Portrait of my Labradors
Drakkar was my labrador from 1988 to 2000. We had a great time together in shooting parties when he was young. He was a terrible poacher, retrieving all the game birds of the line in front of my place. Later on we became both woodcock addicts. Hunting very quietly just looking for this mythic bird, he became a great pointing dog. I wrote many novels in magazines, where Drakkar was the hero. It was normal to keep a portrait of my best friend. The main obstacle to paint a portrait of Drakkar, was the fact he was photoshy. As soon as I had a camera, he used to take ridiculous poses. To get this snapshot, I surprised him while he was sleeping in the sun. Here, he is just waking up.
The greatest difficulty then, was to paint a black dog. In watercolor, if you use the black paint, it seems there is a hole in the picture. You have to mix a dark blue, a red and a yellow to get a beautiful black. This black will have violet or brown-red or dark-green reflects regarding the ratio of the different colors. I painted Drakkar hair by hair, using the smallest paint-brush, a 3/0. As this portraits is about 35x45 cm, it tooks me about three weeks to achieve it.
|I intended to paint him like a sphinx, with his paws. But, my paper was too small. Is'nt it stupid ? Error of the youth. As a painter, I was about two years old, at that time. Roll your mouse over the picture, you will see Martino, an italian yellow labrador painted on commission like a sphynx. a few monthes later.|
When Drakkar became too old to hunt a whole day woodcocks, I went to see my friend Frederique de Bellecisze who is an excellent labrador's breeder. As a painter is always looking for five cents to make a dollar, I did not have enough money to purchase one of her lab pup. But as Frederique has allways been one of my real fan, we made an exchange. For the price of my pup, she gave me a commission to paint a portrait of her daughter's dogs: two border collies. You have a photo of this portrait at the bottom of this page. It is so that I bought: Porte-Plume.
"Porte"= to carry & "Plume"= feather or pen
"Porte-plume" in french means at the same time "drawing pen" and "bird-retriever" ..
A great name for a labrador, is not it ?
When he was young, "Plume" was so white, that he was like silver shining. He just had very light golden reflects at the end of his tail, like a paint brush diped in an ink-pot.
He was a very youg pup, three monthes old, when I brought him to hunt in the marshes.
remember a shooting party at that time, when a friend of mine asked me to
find one of his snipes in a jungle of reeds. Drakkar, my old labrador, had
a glance to "Plume" saying :
- "now, kid, look at the way you have to do your job". Plume sat on his tail and watched his teacher working. Drakkar looked at the place where my friend was, and started a large circle around him, nose up to catch the wind. All at once, he caught a smell, turned his head towards this scent, crawled very slowly 2 or 3 meters and stopped, pointing like a marble statue.
Plume, then, got up on his paws, followed the exact course of his teacher, paw by paw, step by step. He tryed to catch the smell at the same place where Drakkar had caught it, turned left, crawling towards his master. As he was a pup, he crawled under Drakkar's belly , till his head was under his teacher's one. He pushed up Drakkar's nose to take his place. I saw him catch the scent, and point then straight like a wooden beam. After a while, he suddenly charged to catch the dead bird. He was so proud, retrieving his snipe, head and tail up to show it to everyone of us !
I painted a portrait of him with his first snipe. You can see it underneath at the bottom of the page.
On this portrait, my labrador on the red checked armchair, is 4 years old.
If you roll your mouse (or pointer) on the image, you will see details of his head. If you are a painter, you can imagine the time it tooks me to paint these red lines and checks in watercolor ! and then to blur and darken it, to give this depth to the painting.
Underneath, you can see my labrabdor "Porte-Plume", with his first snipe at the age of 3 monthes.
From the Home page, you will find a link to the comic strips with "Porte-Plume" hunting woodcocks.
Now after these simple dogs portraits, I will show you my compositions, where the dog is a pretext to paint a great picture, showing his master's hobby, but also my skill in still life paintings.
|this dog portrait on commission was the price of my labrador retriever :"Porte-plume"|