For me, the loveliest stage of creating always begins after the initial panic of “how am I going to do this?!?” Once I embraced this project, I allowed my mind to float about randomly, letting visions of puppies frolicking on the walls of the room swirl about in my head. I love this part of the process – so much hope and promise of what the final product will evolve to be. The sad part about this stage is that the art in my head is often more beautiful, more creative, and more full of life than the version that ends up in my journal or painting, or in this case, on the walls.
Until this project, the dogs I drew were mostly my own – standard poodles. I needed to learn to draw the different breed characteristics. I keep different sized journals, depending on what I feel like carrying; however, a small one is ALWAYS with me. I also place journals in the different places I spend time so I have no excuse not to grab one to draw an idea. I worked primarily in four journals on this project. Everything relating to the mural was captured: sketches, ideas, dimensions, paint colors, supply lists and to do lists.
My drawing references started with Google images and various books. I found images that were similar to the ones I had in my head. I watched videos of puppies to see how they interacted – the visions in my head wanted very much to capture the frolicking shenanigans that made puppies so appealing. I watched cartoons. I went to pet stores. Whenever I’d find someone with a puppy, I sat and watched the puppy play. I pulled out all our puppy photos and videos. I twisted my own dogs’ limbs into various poses to see what their anatomy would allow. My dogs are saints!
This process started before I traveled the four hours to see the room for the first time. While envisioning, I placed no practical restrictions regarding the physical space or the time required. Of course, the practical part of my brain was very concerned about these factors. Would the puppies I envision work on the walls? Would I get the mural done in a timely fashion, preferably before the walls needed to be repainted or the owners retired? All these things were set aside, however, while I let the ideas percolate in my brain, unfiltered and joyful.