Untitled (Demonstration Painting)

(Demonstration Painting)
2005 by George Rodrigue
Acrylic on canvas
36×48 inches

Location: Carmel

In 1997 George Rodrigue first entertained an audience with a painting demonstration at the Red River Revel in Shreveport, Louisiana. His wife Wendy joined him on stage, sharing Rodrigue’s history, while clarifying his style and approach through anecdotes. “I can’t talk and paint at the same time,” said Rodrigue.

This began a tradition, and the artistic team, with their unscripted onstage banter, found themselves in demand across the United States. They presented similar events at the National Arts Educators Association Convention, the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, the Phoenix Art Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and numerous book fairs and schools.

For these demonstrations, Rodrigue used large brushes and paint straight from the tube, an approach he developed for public painting because, he admitted, “If I had to sit and watch an artist paint for as long as it really takes, I’d get bored.” He wanted his fans to see a complete painting materialize from a blank canvas in under an hour.

Subject matter usually included both the Blue Dog and the Oak Tree, while Wendy used the canvas as a visual aid to explain Rodrigue’s approach to his favorite and most famous shapes. Afterwards, Rodrigue returned the painting to his studio where he reworked it for anywhere from several days to a week. “People thought it looked good on the stage,” he said. “But I was never happy with it and always repainted it afterwards.”

Prior to these public painting demonstrations, Rodrigue’s brushwork typically was tight. However, influenced by his style on stage, he gradually loosened his approach in the studio as well. As a result many paintings since the late 1990s reveal looser, freer strokes. Eventually, Rodrigue admitted that his favorite way to paint is to simply walk up to the canvas without any preconceived ideas.

“I know it will have a Blue Dog, but beyond that, the fun for me comes in just letting it happen. That’s why my favorite painting is always the one I’m working on now.” -G.R.

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