Skip to main content

Canine inspired: Raychael Stine takes her abstract expressionist art to the next level

.......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... ..........

University of New Mexico Professor Raychael Stine in her studio. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Spend some time gazing at Raychael Stine’s paintings and you might discover a snout, a floppy ear or a pink tongue.

“Most people don’t notice initially, but all of my paintings are dog portraits,” she said. “You have to sit with them for a while.”

The University of New Mexico assistant professor of art has made a career of canines cryptically inserted into seemingly abstract expressionist paintings.


Thick slices of paint move swiftly across her canvases in rich colors. A rose or a shadow might creep in. The dogs emerge in a flurry of movement. They’re clumsy, bashful and ravenous, racing through ribbons of spastic, active paint.

Everybody warned Stine not to paint dogs if she wanted to be taken seriously as an artist.

“I’ve had people get really mad about it,” she said. They’ll say, “It’s so great to see these abstract

Plein air paintings by Raychael Stine. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

paintings dealing with form and color.”

Informed of more than abstraction on her canvas, some viewers try to argue with her.

“Then they say to the effect of, ‘You just ruined it for me’,” she said.

Born near Cleveland, Ohio, Stine grew up in a family with hunting dogs.

“It was dog land,” she said. “I just felt really connected to them. I always say dogs helped me to be an empathic and caring person.”


At home, she lives with two canines: one is “the longest dachshund you’ve ever seen;” the other is a chihuahua. Both are rescue animals.

Her “Ophelia” series was inspired by the famous painting of Hamlet’s spurned and drowned lover by John Everett Millais, ca. 1851.

“It’s basically a garden dog laying in a box in a river,” she said. “They’re not really about the story of Ophelia in the river. I was more interested in the idea that the dogs would be in this space or dream space.”

Literature also inspires her, especially books such as “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” “Black Shuck” and the Greek myths of dogs ushering humans into the gates of heaven.

Stine works with two palettes. She uses the left for acrylic paint; the one on the right is oil. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Stine uses both acrylic and oil paints, juggling them with two palettes. She dips her acrylics from plastic apple holders recycled from Costco. Each paint type serves its own purpose, she explains.

“The acrylic does mushy, sloshy, brushy kind of work. The oil works pretty well to do softly rendered light gradients.”

She lifts color from light, rainbows, water vapor reflections and screen glows.

She loves the paintings of the late abstractionist Howard Hodgkin and contemporary artist Ellen Berkenblit.


“I’ve always loved Goya,” she added, “I like Henri Rousseau. My favorite New Mexico painter is Victor Higgins.” Stine has shown her work in Albuquerque’s Richard Levy Gallery, as well as the Eugene Binder Gallery in Marfa, Texas. The Levy Gallery gave Stine a solo show.

“She is a wizard with paint,” gallery director Viviette Hunt said. Hunt was busy packing Stine’s work for display at the prestigious international Art Basel show in Miami.

“She demonstrates such a broad range of skills as both a realist and an abstractionist,” Hunt said. “I can’t resist that and collectors appreciate it.”

Raychael Stine paints with oils on the wall over an undercoat of acrylic paint. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Not all visitors can decipher the dog motifs within the vibrant slashes of color and form. But the paintings draw interest beyond any kind of “Find Waldo” factor.

“It wasn’t like a game,” Hunt said. “They’re so much about painting that the whole dog thing becomes secondary.

“At first, you look at it and it reads as an abstract painting. Then you notice these abstract shapes are defined by light and shadow. You connect to it.”


Popular posts from this blog

History of Art Timeline

The historical past of art is usually told as a chronology of masterpieces created during each civilization. It can thus be framed as a narrative of high culture, epitomized by the Wonders of the World. On any other hand, vernacular art expressions can even be integrated into art historic narratives, called folk arts or craft. The more intently that an art historian engages with these latter sorts of low culture, the much more likely it is that they will determine their work as analyzing visual culture or cloth culture, or as contributing to fields associated with art historical past, akin to anthropology or archaeology. In the latter cases, art gadgets may be called archeological artifacts. Surviving art from this era comprises small carvings in stone or bone and cave painting. The first traces of human-made gadgets appeared in southern Africa, the Western Mediterranean, Central and Eastern Europe Adriatic Sea, Siberia Baikal Lake, India, and Australia. These first traces are general…

How to Show Art Work when the Gallery Says No Thanks

There are places in the town where you live where you can show your artwork when the big gallery you solicited said, "No, thanks."
Other artists may need to find venues other than galleries to show their artworks as well. Visual artists living in art-rich communities where there is a lot of local competition will need to get creative about display opportunities.

Or on the other hand, in towns without large art venues, it is important for artists to find smaller and less obvious places to show your art.

How to Show Art Work When The Gallery Says No Thanks

1. Show Where You Go

The most successful approach to finding a place in your town to display your artwork is to solicit a place that you go to frequently. Make a list of all the places you go to each day, each week, and each month.

Make a special trip, or the next time you visit note if the establishment currently exhibits any artwork, if it is local, and if it is for sale.

Also note if they have available wall space where a…

‘The Painter and the Thief’ Review: The Art of Healing (and Vice Versa)

The Painter and the Thief, Benjamin Ree's documentary on a curious friendship, starts with a crime. The Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova is exhibiting her work in an Oslo gallery — she's recently moved to Norway to live with her husband — when two paintings are stolen. They are worth roughly 20,000 euros together; one of them, "Swan Song," is considered to be her masterpiece. Surveillance footage captures a duo entering the building through a back door and exiting with two rolled-up canvases. The culprits are later identified and caught. During a hearing, Kysilkova approaches one of the accused. His name is Karl Bertil-Nordland. Why did you pick those two particular paintings to steal, she inquires. "Because they were beautiful," he replies.Ree has said that he had come across the case when he was researching the high rate of art theft in his the Scandinavian country, and had originally envisioned doing a short piece on the what, where and why of it all. Inst…