Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Portrait of Belle, by Shirley Deane/Midyett

“Belle” (detail)
For Patsy

By Vic Midyett

As you may recall, Shirley paints pet portraits. Of course, when you announce something like that, you receive inquiries. And when you report it on an international blog, the inquiries are likely to come from far away...and quickly. One such came three days later:
Please tell Shirley that my sister Patsy commented on her dog portrait that she would like to have a portrait painted of her dog, Belle, a lovely chihuahua.
    Shirley was open to considering this, so she asked for photos of Belle. The inquirer replied:
​Patsy was grateful that Shirley is willing to consider doing a portrait of Belle, and she is looking forward to my helping her with photos when we visit her in August. Belle, by the way, is one-eyed – she was mauled by some dogs whose food bowl she innocently approached – and Patsy wants her to be portrayed as one-eyed (rather than for Shirley to work from photographs taken before the mauling).
    Shirley and I both found it touching that Patsy wanted to honor her little friend’s loss, and Shirley was looking forward to this particular project.
    In good time, we were sent four photographs of Belle, and we liked the one Patsy indicated was her favorite “pose.” Shirley set to work, doing a little every day during the week that ended August and began September.
    She is challenged to capture a pet’s character when she hasn​’t met it, but the painting developed as the days of the week went by, and she put probably over 20 hours into it. Now, she would look at it for a few days before knowing for sure whether “that’s it!”

Every morning I make Shirley a cup of hot tea as she sits up in bed. Her easel is about 15 feet away, facing her, and during her work on Belle’s portrait, her eyes would always go straight to the photo and the painting. On September 6, she jumped out of bed, grabbed a brush and some paint, and made one itty-bitty addition. She said, “I’m close now. I know a painting is finished when the painting looks more ‘alive’ than the photograph.”

“Belle” (4" x 4")

    In the package we mailed to Patsy, Shirley included a note and a drawing of Belle from another of the photographs she’d been sent:

Copyright © 2015 by Shirley Deane/Midyett & Vic Midyett


  1. i am so impressed with Shirley's skills, tell her hi from me :-)

  2. Thank you so much, Susan. I so appreciate you too. And back at ya mate! Shirley