Ema 2005(?) – 2020

Oil painting of a dog.
Ema. Oil on linen, 2010

Our little dog Ema passed away today. She was about 15 years old, and probably a mix of miniature pinscher and rat terrier. She was found abandoned in Naples in August of 2009, and brought to Florence for adoption. As a painter’s dog, she had to move around a lot and she seemed to love going somewhere new everyday. Funnily enough, the only place she disliked was my painting studio. At the time I was doing less studio work and more plein air landscapes, so it worked out fine for both of us.

Ema. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel

She had a good life, full of travel and adventure. She ate fresh lobster on the docks in Maine, she peed on the golden staircase at the Danieli, and she hunted crabs in the marshes of South Carolina. Despite her small size, she was very brave. She once charged a bear on a beach in Albania, she leapt from the window of my moving Land Rover to chase a stag in the Val d’Orcia, and she drove off a boar one night in Maremma. She ran across beaches and through fields from California to Nova Scotia, from Holland to the Alentejo, and from Normandy to Zagorje. She lived in Naples, Florence, Zagreb, Limburg and Estremoz, and she summered in the Hamptons, on the Dalmatian Coast, or in the south of France.

Plein air painting of a sleeping dog.
Ema Sleeping. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel

She was a muse to many and had poems, songs, and a book written about her. As an artist’s dog, she was often painted and sculpted. These are a few of the works I did of her.

Ema. Oil on linen 2014
Ema. Oil on panel, 2012

She was very loved, and will be greatly missed.

Ema, marble
Ema, marble
Ema, marble

Here are some video clips of her from over the years:

Bergen Sketches

Here are few sketches from the past week in Bergen, Norway. It stays light here until midnight at the moment, but the weather has been iffy. I hope to come back next June for a more intensive landscape painting trip.

Sailboats, Bergen. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

Bryggen, Bergen. 18 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Sailboat, Solheimsviken. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Miki in the Sun. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.


Dog Portrait

Emma. Portrait of the Artist's Dog. Oil on linen, 40 x 35 in, 2010.

For Valentines day (and our anniversary), my wife wanted a portrait of our dog, Emma. I’ve tried to paint her from life a couple of times but she tends to curl up into a little black ball and generally resists any attempt of mine to keep her looking even slightly picturesque. The other day I was photographing paintings in the studio though, and she hopped on a little stool next to me and struck different poses for about 5 minutes.

The dog was painted from the photo, and the background was painted from life. The sketches behind her are mostly from our neighborhood where she goes walking everyday.

Luckily my wife was pleased. In my experience, people are often much harsher critics of a likeness when it comes to portraits of dogs than of people.