As one might guess, Sam Dolman’s winning entry originated as a commissioned pet portrait of a genial beagle named Maggie. As a reference for the painting, the artist used a photograph of the canine posing contentedly in her owner’s car. Sunlight, an essential ingredient in all of the artist’s work, beamed through the windows upon her. “Maggie didn’t seem comfortable in many of the shots taken outside,” says Dolman. “It was only when her owner put her in the car—somewhere comfortable and familiar—that we thought it looked like a pleasing photo. The owner was happy with her expression, and I was happy with the lighting.”
Animals have been in his heart from the very beginning, says Dolman. The English native inherited his love for art from his mother, who provided him with drawing and painting materials when he was a boy. “We lived on a small holding and had lots of chickens, ducks, and geese running around,” he says. “Mum would show me how to sketch a moving subject—never an
Today the primarily self-taught artist portrays all sorts of domestic animals and wildlife on his canvases, but he has a particular soft spot for cows, from Holsteins to Belgian Blues. Dolman regularly visits a herd of Highland cattle that roam freely near his home in Chesterfield, and he often spends whole days photographing and befriending them. The artist’s lifelike animal portraits require weeks of painstaking painting in his studio, and thus he prizes the time he spends with the Scottish bovines. “I like to give them a tickle,” he says. “Because I paint for so long, I need that connection.” Find Dolman’s work at Cloud Gallery, UK.
This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
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