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Blame the cat

Mr and Mrs W and Callie


This painting was made at the suggestion of Alfie who has featured in several of my other paintings. All that water and trees in “The bridge in summer” made me want to paint people again. I like to switch between subjects, as he knows, to keep my imagination fresh.


“Go on,” he said, “let her show her good side. She doesn’t just chase rabbits and deer when told not to, and even swim rivers in her eagerness to get them. She can be the very model of a good dog.”


I thought I would do a conversation piece as so many of my people pictures just concentrate on a single figure, often accompanied by a cat. This called for two figures at least. I could remember two that featured a man and a woman. Gainsborough’s “Mrs and Mrs Andrews” with a couple and their hound settled under a tree. It is all about him. No conversation, just “look at me and what I have: a wife, rolling acres and the leisure to shoot over it.” Herself is a decorative appendage, Henry Moore’s “King and Queen.’’ A man and a woman side by side, staring out across Yorkshire, not talking to each other, but sharing ownership.


Well. I wanted a conversation. I decided to have two figures leaning in. I dropped a line along the centre of the canvas and imagined a triangle going to the two bottom corners. I borrowed the dog from Mr Andrews and put it there, conveniently forming its own triangle.

Both of my references featured a bench, so I borrowed that idea too.


I dressed them up with cues from life. The bench is based on a bench in our garden, helpfully placed in front of two very bright green trees. (Tick the reference to landscapes.) The bench sits on paving from our terrace. The pink sandstone complements the bright green of the foliage.


The dog we know well, Cally. She belongs to our son and daughter in law. By way of apologising to her for appropriating her image she gets name checked in the title. She is looking for them, not the two figures she is next to. One of them you will recognise from several of my pictures but the man is my self-portrait. I dressed them in clothes that we wear every day.


Both the bench and dog are very textured. The bench by thirty years of wind, rain and wasps and the dog comes scruffy as part of being a Labradoodle.





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