Jack is my companion at all times, and as he has a basket at the ready for snoozing in up in the studio, it’s little wonder that he occasionally makes appearances in my paintings. Here in a detail from The Rapture (2011) he’s been angelically hoisted aloft, along with his master, like aerialists from Cirque du Soleil.

Jack is an accomplished model, and he posed beautifully in the studio for this starring role alongside Raphael and the angel’s young charge, Tobias. Of course I didn’t dangle Jack from a hook in the ceiling while I painted him. He was lying on his side in his basket, but by depicting his harness as though it’s bearing his weight, and his ears as though streaming in the wind, the illusion of flight is conjured. Tobias’s untied and ribboning shoelace is probably my favourite part of the composition, along with Jack’s sideways look at the viewer. The oversized hand belongs to Raphael, the ‘catcher’ in this trapeze act.

It’s interesting to note that before I ever read the bible account of Tobias and the Angel (or the Tobias-themed novel Miss Garnet’s Angel by Sally Vickers), I always assumed the dog in the many paintings I’d seen of the subject, belonged not to Tobias, but to angel Raphael. It took my friends Nicolas and Frances to point out my error, by which time I was already wedded to my own notion. And so I reinvented the story, in my head, as one in which a dog arrives unannounced and is taken in as a stray by Tobias, though in reality it’s an emissary sent on ahead to smooth the way for its true master’s arrival. (This is my habit. If a story doesn’t quite fit together as I want it to, then I’ll add a subtext that no-one need know about other than me. In this way I’m like an actor figuring out the back-story that makes his character tick.)

In this detail from Green George (2007), Jack accompanies the maiden on a grassy knoll overlooking the killing-field, where both may have met their fates in the jaws of a dragon had not Saint George intervened and saved the day. Jack looks very interested in the action, and as soon as the dragon has been dispatched, he’s going to come down to check that the deed has been done well!

Finally we have My Dream Farm (2010), shown here in its entirety. You’ll have to play spot-the-dog with this one, as Jack is so small in the composition that he’s easily missed. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Read Damian Walford’s Tobias and the Angel poem The Rapture, HERE.

11 thoughts on “jack-in-the-studio

  1. I found him straight away!!!

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of work quite that bright, Clive. It’s absolutely electric.

    When I saw the title of this post flash up in my inbox, I let out a bizarre cross between a butch “wheeeey!” and girly scream of hysteria. That’s just what that dog does to me, clearly.

    • Jack says:

      “It is an important job, being a model, and it is very difficult. I am ‘The Artist’s Dog’ and that makes me quite famous. In the studio I have to stay very still and look cute all at the same time. Try it. It’s no picnic. I think sometimes I fall asleep, but mostly I think about ‘whoozahandsomeboythen’, which is what Master says to me all the time when I am being a model. I look pleased and wag my tale, though I have no idea what he means. (Dogs do this a lot, look pleased and wag the tail. Seems to keep everyone happy.) There are bats in the studio, which can be distracting.

      I caught a rabbit, but I didn’t eat it. I took Master to see where I had put it in a dark place under the stairs. It was cold and still (I think I might have done that) and so he took it away. But I can still smell it there.

      When are you coming to get me? I shall wear my ‘flying’ harness. It is yellow.”

      • Dear Jack

        I fully appreciate the rigorousness of your endeavours, given I find it impossible to sit still or look cute, let alone manage both at the same time. It is testament to your enviable discipline and star power.

        You certainly know how to get around your Master. You know, Jack, I’m beginning to wonder if he’s not quite the omniscient magician I first believed him to be. Perhaps the moon and stars on his hat aren’t correctly aligned? I shall certainly make no comment about the effectiveness of wizard’s wand.

        It’s a good job I wasn’t around to witness this. Poor rabbit.

        Sure I am that you look wonderful in yellow. It will be soon, Jack. Soon.

        Note to master: Richard Whiteley’s partner apparently has hold of my post about him as she has liked it, which is very sweet. I wonder what she’ll make of our comments about Carol Vorderman? (blushes slightly) Haha, let’s hope we don’t get on the wrong side of Vorderbot, anyway. Be vigilant, and avoid any suspect-looking number puzzles.

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