Good things come in small packages or so they say. Sometimes those good things are trembles; a staccato succession of nervous, high-pitched barks; frenetic scampering; and utterly adorable cuteness. The cuteness! My God, I don’t care an iota about the bad PR they have because, people, I have held a warm, little, sweet, 4-pound chihuahua in my hands and it licked my thumb. The tongue was the size of a dime. I would’ve swooned but I feared for the dog’s safety.
To know is to love
Few small dogs hold a place in my heart like a chihuahua. I adore them. How could you not be smitten by the smallest dogs on earth? Yet, when you say “chihuahua” you will get a wide range of options covering the full spectrum of love to hate. For myself, the chihuahua defines irresistible. I see a chihuahua and I want to touch it.
When I first decided to paint a dog portrait, there was no contest—that painting would be a chihuahua portrait. They completely capture so much as a breed all in one tidy little package—huge personality, sprightly energy, springy movement, and an abiding, deep devotion to their people. I picked my reference photos and set to work on my beloved chihuahua.
After my initial washes of tonal color to sketch in proportion and scale, I quickly mapped in the eyes and sent it to a friend to simply announce, it’s begun! I was shocked to hear back, “I love it!” Love it? Wait, wait, I’m not done yet! That’s just the start, only the beginning.
It’s a complicated relationship
But he persisted, no, the color and the abstract quality, I love it. This totally changed my course. I was planning on a tight, formal approach to painting this dog and I’m so glad I didn’t continue on that path. I most enjoy painting with a representational goal but with the rich, impressionist brush strokes and color blends left on the canvas. I feel it celebrates, well, the paint. That is what it is after all, paint on a canvas.To capture the subject yet keep the truth, let’s say, of the medium and perhaps add some feeling or nuance with the use of color is the complicated mix I always want to achieve. It’s a complicated thing, like a chihuahua.