Eleanor & Pushmepullyoudesign

My sister forwarded me some dog illustrations featured in an e-newsletter from Eleanor & Pushmepullyoudesign.  I recognized this Philadelphia animal illustrator immediately as I follow her site often.  Her clean graphic work reminds me so much of one of my favorite artist, Charley Harper. However, I didn’t see much canine work on her site until I got these images from my sister.  They are so adorable that I immediately emailed Eleanor to invite her to be a featured artists on my blog.  You can find out more about her through her blog and site.  In addition, the website Grain Edit features an interview with Eleanor.  I did asked her two of my very important questions and here are her answers: 1. Cat or dog person? “I have two cats, but I say, cat or dog person: why choose!” and 2. Do you have an animal and what kind?  “I have two little kitties – one is a fluffy lady, and the other is a cute little trouble-making boy.” Her animal images, designed using Adobe Illustrator, are featured on everything from keds to coffee mugs. These images were designed for a UK magazine.

Posted in Eleanor Grosch, Illustration, Illustrator | 2 Comments

Amber, Mascot for the Navajo Code Talkers

Amber is a 5 pound Chihuahua that has the honor of being the mascot for the Navajo Code Talkers. While setting up the shoot for the Navajo Code Talkers, I asked Vicky Jarveson, her owner to go get her.  “She’s right here Debbie,” as she unzipped a small black bag that she had set on the table.  Amber emerged slowly from the bag, stretched, and then looked at me, as if saying, “All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

Amber’s uniform is similar to the military ceremony dress worn by the men. Her little shirt was tailored by Jeannette Peaches wife of Code Talker Albert Peaches using the same fabric as her husband’s shirt. Her wardrobe also includes  a tiny collar pin, a Navajo turquoise bracelet the width of a dime, and the official Navajo Code Talker Association pin.

The photo shoot went fairly well with the normal wiggles and squirms.  Then Albert Smith arrives for his scheduled portrait shoot, solemnly dressed in his Navajo Code Talker uniform—Amber goes wild. Here was her purpose in life, hanging out with her guys. She didn’t bark, after all she is a lady. But she wiggled and wiggled begging to be held by Mr. Smith.  At first he pretended not to notice, but then he gently picked her up and with a twinkle in his eye he whispered, “hey, little Cookie Monster.”

Amber is the granddaughter of a Chihuahua owned by the Code Talker Jack Jones.  Many Code Talkers own Chihuahuas.  A Code Talker, long since gone, often shared with the group the belief that one of their main deities, Asta Naadlee, had a pet Chihuahua and that owning a Chihuahua is thought to bring abundance—not necessarily monetary abundance, but abundance of crops, children, health, or happiness. I don’t know which of these Amber has gifted Vicki’s life, but she certainly brought laughter and joy to that photo shoot.

In honor of Veteran’s day, this picture and story were published in the November/January 2010 issue of The Bark Magazine.

It is now a year later since that shoot, and  I now proudly serve as volunteer, secretary, photographer and multimedia designer for the newly formed, Dine Code Talkers, a non profit organization that focuses on educational and PR activities of the Code Talkers here in New Mexico.  The website:  www.dinecodetalkers.com should be up and running early summer.

Posted in Amber, Navajo Code Talkers, The Bark Magazine | 5 Comments

New theme

I am using a new theme, called Rising Sun by Eric Crooks. I love it. Nice clean sharp lines form a perfect backdrop for a blog about photographs and illustrations.   It took most of an afternoon to add my 3-dog logo to the banner of the blog.  Had to get into the c_panel of my website to make the changes…a very very scary place!!

Working with Word Press is hard!!! I love reading Word Press comments and instructions that say: “just download Word Press, select a template and start blogging.”  Yeah sure, when I first started my blog it took over 2 days just to download WordPress application and set up a template much less start blogging. I could have designed 3 websites in the time it took me to just to get my blog going!!  Anyway, happy with Rising Sun and hope you like it.

Posted in Word Press_computer files_blog | Leave a comment

Lost files

Amber, my neighbor’s dachshund, was caught in this picture winking….probably just had something in her eye, but I would like to think she was winking at me.  And Toby, surrounded by pumpkins donated by a friend.  What do these images have in common?  I lost the the files from these photo shoots!!  No matter what procedure I follow there are always little cracks in the system.

Amber’s shoot was lost when a fairly new portable drive (Western Digital) died on me.  Took it to the “Geek Squad” to retrieve the data…$250 to send to their main office…the drive only cost $100!!  The Toby shoot was lost when I was backing up several files and I disconnected the drive from my laptop before they were all transferred.

The only reason I have these two images is that I emailed them to my sister and I found them in my email “sent” files. Now I religiously download the pictures to my laptop 10 seconds after I finish the job, attach a job number to the file, renumber all the images in the file and copy them to 2 drives and my Mac computer. I only use Seagate drives.  I’ve never had problems with them with my Mac. Live and learn.

Posted in Amber, Toby, Word Press_computer files_blog | 2 Comments

Props

I am learning to have absolutely everything ready when photographing animals.  Of course, I am always prepared for any photo shoot, but this principle is especially true when dealing with animals.  This photograph is an example of me not following my own rules.  Titled, “Give me some sugah,” the feedback on this image is that Toby looks grumpy. Quite the contrary.

Background story: Toby, and I went to the studio where I had all the props ready; hat, backdrop, camera, lights.  Once everything was set up, I went outside to cut some of the mistletoe that grows on the pinon trees on our property. Of course, it was December and I assumed that mistletoe would be abundant. I went outside…no mistletoe!  Walked for an hour around our five acres and finally found some at the front of the property at the top of a huge tree. Using a broom as a spear, I was finally able to knock some down.

Interesting factoid about mistletoe, thanks to my entomologist brother-in-law: the seeds of mistletoe are very sticky.  The seeds stick to the claws of birds and that’s how they get from tree to tree growing on the top branches. Anyway, I guess December is not the high season for mistletoe…at least not in Edgewood, NM.

By the time I returned to the studio the dogs were dead asleep snoring away.  I woke Toby up and he did some posing, but he was so sleepy he could barely keep his eyes open. And that’s how this photo end up with this mean looking glare.  Lesson learned: be prepared…photograph the dogs while they are fresh and active.

Posted in Props, Toby | Leave a comment

Copper

Released this month is the book version of one of my favorite e-comics, Copper.  Written by Kazu Kibuishi,  Copper is the story of Copper and his faithful dog Fred.  I first stumbled upon Copper in the anthology Flight, a book that features several artists writing and drawing comics around the concept of “flight.”  There are now six volumes available in the Flight series and Kibuishi is not only a featured artist but the editor of the series as well.

I think of Copper as the 21st century Calvin and Hobbs, Wallace and Gromit, or Peanuts and if you like any of the aforementioned comics you will love Copper.  The adventurous Copper and his worry wort sidekick, Fred, enjoy activities that range from dancing with robots, mountain climbing, surfing and, of course, flying. One of my favorite pages is a hike in which both quietly comment about the beauty of a bug and a waterfall. Another is the story of their preparations for their “Maiden Flight,” a fantastical flying adventure that needs a quick stop at “Plane Mart” for parts and a set of parachutes.

Although Copper is the title character, Fred, like all canine sidekicks, is the heart of the story.  Basically Fred is drawn as two balls, one for the head, another for the body all atop of four cylinders for legs.  It is Fred’s big sleepy eyes and giant uni-eyebrow that Kibuishi uses as a tool to bring humor, sarcasm, friendship, drama, pathos and love to these stories. You can also find Copper and information on Kibuishi’s other books (Amulet 1, 2 and 3, Flight volumes 1 – 6 and Daisy Kutter) on Kibuishi’s website, Bolt City.  But I advise that you buy the book. Each story is not only beautifully rendered, but the lovely colors are a feast for the eyes. Plus in the back of the book Kibuishi explains in details how he draws his comics, scans them into Photoshop, and prepares the pages for download onto the internet.  I always appreciate when an artist shares his/her techniques and insights to the creative process.

Posted in Copper, Illustration, Kazu Kibuishi | 5 Comments

Favorite Christmas Present

Handmade by my nephew, Wes, this Snoopy is by far my favorite gift this Christmas. I can’t remember the last time I’ve received a homemade gift…I don’t include homemade cookies, cakes, candy….I love those gifts…and don’t stop giving them to me!!!

My little sister noted that her favorite gift when she was a kid was a pillow I made her in the shape of a dachshund. That comment made me think that ‘homemade’ gifts have gone the way of the VCR. Today many gifts are purchased in bulk, online, or the ubiquitous gift cards were we actually have to go out and buy our own gift!! Make no mistake, I love gift cards, but the time and effort Wes took to make this Snoopy made me realize how precious the homemade gift is to receive!

Another issue about this Snoopy is the simplicity of the form.  The basic “bean” or “amoeba” shape is used for the head and body, squiggles for nose and eyes, and two black ovals for the ears all together form one of most famous canine in comic/cartoon history. When I find that drawing or photographing my dogs becomes a big brain block, I think of Snoopy or Fred (see blog entry: Copper) and tell myself “keep it simple, simple, simple” and go from there.

Posted in Illustration, Kazu Kibuishi, Snoopy | 1 Comment

Props and costumes

I am always on the look out for fun costumes, props, ideas.  One goofy idea was to dress Toby as a construction worker…think Village People??  I was walking (limping) down a row in Home Depot and came across this hard hat and cone. The hardest part of this shoot was getting the hat on his head.  The inside of a hard hat in no way shape or form matches the outside shape of a dog’s head. The dog paws on the hat and cone are just “shapes” in Photoshop.  Select the “shape tool” then select the shape you want which is found in the toolbar that pops up when the shape tool is selected.

Second hand shops, closets, attics, garage, kitchen all are great sources, but I’ve found that the best place for props is Target.  At the entrance of Target there are several rows of seasonal items…all priced from $1.00 to $2.50.  Many of the items such as witch hats, small scarves, santa hats are all sized for kids and baby heads and are ideal for dogs. Other items such as decorative papers, candles, pencils….items school kids love are also available.  I found this wonderful little mail box and bandanna and used them for a Valentine’s Day photo shoot.

Posted in Costumes, Props, Toby | 9 Comments

Models

Dogs are much like humans in that some dogs are photogenic and some are not.  Photogenic: 1. looking attractive in photographs or on film : a photogenic child. 2 Biology (of an organism or tissue) producing or emitting light. Photogenic is a concept I have always found fascinating.

Everyone has two eyes, nose and a mouth, and a specific combination makes for a great picture or a bad one.  It doesn’t matter if the person is good, bad, mean, sweet, the “photogenicness” of a person is totally random.  It has to do with the structure of the combined elements.  The covering or the skin or fur can all be “fixed” in Photoshop, but the structure of the head cannot. Examples can be found in pictures of models or movie stars standing next to their siblings or parents.  They might look similar, but only the “star” has the “it” factor that makes them “light up” the screen or picture.

Elko, is a perfect example of this.  I’ve taken literally thousands of pictures of him and he always looks exactly the same.  Toby can look serious, funny, happy, sad, mad, “tilt his head” curious, but Elko has only one look….glaring.  Ironically, Elko is the sweetest, happiest dog in the world, not a mean bone in him, a caveat for those adopting a cute dog (take time to look at the mean, ugly-looking dog).  In this picture I cropped him to his basic feature….his yellow eyes. It is body posture that tells us when he is happy (which is always), sad, or upset.

Posted in Elko, Model and modeling | 1 Comment

Bodhi Brinkley

I’ve done therapy dog work at hospitals, trained therapy dogs, and had therapy dogs visit me during my endless months of recovery, but this little guy, Bodie, does therapy work all on his own.  Bodhi is my massage therapist, Greg Brinkley’s, little dog.  The illustration you see is what I see when I am on the massage table face down waiting for my session to start.

Bodhi runs into the room and sits under the table, looking up at me wagging his tail so hard his whole body is in motion.  One look at his little face, and all the troubles of the day seem to melt away.  As soon as the massage starts, Bodhi, goes out to the porch off the studio and sits looking out over the mountains, guarding the studio…part of his DNA as a Chinese guard dog. After the massage he walks along side me, watching carefully as I maneuver down the stairs with my cane.  He then bounces toward the office with a small yip, “she made it, she made it, she didn’t fall over, here she comes.”

Just a small story…but I find that it is these little encounters that end up being the source of an illustration.  FYI.  Greg is the best massage therapist I’ve ever had. His studio is in Tijeras..surrounded by peaceful mountain vistas.  http://lovejoyhealth.com Great getaway for relieving daily stress and tension.

Posted in Small dog | 8 Comments

Ricky Miller

Transcript of phone conversation: June 20, 2009, 13:47 Mountain Time. Begin transmission…..

Ricky: (Ring, ring) “Woof, Debbie, this is Ricky, your favorite dog model. I heard you started a blog and I wasn’t your choice for your premier issue of your new blog….what’s up with that?”

Debbie:Ricky, that’s true.  I’m sorry.  I was focused primarily on setting it up and it was a lot of work.  I still don’t even know what half the stuff is on the column to the right….meta?  I started with Rosie because she just happened to be the dog I had photographed the week before. Yes, you are still my number one guy.  How about she will be my first ‘bitch dog’ post and you will be my first ‘male dog’ post, OK?  Have you checked it out yet?”

Ricky:No, no, but I will….woof…good-bye”

Ricky: (Ring, ring) “Raaaargh…raaaargh….raaaargh….!  I saw your blog. Wow, she’s smokin’ ….what a cutie.  I had no idea.”  Debbie, please, please, can I have her rabies ID number…woof, woof. I can take her to the Los Altos Dog Park, maybe some dessert at the Flying Star or maybe a couple of biscuits at the Three Dog Bakery.

Debbie: “Ricky, Ricky, whoa….hold the phone, I don’t know about this.  How about I have my people call her people, then her people can call my people and then my people can call your people.”

Ricky: “Ok, OK, woof, woof, I’ll be waiting, panting by my phone. But, please hurry up and in the meantime please post some of my pictures…pick the best ones.  I want her to see what I look like…too bad you can’t post my lovely scent on the web as well.”

Debbie: “OK, Ricky, will do.”

End Transmission

The many poses of Ricky Miller

The many poses of Ricky Miller

Ricky is on my speed dial for modeling opportunities.  Only 17 months old, Ricky is an extremely well behaved, adorable and sweet Bedlington Terrier.  Bedlington Terriers are small to medium-sized dogs bred to be agile hunters whose head and back along with a soft curly coat makes them look very much like a lovable lamb. http://bedlingtonamerica.com/index.htm

Barely a teenager, Ricky has undergone extensive training and just graduated last week as a therapy dog for Therapy Dogs Incorporate (TDInc). http://www.therapydogs.com/ He will be working along with his mom, Deborah Miller, as volunteers at Lovelace Rehab bringing joy and smiles to those who are hospitalized or bedridden.

Ricky is extremely confident and hits many of his poses with absolutely no problem.  He possess a wardrobe… the quantity and variety that would be the envy of any fashionista.  As you can see above he is a versatile model….cool Harley Dog, dancing with his toy, the Harry Potter look, and the “I’ve had enough primping look.” I hope, in the future, to be able to shoot him in all his different regalia.

Posted in Bedlington Terrier, Ricky Miller, Small dog, TDInc, Therapy dog, White dog | 14 Comments

Rosie

Welcome to my first entry to the Three Dogs a Month Blog.  This blog is about dog photography and illustration.  I will be featuring mostly my work, but will discuss and add other features and images related to dog photography and illustration.

My first entry is about Rosie. Rosie is an adorable 15 month pup who just happens to live next door.  I promised my neighbor Virginia I would photograph her new puppy, Rosie and, as usual, something always came up.  We would schedule, cancel, then reschedule.  Finally I called and told her to bring Rosie as is. I am  finding that much like kids, puppies just want to be their natural selves…fancy grooming just makes them nervous, makes them feel like something is up.  Leaving them as is and just having them over is like kids just going out to play…no big deal.  So here is Rosie pretty much “al natural.”

During the first half of the shoot she was squirming, trying to get off the table, refusing to sit, grabbing treats, and just overall not paying attention.  After a couple of breaks, for some reason, she stood still and finally seemed to realize she was the center of attention.  I caught her in this, my favorite, pose.  It seems to say, “I’m Rosie, I’m a dog, hear me roar (bark) and although I’m only 10 pounds, I have all my four paws on the ground.”  The pose where she is in the bucket was a fluke.  She didn’t seem to want to be in the bucket and at this juncture I just let her go and I caught this pose.

This next picture is something I am planning to photograph every time a dog comes to my studio…their own unique toy. The toy has no relation to the size, breed, temperament of the dog.  It is the object, that each particular dog has chosen as it’s own personal “thing.”

Posted in About, Rosie, Small dog, Toy, White dog | Leave a comment

Welcome to the Three Dogs a Month Blog

Given my propensity as a big motor mouth and a self-avowed computer nerd you would think I would have had a blog a long time ago.  Well here it is, finally, in all its glory, Three Dogs a Month.  The title derives from my website, Three Perros Design, www.threeperros.com.  My website title comes from the fact that, one, I have three dogs, and two the domains, “Three Dogs” and Tres Perros” were already taken so I blended the words Three Perros.  “Three Dogs a Month” is also a goal for the blog: to post something at least three times a month…forget that I will ever get around to updating my website. My other goal is to just provide a weekly (actually every 10 days) smile to you as well as to myself as we slog through this journey known as life and to highlight the animal companions that ride along with us.

Posted in About | 6 Comments