend
of hers to hang my paintings on the walls of his stand at the Paris
Country show, the biggest French game fair, where I could meet the
most elegant French hunters, huntsmen, riders and art collectors.
Exhibiting for the first time, I was afraid that someone would
judge my work and, but at the same time, I was very curious to see
the way the great amateurs would welcome my watercolors. It was
a wonderful success. I sold all the paintings that I agreed to part
with and, as a bonus, was very surprised to end up with a few pet
portraits on commission.
The first one came from
Veronique who asked me to paint a portrait of her dog, a
Jack Russell terrier called "Sir Macho". I first
presented her with 3 sketches, ink drawings with very light
watercolor. But Veronique wanted her dog painted like my
birds, life-sized and in my meticulously realistic style.
Let's be serious for a while
and Follow the dog portraitist to see his first
watercolor dog portrait
sur le drapeau, pour accéder à la version française
du Musée du Chien