by Scott Broecker
Three artists with different styles.
• The first adds a touch of mystery to his paintings with his predominate use of blues and black, contrasted by the warmth and wonder peering back at you through the hypnotic eyes of his Bluedog.
• Another working with a wide blend of complementary colors paints deep shadows of blue, black, and green, combined with the rosy mid-tones and warm sunlit highlights that make his subjects pop.
• The last artist works mostly in black and white and relies on the gentle gradations and tones of his applied charcoal to lift his subjects off the paper
and eventually off the canvas.
George taught himself to paint back in 1953 when he was a young boy stricken with polio. He received a paint-by-number set from his mother to help get him through his long hospital confinement. During the temporary but life-threatening illness, George learned to master the pre-outlined artworks and quickly moved on to putting his own creative works on the reverse side of the canvas.
First starting out as a portrait and landscape painter; it was not until 1984 that George would first create his iconic blue dog. Using a 10-year-old photo of his long since passed studio dog Tiffany as inspiration, George added the blue-hued dog to his book “Bayou Stories” to illustrate the mythical legend of the Loupe-Garou, a kind of cane field and graveyard werewolf with red eyes. Softening the image over the years and changing the eye color to yellow, George now adds his blue dog into infinite Louisiana landscapes and colorful backgrounds. George says he never knows what his next bluedog will look like until the paint is laid down, but he can chart his creative history by looking at the style of one of his earlier works.
Having painted presidents, statesmen, and celebrities, George has also used his Bluedog as an expression of social commentary: the sorrow after 9/11, FEMA’S slow response after Katrina, and standing up against the racism of gubernatorial candidate David Duke.
During Hurricane Katrina, George lost thousands of his prints that were stored in a New Orleans warehouse. Helping to rekindle the strength of the city, George created special relief prints that went on to benefit the Red Cross, the New Orleans Symphony, and many other artists and musicians that suffered losses during the storm.
For more information about this compassionate artist visit www.georgerodrigue.com or visit his Carmel-By-The-Sea studio located on 6th Street between Lincoln and Dolores Streets.
Leaving Los Angeles for the more peaceful Sedona, Arizona and switching his artistic focus to mainly canine portraiture, Ron Burns paints with the vibrant colors that to him best express the genuine love of life and great zest shown to us by our dogs.
Inspired by his own dogs and the countless others he visited in shelters, Ron adds color, character, and texture to his subjects with bold patches of layered acrylic paints in a style that reflects a combination of Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Matisse, three of his early artistic influences.
Not always having the opportunity to meet his canine subjects, Ron feels as though he can read their emotion and character through a photograph by looking into their eyes. And with this spiritual connection, starting with the eyes, he can be guided through the painting process.
Some of Ron’s paintings show us the serious side of being a dog, like his portraits of service and shelter dogs with their expressions of patience and devotion. Ron also loves to show us their playful side with his caricature paintings of Rufus and other enthusiastic pups driving, lounging, playing cards and staring up at us with their inquisitive eyes.
Ron recently published his second book, Rufus Rhymes, a lullaby book for dogs which he beautifully illustrated. Ron’s first book, The Dogs of Ron Burns, chronicles his earlier works. Ron’s artwork also graces the cover of an inspirational book called Love Heels about the non-profit organization, Canine Companions for Independence.
Ron’s devotion to supporting animal causes and giving back has earned him the recognition of The Humane Society of the United States, naming him as their first artist-in-residence. Recently, proceeds from Ron’s paintings went to help fund the rebuilding of a Jacksonville, Florida Humane Society Shelter tragically destroyed by fire.
Ron and his wife, Buff, now live in Scottsdale, Arizona with their two fur bearing kids, Loganberry, a 5-year-old Labrador mix and Emma, a 3-year-old Rottweiler mix. Learn more about Ron’s artwork and books at www.ronburns.com.
Whether it’s capturing that special bond between people and their pets or transforming an old photograph into a full size masterpiece, Marvin Plummer’s artwork is soulful indeed.
Marvin began by drawing and painting portraits of his beloved Jack Russel/Chihuahua mix, Wanda, while in art school. He was soon drawing the dogs of family and friends and getting many requests for pet portrait commissions.
Giving up an intensive, sometime 14-hour a day job as director at a graphic design firm, Marvin has finally been able to settle into doing what he loves, creating beautiful pet portraits of the animals most represented at animal shelters: dogs, cats, rabbits and birds, as well as doing other commissioned pieces.
Working out of his studio, a 500-square-foot loft in an artists’ collaborative on 17th Street in Santa Cruz, Marvin uses the large board and batten walls of the former auto repair and parts warehouse as his easel and also to display his completed art works. Using a medium of charcoal and watercolor paper, he intentionally mounts his work vertically to allow any of the excess charcoal to fall free and not tarnish the portrait.
Starting out by rendering in the initial shape and tonality of his subject, Marvin slowly brings his compositions to life. Continually applying and removing charcoal, he builds up subtle gradations of light and dark, giving his images greater depth.
Once a portrait is completed in charcoal, rather than applying a fixative to protect the drawing, which would flatten the built up textures, Marvin’s portraits are photographed in ultra high resolution and then printed onto canvas. His works hang in several prominent buildings in Santa Cruz, including a permanent
display that greets visitors in the entrance and hallways of the Santa Cruz Animal Services building on 7th Avenue and Rodriguez Street.
Marvin also teaches classes at his studio as well as teaching shades and values and other drawing basics to students at Mission Middle School in Santa Cruz. With a couple of beautiful classic surfboards suspended from his studio ceiling, Marvin misses the chance to get out and catch waves since he works late most nights. With his and wife Amy’s first son on the way in September, he says surfing takes a backseat to his artwork. Visit Marvin’s website at www.MarvinPlummer.com.