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Gun Dog Artists You Should Know

Gun Dog Artists You Should Know

Let's face it: many of us love our dogs almost as much as our kids. So it makes perfect sense to memorialize a beloved gun dog. A great work of art is more than a mere facsimile of the real thing.

A quality drawing, sculpture or painting can unleash the spirit and essence of an animal in a way that photographs can't. I think that's because art is created by human hands through careful labor, and therefore conveys homage.

Whatever the reason, here are four terrific artists you should know.

Paul Chinelli

BEING AN ARTIST: 'I think my favorite thing about being an artist is the possibilities of things yet to do. I have so many images yet to create, so many dogs and horses and people yet to meet. I've been a horseman since I was 10 years old.

"I think we (mankind) owe a tremendous debt to the horse, and my art is a repayment of that debt. We also owe a great debt to dogs. In fact I literally paid a dog debt with art once. I got my first bird dog pup 25 years ago by trading a portrait of the stud for the pup, because I didn't have the money for the pup. Dogs bring things out of us that we ordinarily would not do, simply because of our relationship with them. '

Paul Chinelli

CREDENTIALS: Chinelli studied for three years at the School of Visual Arts in New York, then graduated from City College of New York.

He was Art & Creative Director for Barnes & Noble Books in the 1970s, and has worked as an illustrator for the New York Times, Gray's Sporting Journal and numerous other publications. He has designed more than 125 postage stamps for 10 foreign countries.

Paul Chinelli

FAVORITE WORK(S): 'I love pointing dogs, personally, because they are so statuesque in the field. My favorite dog works are generally pointing dogs. Recently I decided to start a series of all sporting breeds, holding the gamebirds for which they are best known. So far I've only completed the first two, yet this series is already one of my favorite works.

"But some of my favorite works are the life-size portraits I've done of horses. Those are a lot more work than canine portraits because, unlike dogs, a horse won't strike a perfect pose. Dogs are predators, and very alert. But horses are a prey animal, and they have a different type of alertness — it's the alertness of vulnerability. '

Paul Chinelli

FAVORITE MEDIA: 'I've specialized in graphite for a long time. I also do etchings and painting, but graphite is my favorite. It allows me to interpret color, rather than merely present color. Everyone sees different values of red, blue or other color likenesses.

"Most animals don't see the spectrum we see, and they are confined to what you see when you look at one of my graphite pieces. That's what's challenging, but it's also what's so fun about working in black and white. I use 19 different pencils on these pieces, and they take about 100 hours to finish. '

Marie Fritz Perry

CREDENTIALS: Perry was one of 10 portrait artists recently chosen by AKC's Family Dog magazine for their portrait work. She is also a writer and illustrator with two published children's books. Perry studied art and art history at Smith College and the Chicago Art Institute, with additional post-graduate work at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. On average, she does 25 large-scale artworks per year.

FAVORITE MEDIA: 'I'm trained in oil, but pastel is a medium that I've really grown to love. It was used by the impressionists, and it truly frees the spirit of the dog. Many of my clients are gravitating toward pastel for this reason. It gives expression and emotion to the work that oil simply doesn't, in my opinion. I like oil, too, but I love pastel. '

Marie Fritz Perry

BEING AN ARTIST: 'Art is my main profession, although I do teach private art lessons as well. My mother was a professional freelance artist, and I grew up in her studio. We lived on a farm where my best friend was a very trusting dog. That bond between human and dog is a gift, and I love to illustrate that bond through my art. '

FAVORITE WORK(S): 'My two favorites are relatively recent works. One is a black Lab in a boat with a day's bag of ducks. I completed that piece as a benefit donation for a little girl with special medical needs. Her father is an avid hunter in Ohio, and the picture depicts her dog. My other favorite is 'Oh My Captain,' which I did for a man in Florida. Both of these works went beyond a traditional portrait, and provided me with a scene into which the dog could be placed. '

Stan Bentall

CREDENTIALS: Bentall had planned to become an architect when he went to college. After about three years of study, he realized architects only design things, and he wanted to make things. He left architecture school and started working as a self-taught sculptor.

He took his first sculptures to an art gallery and was refused, on the grounds that hunting dogs were deemed an unworthy subject matter. So he opened his own gallery in 1963 in Orange County, California and enjoyed a very successful career as a sculptor for the next 50 years. He moved the gallery to Santa Fe 30 years ago.

FAVORITE MEDIA: 'I love bronze because I love to make things with my hands. Sculptures are three dimensional and can be felt. Some clients have even used smaller bronze replicas on the tombstones of their dogs. Sculptures are also more unusual than paintings or drawings. Not very many people work in bronze, because it requires such an extensive investment to get started. '

Stan Bentall

BEING AN ARTIST: 'I love sculpting dogs because I've loved dogs all my life. When I was a child, I would trace pictures of hunting dogs onto blocks of wood and cut them out with a coping saw. To this day, when I'm sculpting, I don't feel like I'm working. I almost feel guilty because I 'work' on holidays and weekends and forget that my wife may have other plans. '

FAVORITE WORK(S): 'I know it's a cliché that many artists say, but it's the truth: The sculpture that I'm working on at any given moment is always my favorite. '

Ross Young

CREDENTIALS: Ross Young holds a M.A. from Tulsa University and has been a professional artist ever since graduation in 1980. He is a lifelong hunter and angler. His accolades are too numerous to list here, but they include covers for more than a dozen major magazines. The Bird Dog Museum and Hall of Fame has nearly 50 of his paintings on display.

FAVORITE MEDIA: 'Oil, without a doubt. '

BEING AN ARTIST: 'I love the independence and living a lifestyle in which work and pleasure cannot be separated. ' (When we contacted Young for this article, he was on a 'painting excursion ' in Alaska and the Yukon, hence the rather brief nature of his comments€¦can you blame him?)

FAVORITE WORK(S): 'My favorite painting is always the next one I'm going to do. That's what keeps my juices flowing. '

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