Dogs' Houses: How Country Dogs Live

1998 - 2000

I miss the days when Ellis and I had time to drive all over the country by our farm, taking photos and becoming familiar with our little corner of southwest Wisconsin. I realized from these drives that rural dogs become invisible - just a part of the scenery you drive by while you're admiring the hills or fall leaves. Many rural dogs lead miserable, lonely lives, chained to outdoor houses. I painted this series of images so people would SEE THEM. A recurrent theme in my work is how to reconcile the desire to make beautiful paintings with the desire to expose ugly truths. I think I failed some of my dog subjects by "prettifying" their situation too much.

 

Some of the images are a bit blurry - these paintings sold pretty well, and predate my digital camera, so I had many old painting slides put onto a disc and, alas, they are not perfect.

The Frozen Dog
The Frozen Dog

Oil on paper image 9 1/4" x 10" 1998 Unfortunately, this beagle really was dead, frozen to her house, when we discovered her.

The A-Frame
The A-Frame

Oil on paper image 6 1/4" x 13 1/8" 1998 (sold)

Edie
Edie

Oil on paper image 8" x 11" 1998 (sold)

The Agoraphobe
The Agoraphobe

Oil on paper image 7 1/4" x 8" 1998 This dog lived in a yard with 5 or 6 other hunting dogs, all separated from each other, chained to their own little houses.

Lady
Lady

Oil on paper image 8 3/4" x 13" 1998

Blue
Blue

Oil on paper image 10 1/2" x 16" 1998 (sold)

By the Woodpile
By the Woodpile

Oil on paper image 7 1/2" x 12" 1999 (sold)

The Vizsla
The Vizsla

Oil on paper image 9" x 10 1/2" 2000

Worst Case Scenario
Worst Case Scenario

Oil on paper image 10" x 8" 2000 I didn't have the heart to paint the mounds of feces these little dogs were standing in.

The Brindle Bear Chaser
The Brindle Bear Chaser

Oil on paper image 7 1/2" x 9" 2000 This dog is a Plotz Hound - a breed used to hunt bears. He's a number to his owner, and spends most of his life, along with many others on the property, chained to a makeshift blue box.

Bear
Bear

Oil on paper image 8 3/4" x 10" 2000 (sold)

Larry and Otis
Larry and Otis

Oil on paper image 9" x 12 1/2" 2000 These two had a very good relationship.

I Live in a Tub
I Live in a Tub

Oil on paper image 7 1/2" x 10 1/2" 2000 (sold)

Freckled Hound
Freckled Hound

Oil on paper image 8 1/2" x 7 1/2" 2000 (sold)

Strange Yard
Strange Yard

Oil on panel 42" x 48" 1997 This painting isn't part of the Dogs' Houses series - it preceded it. I saw a yard full of roosters tethered to blue plastic barrels in Hawaii - no doubt part of the illegal cock fighting industry. They were guarded by a Doberman. Painting that dog by his or her house led me to focusing on rural dogs and their sometimes very sad living situations.

Pepe's Nightmare
Pepe's Nightmare

Oil on panel 12" x 14" 2002 This painting isn't part of the Dogs' Houses series, either, but was inspired by it. Poor, cold Pepe!