What does it take to turn a sought-after painter of the sailing scene into a dedicated dog artist? One special canine, of course. In the case of Jim DeWitt of Point Richmond, that dog would be Amber, a wriggly, red-tinted Cockapoo that came aboard just ten months ago at the urging of his wife, Sallie.
Up to that point, the primary theme of de Witt’s life and art was the sailboat. Now his muse is covered in fur, not fiberglass, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
De Witt used to consider his life too full for dogs. Over the past few decades he has run a busy sail-making business (eventually sold), won many a sailing race, raised a family, and passionately practiced his painting. Now he can’t imagine life without Amber. She’s his best buddy and almost constant companion.
We asked de Witt what makes dogs so fun to paint. His answer: They have such distinct personalities and so much variation in color, size, and shape. When he’s not working on a portrait for a particular client, he says, “I just go find a dog to paint.” He is currently at work on a coffee table book: his favorite canine works accompanied by pithy dog-related quotations.
De Witt calls his painting style “colorful impressionism” and the walls of his studio – aptly dubbed “The Dog House” – are lined with vibrant depictions of sailing craft and canines. You and your dog can visit him there, at 123 Park Place, by calling ahead: 510-853-1626. His daughter’s gallery and framing shop next door sells originals and prints of his paintings, as well as various gift items.
For a larger sampling of Dewitt’s dog and sailing art, visit www.jimdewitt.com.