Art 1 – Blue Dog – due 4/29


Look at the following video on George Rodrigue:

and the website:

pay particular attention to bio and art/gallery

Make comments about:

1. the pros and cons for you about  the visual aspect of his works (what you like and don’t like)

2.  the ideas in his works and the interpretation of his paintings (especially the 911 painting)

3. the contradiction between the high market value and the negative reviews by art critics

In your sketchbook, do an hour drawing in the style of Rodrigue, of any animal (preferably a current or former pet) in a setting or location which adds to the overall meaning.

In class, your next painting will be of a familiar animal in a setting or location which adds to the overall meaning.  You may do it in a realistic or Rodrigue style, with realistic or exaggerated colors, realistic or exaggerated form.


22 responses »

  1. What I like most about George Rodrigue’s art is it’s simplicity and subject matter. I find it intriguing that he chose to remain in Louisiana and not go to New York, painting Cajun people and their traditions. Even though I like the icon of the blue dog, I prefer this older work, especially the Hank Williams painting.

    Rodrigue’s Blue Dog series was inspired by the Cajun loup-garou myth. Though the dog initially appeared in Cajun graveyard paintings, Rodrigue began to feature the Blue Dog in pop culture paintings and abstract paintings. For instance, the dog appeared in a 9/11 painting–stark white and terrified. The dog represented Rodrigue’s own social commentary.

  2. 1. I like the colors that he uses, they’re very bright and lively which is definitely New Orleans. They’re happy and kind of humorous sometimes, which I also like. Like openthewindow, I prefer his older work though. I loved the movement and the personal aspect to the paintings of the people and places he grew up around. The blue dog paintings are fun, but they’re completely overrated and I don’t think his talent level or creativity lines up with all the fame and money he’s gotten from them.

    2. The 911 painting was pretty simple, he painted the blue dog in white with red eyes against the backdrop of an American flag. It was supposed to show how all the color had been washed out, and he was in a state of shock and fear I think. I don’t remember exactly what he said. Again, not a lot of depth or creativity in the painting, though it was a nice nod to the tragedy I suppose.

    3. Despite his paintings selling for thousands of dollars, and the blue dog completely blowing up all over, he still wasn’t getting a whole lot of respect from art critics. I’m not surprised since this type of thing happens a lot- a good parallel to draw would be music. Most top hits on the radio, don’t have very meaningful lyrics, weren’t even produced by the artist, and don’t take a lot of skill to create.
    Yet, the artist get’s a lot of fame, and billions of people listen to it because it’s catchy. Now, if you were to actually evaluate the song, the same way you would a painting, there’s clearly many more songs, or paintings that require more talent, but that doesn’t change the fact that the song or painting that wasn’t that difficult to produce, is much more famous and well liked over all.

  3. I really liked the clear, bright, and colorful look of Rodrigue’s paintings. I especially enjoy the paintings before blue dog, because they portray such happy times, and seem so carefree. The con of his paintings for me is that because blue dog became such an icon, his works don’t differ as much anymore, only the background really changes.

    For the first twenty five years of his career, Rodrigue didn’t paint blue dog, but painted scenes from the Cajun world he grew up in in Louisiana. Then he came up with the idea for blue dog, which was based off of a Cajun mythical wereworlf. Rodrigue says that blue dog is a “vehical to comment on life today,” which he uses most notably in his 9/11 painting. In this painting, all the color has been sucked out of blue dog, leaving him stark white with red eyes in front of the American flag. Rodrigue is using blue dog to portray the fear and devastation that has hit all of America.

    Rodrigue says that agents and galleries try to tell him what will sell best, but he does not care what sells best, he’s going to paint what he wants to paint. He says “what sells best is what I want to do.”

  4. 1. I really like the idea of the blue dog because of the way it is such a sweet character and the ways in which he can pair in with any backgroung to portray his message. I like when he uses more faded backgrounds against the vibrant dog. I would prefer that he kept the dog blue throughout all of his paintings (besides the 911) for consistency. It would also make the 911 painting even more powereful if it was the only dog that was not blue.

    2. He began to paint his dog in a cajun setting because thats where he grew up. After a while he started painting the blue dog with other backdrops as well and the dog showed the emotion that he felt about the scene. He eventually used the dog to critique aspects of our society. In the 911 painting the dog is white with red eyes because the country was in shock, and drained of all its colors. George rodrigue painted the dog to look how he felt.

    3. George Rodrigue laints for himself and not for others and that makes his pieces more genuine. He isnt bothered by negative reviews and his paintings sell so well and they are so well known because he paints what looks best for him and not what other people tell him will sell.

  5. 1) What I like about George Rodrigue’s stile is, like Fat Cats Eat Bacon, is the vibrant colors and vivid hues used in his art. It really makes his subjects pop out. However I dislike the actual blue dog subject. Although, as Sushi pointed out, the simple subject matter can sometimes be used to great effect, what you have to keep in mind is that he’s been churning out blue dog’s for over twenty years, and after all that time, it gets kind of old. Painting one subject over and over again is like having a conversation using only 100 different words. You can still convey some meaning, but after some amount of time, you just cant express anything more and start repeating yourself.Although in the video he said he didn’t think of himself as a one trick pony, you have to admit he hasn’t really done anything else of note. This blog post is called “Blue Dog” for crying out loud, it’s not even named after the artist. When you are known as the Blue Dog guy, you have to admit that you are a one trick pony. And while that one trick might be good for a while, after some time, say twenty years, it just becomes a ploy to get more money. That’s why I think he keeps doing the same thing, its the thing he’s best known for and the thing people will pay the most money for.

    2) The 9-11 dog was compleatly white, not blue like it usuly is, with red instead of yellow eyes. I think that most of what can be said about this painting has already been said, as it conveys a simple message. Like Sushi, Fat Cats Eat Bacon, wallflower, and openthewindow, and undoubtedly many after me, the Dog represents the shock and devastation felt by Americans when the terrorist attack happened. There isn’t really much more meaning that can come out of this, and in my opinion most other blue dog paintings.

    3) George Rodrigue aperently didn’t cair about how famous and chriticly aclamed his art was. I wouldn’t eather. That is, I wouldn’t if I was becoming a multi-millionaire off my art. Who cares if you aren’t chriticly aclamed by “experts” in New York, if people are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of your paintings, chances are your art is pretty good and your on the right track. Did George Rodrigue not care about art chritics because he was truly painting from the heart, or because he was a burgeoning multi-millionaire? It is not for me to say.

  6. 1. I really enjoy the colours he uses, because they’re vibrant, and well balanced. I also like the character of the blue dog, because it’s just a cartoon dog which is blue and there’s nothing wrong with that. What was a little strange to me is that he repeated the concept of the blue dog so obviously. I understand that’s what he was going for, but if it was more subtle and more of an “I-spy” type of thing.

    2. He said that the idea of his works was to show that just because the blue dog is always the same doesn’t mean that there’s not a different meaning behind each and every one. The 9-11 dog was white and pale, with red eyes. When I first saw it, staged in front of the flag, I thought that the US presence was so powerful, the blue was drawn out of the dog and into the flag. Then it turned out it was because the dog was so shocked, and I think the red in the eyes further enforces that idea.

    3. He said he doesn’t really care what neither the critics think nor how much money he makes, because he’s doing what he likes/believes in and that’s what sells best. He is also really compassionate, and donated a large sum of money when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I don’t think he was really concerned about what the critics had to say, but maybe he just doesn’t want to let it on.

  7. 1. The vibrant colors, as other people have mentioned, really make the subject matter pop, and lend the paintings a lively feeling. However, I feel as though the blue dog motif is overdone. It would be less obnoxious if it was the subject matter of his paintings every now and then, or more subtly, as ecilA said. It’s not bad to have a theme connecting multiple works of art, but when it’s every work of art from a certain point onward, it gets to be a little much.

    2. Although the blue dog reappears again and again, the scenery and context change. Thus, the blue dog can be utilized in myriad ways. The 9/11 painting, to me at least, seemed not to be about the color being washed out, but the blue dog, and America, going white with shock. For when war comes to us, comes here, when it’s not somewhere else, shock and fear shake the country.

    3. From the dichotomy of the high market value and the negative reviews, we can see that critics do not always dictate public view. Sometimes, they are disregarded, rightly or not is another matter.

  8. 1) pros: bright bold colors, interesting shapes, he constant presence of the dog, the dog makes me wonder a”why”, mix of styles
    cons: the constat presence of the dog (it gets a little boring), the paintings are almost childish( thats not always a bad thing)
    2) The blue dog is no loger a work of art, it ha been turned into a pop culture icon. From the video i gathered that Rodrigue isn’t really making the blue dog to symbolize anything, he is just mass producing these paintings to make money. In the beging it may not have been this way. He may have drawn the blue dog because he was failing at drawing landscapes and he wanted to creat something he felt connected to, a blue dog. Maybe he was jsut going for the shock factor.
    3) amy personal opinion is that the blue dog works seem like they would be amazing for interior design, and an interesting painting to add to your collection to mix it up a little, but they don’t seem like they are very refined works of art. THe critics may not like his work because it is a mix between different styles. It is neither realism, nor impressionism, and its not rally pop art. His Blue dog paintings ar kind of a mix of all three.

  9. 1) I really liked the bright color like everyone else. Sometimes when you see bright color you just assume happy but I think he has done a really good job mixing the colors. He mixed them so they are still bright but not just bright. The only emotion isn’t just happy there are other emotions involved. The thing about the blue dog is that I think it has gotten too popular. An artist is suppose to be able to paint anything but the blue dog has gotten so popular that I think he is stuck. If he decided to paint something other than the blue dog people may not like him as much which would be a bummer for him because he is a great artist.
    2) I think the 9-11 dog is very powerful because it makes the viewer think. The blue dog isn’t blue anymore and doesn’t have yellow eyes he has red. The US presence is very powerful and overwhelming. The dog has lost his color and given it to the flag. And the flag has taken over the dog which is why the dogs eyes are red. The red from the flag is now on the dog.
    3) He does a very good job of not letting people tell him what to paint. Everyone is a critic and some are harsher that others. They have bigger opinions. But he doesn’t let that stop him. He paints what he wants and put the dogs where he wants. He doesn’t listen to people when they tell him what he should paint to get big money. He paints what he believes in.

  10. Forgot to answer the last question…

    I think anything as interesting and thought provoking as the blue dog idea will get a fair deal of criticism, as well as a fair deal of praise. Strong reactions are an indicator that an artist’s work has a lot of meaning and causes the audience to feel passionately about something, whether or not they agree with the views of the artist.

  11. Blue Dog is a very compelling character. He can be cute, questioning, sad, happy, surprised, and/or innocent all at once, depending on the painting. He is often placed in front of a landscape or abstract setting, but he isn’t tied into the overall piece. This makes him like an interloper who suddenly finds himself in the painting and is reacting to it much like the viewer reacts to the dog. I generally like the pop style, but it has a tendency to be repetitive and mundane. Rodriguez is no exception.
    The 9/11 painting shows blue dog drained of color with red eyes on top of an American flag. He looks shocked and frightened. This represents the general emotion of the country at the time as we copped with such tragic event.
    I’m not surprised that Rodriguez doesn’t recieve much praise from critics. His paintings border on insipid and often lack the depth and complexity that critiques love to puzzle out. But his painting aren’t for the critics. They’re for anybody who can project their emotions onto a quirky dog and gleam some comfort and joy in the process.

  12. 1. I like Rodrigue’s blue dog because it’s very creative and in funny. The dog’s eyes and eyebrow were especially interesting, because it makes blue dog looks cute in that expression like shock. Blue is also a good color choice. Rodrigue uses the bright kind of blue that fits well with the relaxing style. On the other hand, the dog is pretty fashion as a inventive character. I would like a T-shirt with the picture of that blue dog. What I think is the con of blue dog, is the lack of artistry— Almost little change was made in every blue-dog painting.

    2.The blue dog is like a strong personal signature that occurs in every painting of Rodrigue. In fact, the blue dog doesn’t have a real sense in each painting. In the 911 one. Rodrigue painted a white dog to show the shock of that disaster— all the color dropped off.

    3. That’s always happen in the world and it seems Rodrigue doesn’t care about that. The blue dog is popular, and it is success. I don’t find anything to criticize even the dog is lack of variety.

  13. 1. I enjoyed Rodrigue’s style of interpreting things with minor modifications. That was, afterall, how he came up with the blue dog. The color scheme of the dog itself is also interesting, as he chose two near-complementary colors – blue and yellow – which contrast nicely. The only con I can think of is the repetition evident in his work.

    2. The blue dog itself has a cultural significance in that it represents a folkloric tale from Southern culture. However, the specific reflection of horror shown by the color scheme within his 911 painting is particularly striking. Coupled with the American flag in the background, a symbol of patriotism, it displays exactly what was going on in everyone’s mind on 911 through Rodrigue’s viewpoint.

    3. The criticism of the blue dog probably arises from the fact that it is repetitive as well as the fact that it isn’t within the generalized range of high-yield art portrayed by many critics. I find the works perfectly fine, so the discrepancy is most likely just a difference in perspective.

  14. 1) I like how he can use one image such as the dogs and create different paintings from it. He does a good job of modifying paintings and changing the tone, the color scheme, and the depth of images. He plays around with things a lot. However, this can make for a fairly monotonous variety of images that all focus on the same object like the paintings with the dogs. And sometimes the images feel a little forced, as if the background has been painted to accommodate the the object.

    2) The blue dog is the signature touch of this artist. It is always the focal point, but in the 9/11 painting, the dog is white and pale and not as vibrant. This shows that the usually stunning dog is now not quite itself. I feel like this is how us as Americans felt on 9/11.

    3) His artwork is worth a lot of money because his work is popular and recognizable. He has his own style and people like it, although critics may not agree.

  15. I really like how he uses mostly dark colors but uses them in a bright way. like he uses dark yellows and greens and blues but they are still vibrant. His blue dog painting was not my favorite but it was still very cool. The thing i liked most was the trees he did, which were very dark but had a bright background and the setting they were in kind of looked like a marsh type area.
    The dog is more pale and not quite itself in the 9/11 painting and it reflects the mood of all Americans on that day. His art is worth a lot of money because it is unique to him and it is easily recognizable as his work.

  16. The blue dog has a very unique style that is specific to the artist which i think is good but also has been commercialized and become something that the artist himself cant get past. Although the fact that it is such a prominent figure can help in ways such as marketing and conveying certain messages i think it limits the pieces of work. It can also be very easily over done.

    The 9/11 painting was a very important piece. The dog was white on an american flag background. i think it was very important to the time and a way to express an important message in how he varied from just the blue dog.

    His art has become so valuable because of how it is commercialized and applied to the time, people have made the blue dog a important figure to the era.

  17. I really love the simple fact of having that same exact blue dog in all those paintings, but in so many different types of places. I also like that it looks very much like his family dog (what a coincidence). If i had to choose a bad thing of his paintings it might be that he has changed the colors on some of the dogs. I do very much enjoy his white one because of the symbolism, yet there is something about it that doesn’t quite fit for me. But overall i love his art.

    The dog always seems to have some kind of message with it, or a image of something to think about. I agree with rosie ring (above me) that the 911 piece was very important. In that painting the dog is pale and has red eyes, as if he isn’t himself anymore, just as we were. The fact that all the many other paintings have that very colorful dog in it makes the 911 one with the white dog shows even more the shock of the horrible event.

    His artwork is so expensive because of it being like a brand, in a way. Just like with clothes, furniture, or electronics, usually if something is very recognizable and popular it tends to allure people to buy it, i guess.

  18. On a purely intellectual level, I like the idea of the Blue Dog. How it becomes its own recurring character is an interesting tactic for an artist. The dog clearly sticks out, but in such an absurdly understated fashion that it works. From another perspective, however, I do wonder if commercializing an iconic image is always a good idea, or if it ultimately takes away from the original’s integrity.

    The 9/11 painting is a good example of how having an iconic image can be used for powerful statements. In it, the classic blue dog is white, and it’s eyes red instead of the usual yellow, indicating its heavy heart. By switching up the usual Blue Dog with it’s terrifying counter part, Rodrigue is able to produce an unexpectedly touching piece that captures what many people felt after the disaster of 9/11.

  19. 1) Personally I really like the bold colors Rodrigue chooses to include in his paintings, the rich texture, and the subject matter because I think they’re all very evocative of the excitement of New Orleans. While I do like the repeated use of one subject (Blue Dog), after a while I found it to be a little bit dull. It almost reminded me of graffiti artists who paint/spray the same stencil of an image all over town. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I just don’t particularly see any symbolism embedded in the idea of the blue dog.
    2) I found the 9/11 painting including Blue Dog to be one of Rodrigue’s more symbolic ones. I agree with many on here in that the white face represents terror and shock. This differs from all the other Blue Dog paintings, because it lacks the vibrant nature of Rodrigue; however, I think Rodrigue is trying to express his feelings that none of us who lived through 9/11 will ever be quite the same again.
    3) I’m almost not surprised that something bashed by critics would sell for so much. It’s almost like people want to buy what isn’t “in” at the moment, just because. However, I think it’s more demand rather than reviews that determine an artist’s success. One person could have amazing technique and all the critics love them, but if no one wants their paintings, then what’s the use?

  20. 1. I’m not sure whether I like the Blue Dog paintings. On one hand, the use of color can be seen as gaudy and tasteless. On the other hand, the dogs had an almost eerie feeling to them, as though they were staring at you through their yellow eyes. However, his images of hurricanes and his paintings of farmers were much more enjoyable to me with their use of muted colors and multiple textures. I’m torn. While I wouldn’t buy one of the Blue Dog paintings, I do see the value in them and I can see why they became popular.

    2. The 9/11 painting was a sudden break from the consistent colors. It shows American Pride alongside a shell shocked, pale dog staring at you from the canvas. This was my favorite of all of the Blue Dog paintings as it shows that even the supposed all powerful “American Pride” could not prevent a tragedy.

    3. Often times, critics dislike things because they’re popular or make a greater effort to pick apart popular things simply to show how “sub-culture” they are. While some of the critics may have legitimate complaints, it is more than likely that they paid closer attention to the paintings’ flaws simply because of their high value and their large amount of buyers and collectors.

  21. 1. I pretty like the whole view of the blue dog. In my opinion, I think what makes the blue dog special is his eyes and his eyebrow. The color of the blue dog’s eye are always yellow, and there are always two black lines below and above his eyes, which causes his shocker. Besides, Rordrigue notices that a fit surrounding can point out the feeling of the blue dog that he wants to show, such as cuteness, fear and so on.

    2. The 9-11 dog is really scary for me… His whole body is not blue anymore, instead is white; also, his eyes become red, which increases the fear. Besides, the background is the flag of America, which represents his worries…

    3. Rordrigue doesn’t care the price of his printings. The money cannot stop his passion to his art, which gains my admire more.

  22. The Dog is very cute. I like it a lot. It doesn’t seem super three dimensional though. It’s not incredibly meaningful. I do like that it’s a recurring thing. I think it would be much less interesting if it was only in one painting. I also think it’s fun that it keeps turning up in different places. It kind of reminds me of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

    I think using it as political commentary could be pretty powerful but the 9-11 dog was really creepy. It didn’t look sad or worried or scared to me, it looked like a demon. Like some sort of ghost or zombie dog. I think I’ve had nightmares about beloved cartoon characters becoming evil. Their eyes turn red and they stare at me like that dog. I find it genuinely frightening and not at all reminiscent of the state of the country after 9-11. I know I’m pretty much alone in that thought and the sentiment was good, I’m sure, but I just can’t look at it.

    I can understand why critics wouldn’t like his work. It’s not very detailed or realistic or whatever they’re looking for. It’s kind of cartoonish. I also think he is kind of milking it a little bit but the dog is so cute that I don’t really care.

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