Saturday, 20 February 2016

Bull's-Eye - Oliver Twist (Dogs of Literature, No 4)

Oil painting of Bill Sykes' dog Bull's-Eye, Oliver Twist
A rather more sombre dog from literature today - the last of my little mini-series, at least for now. Bull's-Eye belonged to Bill Sykes, the out and out baddie in Oliver Twist. He is usually perceived as a symbol or emblem of Sykes' character being the outward manifestation of his inner, snarling viciousness.
Should the dog belong to someone of a different temperament, I think that now as then dogs such as Bull's-Eye would behave very differently. I was puzzled how to portray this dog - he is always growling and snarling in the book and I am frightened of fierce dogs. He was, however, often savagely beaten by Sykes. What has emerged I think is the face of a dog we sometimes see posted today by Rescue Centres, seeking a new home.
Bull's-Eye might have been an imaginary dog, but now he seems real to me.
Painted on paper from the novel mounted to board and prepped with two coats of clear gesso and a thin wash of raw sienna to give the appearance of ageing to the paper.