Painter Rosanna Lyons shares portraits of pain, hope and recovery, with a canine twist, in her new project. Dogs that have been rescued following abuse or abandonment, and the loving character of these animals, are her subject.
On Saturday and Sunday, residents can meet Lyons and view her paintings at Hunters Point Shipyard Studios, where she will be participating in the first days of 2014 San Francisco Open Studios, a four-weekend exhibition across The City with more than 900 artists showing their works where they create them.
While many artists are concerned more with the form and physicality than with the interior aspects of animals they depict, Lyons, an Ireland-bred painter based in Brisbane, brings in back stories and personality.
“I try to show their plight and their pain, and their forgiveness,” says Lyons, who finds her subjects from dog-rescue groups and their online sites.
Her style of heightened realism involves vivid colors, loose brushwork and accentuated curves, veins and shades of flesh – or fur.
Oil paintings dominate the exhibit. Some portraits are as large as 3 feet by 4 feet, and all contain a psychological quality.
“The Fridge” is a charcoal-enhanced picture of a same-named pit bull, who was formerly mistreated. Gentle-looking eyes convey the goodness of the misunderstood breed.
Also featured is Jacob, whose ears were hacked off. Rescued by Marley's Mutts in Los Angeles, Jacob now lives happily on a ranch, Lyons says.
Babe, a Neapolitan mastiff, barely survived his ordeal before Marley's Mutts rescued him. Fifteen-year-old Marnie, discovered by Lyons at Beagles and Buddies, is Lyons' own “rescue girl.”
The exhibit also contains an occasional noncanine subject, including the “crying bull of Hong Kong.” As the story, possibly a folk tale, goes, the slaughterhouse-bound bull moved its captors when weeping and was spared and given to monks.
An anatomically observant artist who has painted ballet dancers and nudes, Lyons cites Renaissance masters Michelangelo and Botticelli and 20th- and 21st-century British figurative artists Lucian Freud and Jenny Saville as influences.
She also points to her background in animation, which includes creating hand-drawn effects for the Disney company, DreamWorks and “The Simpsons.”
“I have drawn Homer Simpson's head being blown off, pig swill, and Crusty going through a woodcutting machine,” Lyons says, describing such work as the “most fun job ever.”
But she also wanted to do something more deeply satisfying.
“The reward came through painting.”
IF YOU GO
San Francisco Open Studios Weekend 1
Where: Hunters Point Shipyard, Galvez Avenue and Donahue Street, and Islais Creek Studios, 1 Rankin St., S.F.
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Contact: (415) 861-9838, www.artspan.org
Note: Lyons’ studio is in Building 110, Studio 201, at Hunters Point Shipyard.
Open Studios schedule
Oct. 25-26: Weekend 2 in SOMA, Tenderloin, Downtown, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, Bayview, Portola, Excelsior, Balboa Park
Nov. 1-2: Weekend 3 in the Mission, Castro, Bernal Heights, Noe Valley, Upper Market, Glen Park
Nov. 8-9: Weekend 4 in Fort Mason, Marina, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, North Beach, Hayes Valley, NOPA, Haight, Buena Vista, Richmond, Sunset, West Portal and Oceanview