My apartment has few rooms and lots of windows. As a result, I have few walls. This situation has probably had quite a lot to do with the current state of my art making. I have made zillions of paintings and drawings in dozens and dozens of books and this decade or so of art all fits on three bookshelves. I rarely make anything to hang on the wall, because there just are so few walls to hang things on.

However, recently I decided to make a friend a painting as a gift, a portrait of her beloved American Eskimo dog, Lilly. She has ample wall space and I knew I’d not be imposing too much by presuming to take over a couple of square feet.

I bought myself a nice sheet of hot press water color paper, I think it was about 200 lb. I have taken quite a few snaps of Lilly over the years so I felt confident working from photos. There were a couple of challenges. It’s just a different problem creating picture to hang on a wall, hopefully for years, and I had to be uncharacteristically careful not to spray random bits of paint all over the place as is my custom. I also had to design the image I’d be making to stand out from afar, and to be viewed by people just coming into the room, not at all the sort of intimate relationship someone has when reading through an old journal in their lap.

Another challenge is that Lilly is all white and very furry and I wanted to represent her in realistic and tactile way. I also had to capture her expression and personality, which would be difficult with so few visual elements besides a black nose and eyes in all that white fur. I decided to do that by having no drawing in the piece, no ink, just pure watercolor, layered with a very light touch. The intensity comes from the colors that surround her and she is almost all negative space.

I am fairly comfortable with results of my experiment and my friend seemed delighted. The painting is at the framing shop now and I look forward to seeing it on a wall sometime soon.