The Dog Days of August.

I don’t know if the situation on Long Island is still news to anyone who doesn’t live on Long Island, but we are still cleaning up from last week’s tropical storm Isaias. The last 4,000 homes without power were restored yesterday, and all the trees that fell into roadways and onto houses are cleared, but all this means that there are enormous piles of firewood stacked up at every curb, and even bigger tree trunks decorating front yards:

I’ve seen utility workers from Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and New Brunswick Canada working in our area. They are so cute: they travel in convoys of 4-5 huge trucks, like flocks of duckies, following the leader because god forbid they lose their way in the wilds on the Isle of Long. And by the way, what with the 24-hour generators, the power line crews that start at 7am, the landscapers with their chain saws who start cutting at 8am…the noise level around here has been deafening.

But I want to thank everyone of these guys for coming to our aid. And one day, I hope to have internet access for more than 30 minutes at a time.

So while the ol’ computer is juiced up, let’s take a look at our Project For The Week:

This handsome fella is a long-haired dachshund named Pippen. Pippin, along with our Dear Reader Alexandra, hosted The Stromness Rock in the great state of Washington and for that, we are going to immortalize him in watercolor.

The first thing I do is I study the photo reference. I look for where I will be leaving the blank whiteness of the paper to show, where I will need to bleed, and figure out what layers of colors will go on top of each other from light to dark. I can’t stress how important it is to have a plan before you start to paint.

Then I make a few light pencil lines on my favorite 90-lb. Carson paper:

I start with the eyes because in the past, I’ve gotten a portrait almost completed when I went in for the windows of the soul and loused it up so that I had to throw away hours of work. So, lesson learned; start with the eyes.

I tested a blend of yellows and browns and burnt umber (up there in the corner)before I had a correct shade:

So I got the eye pointing in the right direction…whew.

This handsome fella has a complicated coat of many colors, so I’m going to start with the lightest colors first:

I love my 90-lb. Carson paper because I’ve been using it for over 15 years and I know what this paper will do. So here, I’m going to let the paper and some very watery paint do a light bleed:

I have to work fast because I want to work “wet’ here, and then I want to let it dry for a few seconds so I can drop in some very deep black without letting it run:


I was telling Top Cat about Pippin, here, and I mentioned that Pippen has a brother, another handsome long-haired dachshund named…named…and I couldn’t remember.

“But I know it has something to do with Douglas MacArthur.” I said.

Top Cat started guessing, “Doug? Dougie? Mac?”

I suddenly remembered.

Truman!” I shouted, feeling very pleased with myself for filing his name (the dog’s) in a place (under “American General, Korean War, fired by”) where I could access it.

Pippen has very expressive eyebrows, so here (below) I am adding some black to re-shape his eye socket into more of a raised-eyebrow kind of “look”:

I also widened the pupil. See what I mean? It’s subtle, but necessary:

I am adding light gray here, because even though it’s a shadow (of sorts), it’s not a dark shadow:

Ears next. Ears, oh ears…they are hard. These ears are long and silky and quite glamorous.

Let’s try to mix the colors with less water this time:

And now I can go to town with the excellent black paint I have (Winsor Newton):

Lay in an undercoat of gray:

And let’s compare:

These are the smooches next in line for portraiture: Kitty, Gypsy, Dudley, and Sophie.

Each of them has their own challenges — I mean, Sophie is mostly shades of black and dark gray and how in the world am I supposed to do that — so it should be interesting. For me, any way. I hope you’ll enjoy watching the paint dry.

In the meantime, various Trumps and all the Republicans have been working hard this past week to make sure life in America really, really sucks, so let’s review:


And others were also outraged:



And then Joe Biden announced his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris:

In case you forgot who Eric Trump is:



















Stay sane until next Friday, Dear Readers.

In the meantime…

Fuck Trump.




11 Comments, RSS

  1. Your watercolor tutorials always fascinated me. Then you just offered sardonic and otherwise black Trump humor, and I loved that too. Today: double the fun! Old Russian option: somavich.

    be well… mae at

  2. Hoorah! You captured Pippin’s sweet personality and his prettiness so perfectly — THANK YOU!! He does indeed have very expressive eyebrows — definitely a challenge, but I had no doubt whatsoever that you would rise to it, and you did.

    His brother Hairy Truman (because he was my first longhaired dachshund, after many shorthaired ones, which required a special name) was actually named after Sheriff Harry Truman from the cult TV show “Twin Peaks.” However, I allow people to assume it’s after President Truman because I don’t want to have to explain my interest in cult TV shows to everyone and their dog. Your way of remembering his name cracked me up.

  3. Beautiful work on Pippin’s portrait! It’s great to see your painting again. I’ve missed all your discussions of your technique. (Not that I’m likely to try it myself, because it wouldn’t work out that well, I’m sure!)

    It’s so funny that you filed “Truman” under “Douglas MacArthur” and not under “presidents” or “famous writers who alienated everyone they ever knew.”

  4. Casey

    It’s so good to see you paint again! Pippin is a very handsome doggo and your portrait is BEAUTIFUL! It feels like the good old days, of watching paint dry instead of watching our republic go down the shitter.

    Good Trump stuff today. This will get me through the weekend.

    And Ted Cruz is such a prick.

  5. I love it when you paint! And you nailed dear Pippin — I love that name! I don’t envy you the black dog! (Sophie?) That’ll be a fun and tricky one, too!

    Looking forward to seeing you paint again. Those are my favorite posts.

    So glad you were safe from the storm. Here in the midwest it’s pretty insular. In fact, Rick calls Michigan “peninsulated.” To come to Michigan you have to venture north to a peninsula or two — and most people just get on 90 and go east or west, not north! It affects the attitudes, too….

  6. Kirra

    That pizza is horrific!! It’s nice to hear people are helping you from all over with the storm clean up. Real human stories are important when there’s lots of shitty things going on. It’s just hard to process anything Trump actually says because he never makes sense. And what an asshole is Cruz. Your painting of Pippin in great, I love the eye. Look forwarding to seeing more cute pet paintings!

  7. Rachel Scott

    Vivian, good Saturday morning. I spent the last few minutes reading your blog and sharing with my husband all the items about Trump and Cruz(“my” senator…..I hope those who voted him in realize what a mistake that was….but probably they don’t get it). You should hear my husband and my laughter, and sighs of dismay. Thank you for entertaining us. The only good thing to happen this week is listening to Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. For the first time in months/years, I feel like I can breath and am so hopeful for their win in November.
    What a cutie Pippin is…and your painting is wonderful. I do see you reason for doing the eyes first….they can make a painting. And, there are our two puppies, Gypsy(in her blue….don’t lick your incision….collar) and Dudley looking “regal.” Ha! Thank you so much for taking on this project. I am excited to see your painting of our two “children.” Rachel

  8. Diana

    I just now found your blog because I got your book as a birthday present and I had to find out more of who you are.

    Pippen is gorgeous, and I love it that you let us watch you as you paint. I admit that its weird to watch a left-hander, but obviously, your touch is expert.

    And, oh yeah…I’m not American but I also hate Trump. As I’m sure, the rest of the world does too.

  9. Glad the hurricane is past.
    Loved your painting lesson. Sweet puppy!
    What made me chuckle the most is the thought of all those used motorcycles for sale. Yes, of course!
    And so much craziness out there every day. He doesn’t let a day go by without something that just astounds us. What a stupid, criminal family.

  10. It would be a honor to be a “Nasty Woman”. I would be keeping good company.
    IQ of Trump and Obama combined just made me smile.
    Thanks for finding such laughing cartoons in a time when it is hard to laugh.

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