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Bailey's Journey

If you are a follower of my Facebook art page called Ian Mackenzie Art, you will have noticed several videos this week of the build up towards the final piece of artwork called Bailey. This is a portrait of a Hungarian Vizla, one of the medium sized breeds of dogs, famed for its prominent position among sporting dogs.

I was asked by a friend if I could capture this family pet in oils in his familiar pose, grandly sitting one leg slightly cocked to the side. We met up and of course, I could not resist, as we chatted of days gone by and our mutual love of our canine family members.

Bailey had passed away and was deeply missed at home. He held such a prominent place within the family. This was obvious by the collection of photographs and the stories I heard of him accompanying them on many trips and holidays.

So, looking at the couple of photos we had chosen, I got down to work. The difficulty that I had was that different pictures gave various light and shade patterns, and I had to blend these into the main pose which was blurred and pixelated.

However, I was determined to ensure that Bailey would be something special, and as such, in order to achieve the photorealism I wanted, I had to ‘go large’. I doubled the usual size of the canvas and started sketching.

I applied the first undercoat of dark paint, a mixture of alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, and a touch of cadmium yellow. This gave the underlying depth to the fur. Then it was a careful construction of the shape of the face and body by applying thin layers of fur with a small brush to create Baileys structure.

In one of the videos I mentioned that the painting had 100,000 brush strokes. I was not joking. Painting both the face and the body needed such detail, and this was documented in the form of video and stills as the painting progressed.

Slowly but surely, Bailey started to emerge from the canvas. Proud and regal, he stood tall with his one leg characteristically slightly leaning to the side. The final touches were applied, with a background referring to a location the family spent time at with him, and he was ready for drying and varnishing.

Creating luxury art, no matter whether it is of a loved family pet or a controversial subject, is something that is close to my heart. A part of me is always in each piece, and in speaking with those that ask for work from me, I try my best to ensure that their thoughts and ideas are reflected in such creations. This point I believe is critical to producing artwork that will capture everlasting memories for those concerned. And in doing so, there is always a small deep-seated regret in parting with each finished canvas.

I guess this is not a bad thing as it keeps me connected with the journey each one took me on, and the enjoyment that others now have in owning luxury artwork that I was privileged to have created for them.

I never really understood how artwork could connect people so much until I started down this road, a road which is never ending and always adventurous with every junction, and a road that I never want to end.

Ian Mackenzie

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