The previous version of this picture wasn't working for me. So I zapped the ArtRage layers into Photoshop CS2.
I flipped the man and dog horizontally, even though I was fairly convinced in the earlier scamp that the composition was more powerful the other way round.
In the old version, the dog looking down on the man from top-left was a very powerful crushing force on him, squashing him into a tiny future.
Now, the dog is being lifted, as if it's some kind of angelic entity, hovering over his shoulder. Which is somewhat more oppressive.
In the real-life story of this man and this dog, the dog was actually the love of his life. And he allowed it to escape onto a main road. Where, according to him, it was hit by a car. The dog died a long, slow, gurgling death.
There is enough evidence, based on the extent of his sobbing, and some evasiveness on his part, to suggest that he actually drove over the dog himself. I can't go into details, but my suspicion is that it's more than likely that he killed his favourite dog.
This is an indictment against him regardless of WHO killed the dog. Cos in the final analysis, his actions and negligence caused the death. Either he let it out of the front gate, something he'd been instructed not to do by his wife, the one he used to beat. Or he drove over it. Both scenarios look pretty torrid to me. I'd HATE to be in his shoes right now.
Back to the redrafting process...
In Photoshop, I rearranged the lettering, leaving space for the extra stuff I intended to put in.
Then I popped it back into ArtRage, where I did all the rest.
I'm preferring the definition on their faces. And the flow of the speech bubbles. I'm liking the scared but defiant sarcasm of the dog, and the way it informs the title of the piece... 'Dogkiller Wifebeater'.
We KNOW that the guy is a wifebeater. The title tells us so. And the inappropriateness of the 'joke' tells us so. And because of this knowledge, we look at the dog and say to ourselves, 'Is THIS dog the victim of the "Dogkiller" in the title? If so, the man must be the perpetrator.'
We know also that the dog giving the man lip MUST have consequences. If he's a wifebeater, there's a good chance that his 'out-of-control' abuse extends out to other areas of his life. Such as his work. His relationship with his brothers and sisters and mother and father. His relationship with his pets.
What I know, and what the viewer of the pic wouldn't know, unless I tell them, is that this man has allowed at least one of his dogs in the past to be killed due to his laxity. And one of them was thrown head first into a door by him.
I also know about his fondness for road rage. His fondness for screaming at waiters. His propensity for verbally abusing people in shopping centres.
Most of all, I know what he did to his wife. And what he's threatened to do to her and her family with his gun if she left him.
Well... she left him.
He promised to go out in a blaze of glory. But I've heard his ranting and sobbing on the phone.
And all I see is a broken man. With plastic bags. Tied to his feet. Held there with perished elastic bands. Him standing in a filthy shower. Trying desperately to get himself clean. While other men glower at him. Threaten him. Want him.
I know what happens in prison, cos my best friend, Ed, has been there and done that. I know that ultra-violence and pain are the only way out of there. Ed survived because he's the meanest motherfucker on the block.
From what I know about THIS man, he's not going to enjoy the anal sex very much at all. Nor the lice. Nor the dirty towels with no safety pins or labels. Nor the dirty plates.
He's also not going to enjoy the fact that he doesn't have his precious gun with him in his cell. And nor does he have full use of his arm, thanks to some rank idiocy involving rock-throwing and fridge-smashing and wife-punching. Good work, mister. You crippled yourself to ensure that you CAN'T survive in jail.
Interesting how things catch up with a person, hmmm?
So it's a subtle piece of imagery. It informs the viewer of a whole story, without any need for explanation.
I've fleshed it out for you, so that you can understand why it's such a dark image.
And I've fleshed it out for him. Cos I know how stupid he gets when rage hits. And I'm waiting. With a big broad grin on my face.
In this version, I've also finessed the dog's eyes, and the man's eyes. The man looks slightly pitiful, but brutal. The dog looks down on him and at him. The dog knows what's happening. And knows what's coming.
I've come to the conclusion, in writing this, that I like this composition much more than the previous version. Here, this pitiful man is being crammed down into the bottom-left by a representation of his missing conscience. By the dog he killed. As a consequence of his inadequacy. His inadequacy as a man.
Bottom-left, in the Western reading schema, represents the past. Top-right represents the future. So the dog is soaring into a better existence. While the man is being shoved down. Into confronting the horrors of his own making.
This painting was initially made in ArtRage 2.2, then exported to Photoshop CS2, then finished in ArtRage 2.2 again. It was all done entirely on my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet pc. With the man's wife snuggling up to me against the cold. Smiling.