Winslow, a Bernese Mountain dog at six months old

Winslow at Six Months

topdogPets 2 Comments

I haven’t posted much about Winslow lately. He’s hit the six month mark, and is weighing in at over 80 lbs. A big boy, indeed! Winslow is a very high-spirited pup. It’s exhausting trying to keep him under control. I think he’s got a definite Alpha Dog vibe, which means he’s constantly challenging other dogs and us. I’ve had to do some research on training an alpha dog, and how to keep them in line. …

Columns at St. Peter's Square, Rome. Photo by topdog

How I Became An Atheist: The Short Version

topdogBeliefs 3 Comments

One Sunday in 2002, The Missus and I sat in church on a sunny Spring day. At the time, the Catholic Church was embroiled in another priest sex scandal. During the homily a monsignor (more than a priest, less than a bishop) implored us to keep giving our money to the Church, despite these horrific incidents.

Hughes Brothers: Murphy

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A few years after I painted Junior, the next Hughes Brother came along: Murphy. A swell looking fellow, he had lighter coloring than your typical German Shepherd, and I accentuated that in the portrait. I think it’s a fair observation that German Shepherds need proper training to be their best at protecting their pack and accepting non-threatening strangers. In a neighborhood setting, you don’t want a dog that is aggressive towards everyone they see. So …

Hughes Brothers: Junior

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We have friends (hard to believe, I know, but it’s mostly The Missus’ fault – she’s too friendly), and among those friends are the Hughes family. Over the course of ten years, they have commissioned me to paint each of their three German Shepherds that have been part of their clan. This is the first, Junior. He had long ears, which I at first thought was a trick of the photos they gave me, but …

Interior Image of a Roman Cathedral

The Resurrection: Thin Evidence

topdogBeliefs 4 Comments

It’s Easter weekend, and I hope my Christian friends are celebrating in whatever way appeals to their notions of what it’s all about. I used to be one of you, but that ended about twenty years ago when I realized theistic believe didn’t make sense for me. Becoming an unbeliever (atheist, if you prefer) was my personal choice; I don’t expect anyone to do the same simply on my word. If belief works for you, …

Detail of Ginger image

Ginger, but not MaryAnne

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I love repeat customers! This portrait is of Ginger, who belonged to the same owners as Bo. In this portrait, I really think I nailed the golden color of her fur. For some reason, I’ve struggled creating blonde and gold fur on these digital paintings. But this was the first where I felt confident all the way through without having to paint over weak areas. I think part of the recipe for success is not …

Bo Feature Image

Happy Bo

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Bo was a singularly happy Bernese Mountain Dog. Well, that’s not entirely correct. Every Berner I’ve known has been, without exception, a super happy camper, so it’s hard to say “this one is the happiest”. And though I never met Bo in person, the photos supplied for this memorial portrait certainly gave the impression of a very happy dog. Possibly it’s the breed, or, more likely, the loving pet parents. Normally, I try to focus …

Beorn in carbonite graphite

topdogPet Portraits, Pets 4 Comments

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my graphite drawing skills. I’m still not quite where I want to be, but each drawing makes me just a little better… and a little wiser. I’m trying to be more bold with my edges. The drawings I see from other artists who give tonal shapes sharper edges always look so much better than murky fades. Attempting sharp edges doesn’t always work for me in the …

Two young siblings

The Storyteller

topdogStories 4 Comments

She was always the storyteller. She could make them up on command. Anytime. Anywhere. I remember one summer afternoon in 1968, we were waiting in the car while Mom was in the grocery store. It was warm and the windows were down, letting in a cool south Seattle breeze. “See that man right there?” she asked me. “The sweaty one with the blue shirt and the frown?” “Yeah,” I said. “He just came to the …