Judith Johnson








A personal dog interview

During my childhood, a love of dogs instilled in me by my grandmother was further encouraged by my dad. I still have the very first dog portrait of our feisty foxie cross Brick (Wall)- drawn and most carefully laboriously "coloured in" - when I was 12.

Years later, cocker spaniels began mysteriously appearing in some of my paintings in supporting roles. Soon, dog lovers approached me to paint their beloved pets, a queue of dogs thus waited in the wings for their turn at stardom.

My flyer states:  ‘A personal dog interview guarantees a memorable likeness’. I try to capture the spirit and personality of each dog - plus the characteristics of the breed, unique features or colouring.

Owners usually have a favourite anecdote or mannerism they find most endearing about their pet. I incorporate this narrative into the work, to capture the essence of the dog’s special connection with its owner - such a fun part of the process. The context of the subject can be quirky or sentimental and it’s my job to find these symbols and elements to capture the dog’s personality. A likeness is often captured in surprising and delightful ways.

Dog owners are seriously, deeply attached to their pets and quite often a portrait is commissioned as a special gift within the family…to the great delight of the owner.

I chose ‘Classic Dog Portraits’ as the title after I discovered a slim volume in the National Portrait Gallery, London called  ‘The Face in the Corner’ by Robin Gibson - that book contains notable animal portraits in the classic European tradition. Including  not only portraits of dogs but also cats, a monkey, a toucan, and even a goldfish.  Each little face in the corner is beautifully painted - a small classic.

My most recent subject is Molly is a very pretty blue roan Cocker Spaniel who has just been interviewed by Nadyat El Gawley for the ABC Radio National programme ‘Artworks’ on Sunday morning .

I regard my Classic Dog Portraits as a special gift to the owners and I spend an enormous time on the work - it is truly ‘a labour of love’ for me. Concentrating on the eyes and expression of a dog I try to capture that special look of unconditional love and utter loyalty, which means so much to the owner.

@ Judith Johnson 2013. All rights reserved. Paintings photographed by John McRae

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