Press "Enter" to skip to content

UNFINISHED: When Dog Chose Man

A legend told by several Native American tribes goes something like this (both the picture and the words are my own interpretation):

When the world was new and no one yet knew their place, God decided to divide Man from the other animals. He set Man on one side of a line and the rest of the animal kingdom on the other. Then he spoke and the line began to crack open. Soon it was a chasm, separating Man from all the rest.

At the very last moment, just as the chasm was becoming impossibly wide, Dog made a rebel choice. He dashed away from all the other animals and leaped across to join Man — where he has faithfully stayed forever after.

This painting is unfinished and will probably remain so because I’m petrified of ruining the dog, whose flight I think is beautiful.

My technical flaws are many. But I’m getting my illustration mojo back.

The specs: 9″x6″, mixed media on cream-colored Stonehenge paper. (Underpainting of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus watercolor, graphite pencil, black ink, colored pencil, touches of acrylic paint.)


  1. larryarnold
    larryarnold May 18, 2017 2:49 pm

    Cats, of course, ignore the chasm, teleporting back and forth at will.

  2. Shel
    Shel May 18, 2017 3:59 pm

    Then political cartoons ought to be a snap.

  3. Claire
    Claire May 18, 2017 5:41 pm

    “Then political cartoons ought to be a snap.”

    Political cartoons???? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Oh, please God, noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!

  4. Claire
    Claire May 18, 2017 5:43 pm

    “Cats, of course, ignore the chasm, teleporting back and forth at will.”

    🙂 So true. Like little cosmic villains they are, cat-burglaring in and out of reality, choosing only for their own benefit.

  5. MJR
    MJR May 18, 2017 6:35 pm

    Nicely done Claire. BTW as for cats, they don’t teleport… they’re smart enough to let man jump the chasm and come to them. Remember dogs have masters, cats have staff.

  6. kentmcmanigal
    kentmcmanigal May 18, 2017 7:21 pm

    It doesn’t look unfinished to me. It looks perfect. Don’t paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa… unless you really think it would improve her looks.

    I think the suspicion is that cats are the only animals who “domesticated” themselves. Of course, it’s on their own terms and they are wild and self-sufficient anytime they aren’t in the presence of their humans (and sometimes even then).

  7. Pat
    Pat May 18, 2017 7:57 pm

    Amazing! Don’t change a thing, Claire.

    Even the dog’s facial side view indicates its intent and determination to reach the humans. And the people, as small as they are, are well-delineated (and with shadows yet!). Very well done.

  8. StevefromMA
    StevefromMA May 18, 2017 8:34 pm

    Now THAT is a great painting and expression of the dog.

  9. Deb in SD
    Deb in SD May 18, 2017 9:08 pm

    Claire – it’s a beautiful painting. Don’t change a thing.

  10. Coyote Hubbard
    Coyote Hubbard May 18, 2017 10:16 pm

    God held up a handful of ash and blew into it saying,
    “Let this be a perfect creature”
    And out of that hand, ran the dog.

  11. Coyote Hubbard
    Coyote Hubbard May 18, 2017 10:43 pm

    BTW, this is my new desktop background. Scaled perfectly to 1920×1080 without noise.

  12. Jim B.
    Jim B. May 18, 2017 11:39 pm

    “Don’t paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa”? I’m the sort that would use a wall painter’s brush to paint a Van Dyke on the Mona Lisa. 8 D

    Seriously, talk about ironic timing, I just found this link on the Drudge Report about banning a certain something that is the cause of a festival.

    Hopefully it’ll lead to it being permanent.

    Should warn that the article’s pretty graphic.

  13. E. Garrett Perry
    E. Garrett Perry May 19, 2017 12:24 am

    Oh my!
    Claire, these illustrations keep getting better and better! The sense of kinetic energy, of almost-flight, is just splendid.

  14. Joel
    Joel May 19, 2017 5:51 am

    And his last words to the animals as he left were “They’ve got the only can opener!”

  15. Claire
    Claire May 19, 2017 1:19 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, You Fantastic Commentariat, you.

    So I’ll laugh over Mona Lisa and perfection comments (especially Mona Lisa with Mustache comments). And I know cynical Joel has it right on the motives of Dog. But that felt good to hear.

    Special kudos to E. Garrett,Pat, and SteveInMA for noting the sense of movement and determination. I’ve never been good at depicting things in motion, but you saw what I was getting at.

    In person, the picture does indeed look a little unfinished. But that’s better than overworking it. Or — in the new phrase I’m going to adopt, that’s better that “putting a mustache on it.”

  16. Shel
    Shel May 19, 2017 1:39 pm

    In more than one other type of endeavor, a cliche is “The enemy of good is better.”

  17. fred
    fred May 19, 2017 2:48 pm

    I like it a lot Claire.I enjoy your art very much.

  18. Furrydoc
    Furrydoc May 19, 2017 7:58 pm

    Love this painting, maybe I could borrow it and display in my office when the remodel is done.

Leave a Reply