The creative journey of an artist inspired by animals and life by the sea

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Watercolor of Mia

This little cat is named "Mia" and she was really fun to paint in watercolor.  She was given by my dear Aunt Lorraine as a surprise birthday present and Katie was thrilled with the painting.  I have to say, this year is a little slower with commissions than last Christmas, but it is a welcome change.  It is a good time to enjoy the holidays and the spirit of the season without being rushed to complete paintings.  The weather has been wonderful and time outside is often a much needed healthy break from the drawing table.  I am looking forward to a creative New Year!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Best Life Possible

We often go about our day, especially this time of year, rushing around and thinking about the next task at hand.  I was on my way to mail a package this morning when I saw a truck pull out of a wooded area near my home.  As I drove past the spot, I saw what might be something in a bag.  I decided to turn around and go back.  I saw right away it was a small black dog covered by an old white towel.  It was left with a few pieces of bread near it's mouth.  Another car pulled up and a young man got out.  He was on his way to work, but he helped me pick the dog up and put him gently into my car.  The dog was shaking from shock, cold and very scared, but what struck me were his eyes.  He didn't make a sound.  He just kept his eyes on me while I quietly told him it would be ok.   I took him to the local vet and decided to have them x ray him, but we quickly discovered he had very serious injuries to his hind legs, spine and most likely internal bleeding with organ damage.  I waited with him for almost an hour watching his breathing, petting his head and looking into his eyes.   It was then I knew with tears in my eyes...I couldn't take him home.  I couldn't spend thousands of dollars to "fix" him.  I had to let him go.  I love my dogs with all my heart, but we are also given the responsibility to give them the best life possible.  I was able to give him "the best life possible" for a short time.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Athena in Watercolor


This is a little 9" x 9" watercolor of a cute mixed breed dog named "Athena".  The client wanted to show her in her younger days, which can be difficult when they send you more recent photos.  Time goes by so quickly when you have a dog.  Those first months of insane puppyhood seems to fly by...hopefully!  The next think you know you are looking at a grey muzzle and more time sleeping by your side.

Gail Dolphin

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Akino in Fairmount Park

I recently completed this gift commission of a handsome dog named "Akino" from photographs the client sent me.  The  outdoor setting is an area in Fairmount Park in the Philadelphia suburbs where I grew up.  I have wonderful memories of running the beautiful trails there over 20 years ago.  It was so much fun to paint this watercolor and a challenge as always with the customer's photos.  I hope the newly married couple enjoys it as much as I did painting it! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Suli and Alex Watercolor is finished!


First stage with background and masking

I just completed this watercolor of an older dog named Suli and a 17 year old cat named Alex.  This painting is a good example of how I go about my watercolor portraits.  After taking close to 75 reference photos, I created my design on Crescent watercolor board and began by masking out the animals.  I don't always start this way, but in this case I wanted to work on the background first.  After showing the clients the painting, they did have a few minor changes.  The tail on Alex needed to be a little longer and the eyes on Suli needed to be "beadier" according to the owner...funny description!  I made the changes and I hope they are happy with the final result.
Adding detail to animals
Client wants tail longer on cat and eyes "beadier" on dog:)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Not Your Average Goat

My recent painting commission of three Pygmy goats has been quite a challenge!  These three Pygmy Goats are not just your average goats.  They are the winners of the Pygmy Goat National Championship.  This buck, doe and wether are as close to "perfection" in the pygmy goat world as you can get.  So, suffice it to say I have been challenged to paint them perfectly and also please their owners!  Animals, like people, are complete individuals.  An ear or nose painted in the wrong way, can change the animal completely.  It was a fun project and I have learned so much about Pygmy Goats!  The finished watercolor painting image was 11" x 14".  The image is featured on the publication for the National Pygmy Goat Association.  Pictured are the Doe Burntwood Farms Annabelle Lee, the Buck Dream Catcher Little Wing and the Wether Rolling Meadows Eclipse.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

First Stage of Suli and Alex

I have really become obsessed with following my favorite artists now that technology has allowed us to share with facebook, blogs, websites, youtube, and a host of other computer sites.  It has gotten in the way of my work at times and I am constantly trying to keep a balance.  But, I came to realize that artists and collectors love to see the progress of your art from start to finish.  I have written artist friends and discovered new materials and techniques that have enhanced my own art.

This is the beginning of my portrait of Suli and Alex...two very old pets.  I am working on my favorite Crescent Watercolor Board.  As you can see,  in this case I decided to "mask" out the animals and work on the background first.  I took about 80 photographs of the animals, but being indoors did not provide the natural light I well as the challenge of two other dogs and "I think" three other cats tagging along with me.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fear and Doubt

I have been painting for over thirty years and still have so many fears and doubts when it comes to my artwork.  I think this comes hand in hand with being a perfectionist and of course wanting to make my clients happy.  I have cleaned off my table from my last painting,  ready to tackle this new one with a fresh perspective.  But, I am easily overwhelmed by just starting it!  Sometimes, the client will give me the option to pick the size or medium, that only adds to my racing artistic brain!  In this case, the clients are a young couple who had already had these two pets painted by someone who did a terrible job.  I didn't see the final results, but they were so unhappy and the artist refused any kind of refund.  I went to their house and took photos of these two old pets.  The poor little dog is loosing his teeth, the cat is  going blind and has definitely lost the "lustre" of his youth!  It is only more pressure to make them look the best I am able with paint and a brush.  Once I put the water on the board, I hope I can breath life into them...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Painting Small

I decided to enter a judged show that required the art to be no larger than 8" framed.  I had fun doing these little watercolors that measure 4" x 6" or smaller.  I love painting detail, so it was a change of pace for me to complete a painting fairly quickly!  They also didn't require expensive framing and no huge boxes to lug when delivering to the show.  It was a fun and I am looking forward to seeing the show at the Carolina Artist Studio Gallery in Morehead City, NC                                                                          

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sharing Painted Memories

I have to come to the realization that most of my paintings will someday find that special someone that connects with them.  I just sold this acrylic painting I did when we first moved to North Carolina.  We rented a little old cottage along the Bogue Sound and had the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets.  I was inspired every day to paint them and I created this painting with one of my older dogs in the scene.  He had passed a few years earlier, but the scene reminded me of him and memories of his thoughtful gazes.  The painting will be heading to New Orleans on Monday to that "special" person who now shares my memory with their own.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Step away from the computer...

I am an artist, not a computer whiz.  I should have repeated that to myself yesterday before attempting a new website.  My brain is fried and I didn't get any painting done!  I have been researching other online sites that so many artist's seem to have these days and decided I needed to create a bigger and better online site.  Needless to say, I realized after hours of watching youtube videos and trying to set up a new site, that what I had was perfectly fine!  Technology is moving at such a blazing speed these days, but I also have to come to terms with my "techy" limitations.  I sell on fineartamerica, Etsy, Zazzle, and Ebay.  I have a blog and I maintain my own website gaildolphinart that I created through the ancient iWeb program.   As much as I do enjoy teaching myself the computer, it is easy to become consumed by it when I should be creating!  Time to "step away from the computer" and get back to the brushes!

Friday, March 15, 2013

He Loves the Sun

I have been painting animal portraits for people for over 25 years now.  I realized that as many photos I take of my Rhodesian Ridgeback "Socks" or see him in a beautiful pose, I had never painted him.  This is my third Rhodesian Ridgeback, and I know from experience the health problems these dogs can have.  He is the love of my life, next to my husband!  He will be turning eight years old this spring.  He is a reminder of the loss of my Dad that same year.  I got Socks as a puppy at eight weeks old, and eight weeks later lost my Dad to cancer.  The joy of having a new puppy helped me through the terrible loss and sadness of losing him.  This is a typical "look" for him...he loves the sun and a comfy bed.  How easily this painting came off my brushes...I guess because he is so close to my heart.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Riley" is finished!

I got the thumbs up from my client so "Riley" will be off to Pennsylvania when the frame arrives.  This cat portrait was done in watercolor and a touch of gouache on my favorite Crescent cold press watercolor board.  I am so happy I spent many years as a custom picture framer.  It really helps to have the know how when a client wants their painting framed.  I chose a beautiful brushed silver frame to go on "Riley".

Monday, February 18, 2013

Paintings in Progress

I recently received a commission to paint a watercolor of a cat from the customer's photographs.  Most of the time I take my own reference shots, but there are many times where that is impossible.  In this case, cell phone images and email photographs were the only way for me to see the cat.  I have never liked showing my work in progress.  Knowing that it isn't finished and balancing that with the client's expectations can be really tough.  I had to ask the client a few color questions so sending a progress shot of it via email seemed to be the best solution.  It seems like yesterday that I was using my 35mm camera, film, mail and actually speaking on the phone with real people!  So, onward with more hair for Riley and adding the "invisible" flowers!