Development of Odalisque, Part I



Here’s a preview of fabric I had printed for the work in progress. It’s clipped to the doors of my storage cabinet, with random chunks of batting and Stewie from Family Guy lurking above. It’s a very elegant workspace.

I haven’t decided what to call it … Odalisque, Odalisque with Squeak Toy, Dogalisque. Maybe the title will become clearer as I sew and get my hands dirty.

More than a year ago, I had the idea of making a portrait of my dog in the style of classic Odalisque paintings. You probably know the ones – there’s a naked dame casually lounging around on a swanky couch with loads of velvet drapes. Here’s an example by Ingres (which Wikipedia Commons assures me is in the public domain).


To my mind, the great flaw with all of these paintings is that they’re of women rather than dogs.

I stalked my dog for weeks, taking photos whenever he lounged.


Hmm. No.


Dear lord. No.


Huh. Getting there.

You get the idea. Lots of shots taken, most of them awful. Many shots later …


Not bad. Now, the judge who had the nasty comment about Suspicion a few years ago, the one who had maybe never gone to a zoo to see what sleeping flamingos actually look like, probably wouldn’t like this pose. It is admittedly an usual pose. It’s voluptuous, though, what with Ryan coyly covering his “manhood” (doghood?) and making eye contact with us. Yeah. That’s the money shot. That’s the core of the Odalisque.

The only problem was, the background and surroundings were lousy. I keep a sheet thrown over the couch for sanitary reasons, because the dog likes to lick his rump (yuck) and the boy scatters dry Cheerios everywhere. The sheet makes for fast cleanup: yank it off, throw it in the washer, and filth is history. However, it’s also ugly. Not exactly classical Odalisque surroundings. What to do?

The obvious answer was to use Photoshop to composite the hound on to a different background, maybe something with a velvet chaise or a lush Empire couch. However, I don’t happen to have any of those things on hand – ours is, as previously noted, more of a “sheet thrown over the couch” sort of household.

I explored using stock photography. That led nowhere, partly because of cost and partly because the lighting wouldn’t match. Nothing screams “fake” quite like inconsistency in shadows and highlights.

No, I was just going to have to go a build a set somehow, then composite the dog in. But how?

Then the answer came to me. This is how, through the power of computery goodness:


(Click to embiggen.)

Thanks to the power of computers, we need not be restricted to what we can draw or photograph ourselves. Thank goodness for that.

More another day …

One Response to “Development of Odalisque, Part I”

  1. Martha Ginn says:

    Oh, you tease, you! I can’t wait to watch your darling dog come to life as a voluptuous Odalisque thread painting!

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