December 6, 2013

Homage to Bruegel

There is a painting by Pieter Bruegel of Hunters in the Snow where a group of dogs on the hill in the foreground walk with the hunter past a tall dark tree. The tree passes through the dark body of the dog yet does not blend with it, even though it is practically the same color and intensity as the dog. I have often wondered whether there is just enough subtlety in hue to disconnect the tree trunk from the dog’s body or if we disconnect it ourselves because we can make a cognitive differentiation between dog and tree although they are one and the same on the two dimensional surface.

In my painting of dogs in the woods I did a similar thing to the Bruegel painting of the hunting scene by putting a white dog behind a white tree. Only I was not as confident as Bruegal in making the cognitive shift from dog to tree when they are the same color so I outlined the tree and changed the tone somewhat. But the idea remains the same.

The dogs depicted in the painting are from drawings I made of my father’s black sheep dog. I used these sketches in a number of drawings and with this painting the sketches are now officially retired and have been discarded, lest I be tempted to use them again.

As usual, the painting is a little too stiff for me - most likely because I’ve just switched media from pencil illustrations. A few more paintings ought to work that out and the paint will swing again.

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