Art 1 – Blue Dog – Due 3/24


Look at the following video on George Rodrigue:

and the website:

Pay particular attention to the bio and art categories on the menu bar at his website.

NY times obituary

Pay particular attention to the way his life and art are valued in the obituary.

Make comments about:

1. What are the pros and cons for you of  the visual presence of his works (what you like and don’t like visually)?

2. Do the interpretations of his paintings make sense to you?  why or why not? (consider both subject and style)

3. Explain/explore the conflicting aspects of the art’s high market value,  the negative reviews by art critics, and the final assessment of his work in the NY Times obituary.

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, using a color scheme.


32 responses »

  1. I like that blue dog has a very distinct look and personality that doesn’t change. I like the vivid colors he uses as well. The landscapes made it kind of boring an i like that he switched over to a portrait style. His interpretations do make sense although current events have to be tied into the subject of the painting and that can make it harder to understand if you do not know what those events are. I think its great that he didn’t care what critics thought and that he paints what he wants to and he is confident that it will sell. I don’t think the paintings should be that expensive but they do sell for large sums of money.

  2. I like how, despite the Blue Dog being an icon, he paints it differently every time, and it always stands out in a more realistic scene. I also like the way he uses paint as texture. I don’t really like the more simplistic paintings as much. The interpretation of the painting with the colorless Blue Dog makes sense to me, because it showed that there is nothing left. The style doesn’t exactly make sense to me, because he painted it with the same style as the others. I find it strange how a simple painting of a blue dog made his work so popular. Maybe there is something about the Blue Dog that just connected to people who viewed the paintings.

  3. I like how he paints the blue dog, in a similar way in each of his paintings but puts each dog into a different context. I also like the vibrant colors he used, and that the blue dog always looked alert. I don’t really like his landscape paintings, because the all look very similar. The interpretations do make sense to me, especially the one about 9/11. I think his paintings were so expensive, because he was a well known artist, and that maybe critics didn’t appreciate them because they were loud, and simple in a way. I thought it was neat that he didn’t really care what the critics thought about his work.

  4. One thing that I like about his paintings are how varied they are despite having the same subject. I think it’s really interesting how much diversity Rodrigue could create with the same subject. I wouldn’t have guessed or said that the blue dog represents mankind’s search for answers, but if that’s what the artist says, it’s his call to make. I think that there are always critics and artists that disagree, but I think that everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and that if collectors want to pay high prices for paintings, it’s their decision. I agree with the NYT in that the variety in his paintings really do give a cross section of the country.

  5. I like the mysterious character of the dog. He/She/It can be seen as empty eyed, questioning, scared, timid, or anything else, depending on the mood of the viewer. This yellow-eyed creation can be seen everyday in your living room and be your unmoving, yet moved companion. He/she/it can appear concerned if you are having a bad day or pensive if you are thoughtful. I like that this creature can be so many different things without changing position. I like Rodrigue’s paintings where the dog is depicted in a more pop art style with definite shapes and less realistic. The interpretations seem to make sense. His way of opening a doorway into the past with the blue dog as the tour guide is interesting and I think that if art critics delved a bit deeper into Rodrigue’s intent while making the paintings and stepped back and looked at his work with an open mind, they would be more appreciative and complimentary. I for one, on first seeing some of his art, thought it childish and kind of an easy way to popularity, but after watching the video and reading his obituary I realized there was a lot more to his work.

    • I like your take on being open minded. That shows how you were able to get more out of his work by being open to the ideas in the video and the obituary. He’s not my favorite artist but his work is certainly expressive and communicates to his audience.

  6. To me, the blue dog is a really creative art subject. The idea of having a constant in all of your paintings is really cool. I really like how his paintings together almost tell a story of where the blue dog has been. I agree with the other people that commented before me that the landscapes are rather bland. I think that the ideas behind the paintings are really cool because they are subtle enough to not be noticed so you can just enjoy the artwork, or if you want to you can look into the hidden meaning. I think that as an artist, it is your job to convey YOUR feelings and YOUR ideas. I think that it is really amazing how Rodrigue stood up for what he loved to do. It is not important what others say about you or your art. If they like it, they can buy it. If they don’t they can go find something else to buy.

  7. I like that Rodrigue picked a specific theme for his paintings and put it everywhere. The Blue Dog is consistent and recognizable. However, the eyes… They’re so piercing. It makes me uncomfortable, like the Dog is demanding something I can’t give him. It is extremely effective at eliciting a response from the viewer, I just don’t like the reaction it’s getting from me. His interpretations make perfect sense, as he’s the only one who knows what the Dog is there for. It really is a guide through all these different locations. They sold for so much because this was something Rodrigue enjoyed painting. When you look at a work an artist put his heart and soul into, you can see that and make a sort of connection with the artist. Consumers felt this connection, and needed to own his art to keep that feeling. Critics, however, ignore the connection, and instead judge only the paint and color and the painting itself, ignoring the painting’s soul. The obituary did him justice by acknowledging that.

  8. I like that Rodrigue can create different paintings with very similar themes and motifs. I dislike his overall creativeness, he is pretty darn repetitive. I like his interpretation of the blue dog, but to me, it only represents a blue dog with different costumes and surroundings. He didn’t care that critics disliked his work, and took joy in painting something he believed in. His belief in his art is what truly made him successful, and would lead to him making as much money as he did. He saw that drawing traditionally didn’t lead to fame and fortune, and he took his own road. This could have lead to the negative reviews.

  9. 1. He takes a lot of liberties with the settings and things that he paints, so it definitely isn’t realistic, but he successfully uses his almost cartoonish style to better convey a mood for the painting as a whole, which I like. However, it’s easy to see why critics have taken issue with his work because of this.
    2. It’s hard to interpret his paintings, but I know the loup-garou (werewolf) has some mythological stuff behind it, so it makes sense that that is one way that people interpret his paintings. Also the original model was a picture of his dog, and now that the dog is dead it could be a ghost that lives on through the paintings or something.
    3. Rodrigue’s work definitely isn’t the most technically flamboyant, so his unconventionality could’ve both led to the negative reviews and high prices. It’s kind of like modern popular music; it doesn’t take the most skill, but rakes in WAY more cash than classical or jazz music which requires infinitely more skill to play. Also, the NY times probably didn’t comment on the negative reviews because they wanted to be respectful of his death, focusing on the positive reception of his work.

  10. I like the Blue Dog’s looks in general, though I think he could have branched out a bit more. I thought some his interpretations made sense, though I didn’t understand some of them. I think his desire to do what he wanted instead of what would sell and his unconventional style would probably lead to bad reviews. The NY Times article was very respectful about his death.

  11. I like the different values colors for the blue dog and how he paints the different landscapes. One thing I don’t like thought is that his landscapes look similar with the trees and the forest looking background. Yes they do make sense to me. I like how he uses the blue dog and puts a new orleans twist to it for the fundraiser from the hurricane Katrina. I think that his paintings have a lot more to them than is lead on and that when critics look his paintings they don’t see the real meaning, they just see whats on the outside.

  12. I like the cool color combinations that Rodrigue uses in his older Cajun style paintings. I don’t really like some of the more clashing colors and boring backgrounds of the blue dog paintings. I don’t really understand the interpretation of his paintings because, while the dog is cute, I don’t really feel it to be entrancing or have a higher meaning. I agree that the eyes are the most interesting part of the dog. I don’t know why the paintings had such a high value, because I like the Cajun ones much more.

  13. 1) I appreciate how the blue dog is constant but changes at the same time. He keeps one solid piece, the blue dog, throughout all his works and puts the dog in various locations and the number of blue dogs also depends on the painting. I like the nice calm yet exciting blue that the dog is painted with. One thing I didn’t like which also involved color were those yellow eyes. They scared me a little. But they do catch your attention so that’s good for the paintings.

    2) I guess the interpretations of the paintings make sense to me. Some like the New Orleans one with the swamps and the hometown and that beginning hist first painting it. I like how he uses such contrasting colors (complementary and analogous). He also changes the dogs appearance sightly sometimes to go with the place or theme he is trying to convey.

    3) I like how he doesn’t listen to what people tell him to paint. He just paints what he wants to plain and simple (simple like his dog). His work I think could go both ways (in prices and evaluating it)depending on how is critiquing it. But he focuses beyond the look of the painting and goes into what is put into it.

  14. I really like the fact that the dog has an expression that can be interpreted different ways. This quality of the dog makes it so that when you look at the face it is a reflection of your own mood. I also like that the dog is blue…I know that seems sort of superficial, but I think that making the dog blue (at least the first time) was a genius and unique idea. I also like that the dog is totally constant even in separate environments. I think the interpretations of the paintings are certainly a little out there (that the dog represents human kind’s search for answers, etc.), but I think that the artist is ultimately the best one to interpret the paintings, so I take his interpretation seriously. However, I also think that critical acclaim is important, because if other people can’t derive meaning from a piece of artistic work the art isn’t really doing its job. I think the fact that he doesn’t care what people think, though, is really cool.

  15. I find the simplicity of his paintings very appealing. The lack of detail and focus on color emphasize the subjects themselves rather than the quality of the painting itself. I understand the interpretations of his art and agree with some of them although I feel as people will always see what they expect or want to see in something. I personally feel like the dog is representative of the human being and is being used to create metaphors with its relationships with its environment. I find the fact that his art was worth so much and critics rated it so lowly to be amusing. I think that critics should take into account the importance of the subject and thought behind the art more than the skill that went into creating it when evaluating a piece. I think that most people do this more than critics which I believe can explain the disproportion in popularity and rating.I also think that the controversial popularity of his art also probably fed itself.

  16. I like that the dog is drawn in slightly different ways in each of his paintings. The effect the dog has on each piece varies and makes them not repetitive at all. I also think it’s interesting that he used the blue dog to comment on what was going on at that time.

    It’s good that he was painting for himself more than for others and because of that he didn’t mind when critics didn’t like his work. The fact that the general public appreciated the art is more important, in my opinion.

  17. I like the intensity of his painting and the pop the blue dog makes against the often less intense back ground. I think the contrasting colors especially in the desert scene, the soft yellows contrasting with the bright electrifying blue of the dog made the dog even more vibrant. Something I didn’t like was the lack of creativity honestly it was the same dog he saw what worked and then did the same thing 7 different ways. His interpretation that the dog is a vehicle in comprehending life. I think that I guess this makes sense and I say this with some hesitation because you can literally say that about anything it seems just not very personal to his art work. My honest opinion was that he was a sell out rather than reach for high acclaim he found something that was profitable and repeated it over and over again which I think isn’t that impressive.

  18. 1. I like all the color he uses. I noticed that in his later paintings, the background would be a warm color (s) and the Blue Dog would stand out, it being the cool color. I also like how the Blue Dog isn’t always blue.

    2. It makes some sense, though in my opinion, I think, while the Blue Dog is a symbol, it is a bit over used. I think he should paint a scene but just add Blue Dog in in random places.

    3. He used Blue Dog so many times, it seems like he was just repeating something over and over again solely because it was profitable. Although, I like his attitude towards critics, that he’ll paint what he wants and nothing more.

  19. I love the different contexts he places the dog in so that something different is said in each piece of art. i also love the texture of the paint and the various shades he uses. They are very visually pleasing. The idea that the dog represents humankind search for answers seemed a little out there. I just like they way the paintings look to be honest and don’t care for most of the undertone. I think the influence of a critic on art (at least for mainstream art) is crazy. I People will like it and people wont. I think its weird that just a few of the options are heard publicly because that influences others. For instance, The critics (just a hand full of people) may not have liked his art but the general population may have liked his art causing a greater demand.

  20. I really like the bright colors Rodrigue uses. It’s kind of humorous how he takes the same dog and pastes it in front of various backgrounds; I think it’s really silly. And I like how he changes the different shades of blue. I think they’re visually appealing, but I think some of the interpretations are rubbish. I believe that someone can appreciate a piece of art without searching for some really deep meaning from it, and I think that especially applies to his works. The subject matter seems playful to me. I think that if people want to pay that much for a painting, then that’s great. The paintings stand out (I remember seeing a bunch in an art gallery in Carmel). It seems like in general, people really like his paintings, even if critics aren’t very excited about them, and that’s fine.

  21. 1. I like the contrasting colors and situations the blue dog is placed in. He always pops right out at you, and his somewhat frightened look always gives the dog away. It’s as if he’s scared of the change in location… Also I kind of like the lack of color detail in his paintings. They make the colors of the dog and the background contrast a lot more. Everything else looks so harmonized and serene and yet the blue dog just obviously doesn’t fit in.

    2. I think the blue dog represents human kind in that we also appear frightened or don’t quite know what to think when we’re in a place or situation foreign to us. We don’t always quite know how to react and we end up standing out like a sore thumb… Or a blue dog.

    3. The art might have been very popular to have reached a higher demand thus a higher value. Although critics might agree that a lack in changing subject should decrease the worth of the piece itself, many critics are only used to older genres or styles and have an idea of how something should be painted/look in their mind. The sometimes have a hard time accepting new styles like Rodrige’s for whatever they may mean.

  22. Unlike some of the the other comments, I actually don’t like how bright the colors are. The colors are mostly just vibrant primary colors which makes the paintings look really juvenile– like illustrations in a children’s book. However, I do like the overall concept of taking a basic image (like a dog) and putting it in different situations. I honestly don’t understand the deeper meaning of the paintings. To me, it seems to just be a repetition of an iconic image.I really admire that he does his art for himself and not based on what’ll be best-received by the audiences. Artists shouldn’t feel constrained in any way, in my opinion, they should be able to create whatever they want.

  23. 1. I think it is very interesting how he replicates the same dog in different environments in each of his paintings. The ability to recreate it with such precision is impressive, but seems to not very original. His work seems like a recreation of the same painting over and over with different backgrounds themes. I think the reason I dislike it the most is because the almost comical repetition doesn’t allow for much emotional connection to any of the pieces.
    2. I think that some of the interpretations seem confusing and i don’t quite get it at first glance, but after it is explained, the interpretation can be extracted.
    3. I think that people may have raised to value of the paintings so much because it is unique, and recognizable. When someone walks into a house, recognizable artwork will always catch their eye, whereas if it is some abstract van Gogh that nobody can recognize it will be left unnoticed. While the buyers may like this, it means nothing to critics.

    • I often wonder if he used any shortcuts to making the reapeated dogs in various situations. Did he ever transfer or trace or was he just a natural in replicating it like Charles Schultz and Snoopy?

  24. I really like the way he places the familiar face of the dog into various scenarios and it gives the dog a completely different meaning. I don’t like how yellow the eyes are because it feels very dissonant and distracts from the point of the works. I don’t think that there is that much interpretation to be had in a painting of a dog; it’s just a painting of a dog and i think that that in itself is enough. I don’t understand at all why some pieces of art are worth millions while others that are equally good or bad are worth nothing. I think that it’s great that he has decided to ignore what the critics say and just paint what he likes.

  25. I think the way he draw the dog is interesting, the realistic drawing of background, and always set the dog in a special way to match up with the background. And this combination make the drawing abstract. I actually don’t like this style of drawing, but I like the explaination, which shows he has a high self-esteem, he doesn’t really care about critics. This is a important identity an artist good to have. And because of it’s art, maybe not all of people like it, but still have some people will enjoy the way he painting. And what he did a nice job is that he keep working on his own style.

  26. 1. The bright colors of his paintings kind of freak me out–especially the yellow eyes. However, I do like the way the dog is drawn–kind of comically. Very obviously a dog. Captures the essence of “dog.”

    2. I didn’t really understand the meaning of his paintings until I read “lowstrungspranos” response. That totally makes sense! Also, I’d add that I think humans are often “out of place” in the wild because we’ve developed so much technology and civilization.

    3. I think if enough people like an artist’s work, then the fact that some people don’t like it doesn’t matter. Clearly the dog is well-loved, so who cares about the critics?

  27. I like the painting which look like a dog and one look like flowers. His paintings don’t make many sense to me and i don’t like his Africa style very much.The high market value of the art, i think it is base on the style and historical thing,there is not many people draw this kind of draw any more.

  28. The way the dog is portrayed in the different paintings is intriguing to me, if a bit bland. It’s obviously a series of paintings that could be saying different things, but to me when it comes down to it, it’s just a bunch of dog pictures. I think there are a lot of interesting interpretations of the dog pictures and maybe there is an underlying meaning, but for me, there’s just not a lot. I think the market value of these paintings, like a lot of art, is inflated and not deserved. I think the criticism is not unwarranted and makes sense, but if he like to paint them and he gets money off em, good for him!

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