Rules, Boundaries, and Limitations: Why I Like Cesar Millan

December 20, 2011


Above: Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketch with light gouache washes in a 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia in-studio journal. Magenta and dark indigo Schmincke gouache, and M. Graham yellow ochre gouache. Click on the image and view an enlargement.

I really only have one thing to say about Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer: Exercise, Discipline, Affection.

Anyone I've seen raising their dogs (or children) in an unstable manner nurturing anxiety, fear, dominance, etc. could be helped by Cesar's show. But then they would have to be able to recognize themselves.

Cesar's show really isn't about dogs, it's about training people, to have better lives. You can of course do this if you don't have a dog, but the great thing about dogs is they show us how to do it every moment of every day, when they are balanced. We get to help them do that in return, by being balanced ourselves. 

Late one night (early one morning) tired of working from dog park photos I was watching a bit of TV and an episode of DW was on, so it seemed appropriate that I take a moment and sketch Daddy (a pit bull who for many years accompanied Cesar on his missions).

I've included this sketch on the blog because lately I've been sketching on blank spreads and then before I start to paint I've been taking a 3 inch flat brush and making random strokes about the place. Not quite random—I try to use colors that I'm going to need in the final image and I try to leave highlight areas in the broadest sense, i.e., I'll go high or low of them but I won't take time to carve around the highlight areas when I'm making those random strokes.

I find this variation of painted backgrounds great fun. Also since I've picked the colors that I'm going to actually use in the sketch I don't have to worry about covering the background with thicker layers of gouache.

OK, what I really like is taking a huge flat brush and stroking it randomly all over the sketch I just made. With abandon. Sometimes I also take a paper towel to those strokes, while they are still wet, and blur and muss them more.

The addition of modeled color to Daddy's face was then accomplished with a 3/4 inch filbert working right over any previous random strokes. If you look closely you can see that in some instances I let the 3/4 inch filbert get very dry, flattened it out so that it broke up into parallel groups of hairs and then used it to make parallel lines all in one stroke (see the eyes).

If you can't spend time with a dog today, make a point of painting one, and remember what it's like to touch that balanced energy.

  1. Reply

    Love this page. And yes. I think this rule applies to kids as well. When I see badly behaved kids I think that the adults around them failed them.

  2. Reply

    Elizabeth, Kids, like dogs, need a calm, assertive leader. Sadly so many parents I see “lead” with anxiety and frustration.

    Glad you enjoyed this page.

    • Linda
    • December 20, 2011

    Roz, Ceasar my hero I’m in high hopes he will beable towork hes magic and well beable to take away this not wanted dog problem we have our animails are gifts to us and Ceasar hes an earth angel.Love your drawing of Daddy miss that boy, so.Happy Holidays Roz and a wonderful new year,
    LindaThank you for all you do here.

    • Denise T
    • December 20, 2011

    Hi Roz-
    Great piece. I adore Ceasar for all the same reasons- AND how he worked hard himself to be what he is. AND I love how you captured Daddy’s age. Old dogs have a wisdom and sweetness about them.
    Been busy all summer working with a rescue horse-see her blog here if you care-
    your fan , Denise
    from Strathmore and Fake journal month 🙂

  3. Reply

    Thanks Denise, and yes, Cesar has worked hard! And thank you for sending the link to update me on what you are doing. I hope you work with her continues to go well.

    And yes, I think that old dogs really do have a wisdom and sweetness, especially evident when you get to see them interacting with other dogs or people and cats.


  4. Reply

    Linda, Cesar’s ability to educate people will have a rippling effect, I believe on the dog population issues. But we all need to think and talk and work towards something balanced. Sadly I see too many people involved in dogs leading from their ego and their own selfish wants and desires. But I think Cesar is a bright light in it all.

  5. Reply

    Denise and Linda, just a heads up, please note that Cesar spells his name Cesar. It will help you if you are looking him up on the internet, etc.

    • Leslie Schramm
    • December 20, 2011

    I’m not a dog person, well not little dogs anyway. That’s a wonderful sketch. My neighbour does dog walking, and dog taxi-ing, sometimes there’s a dog or two staying for a bit. The best tempered dog she’s ever had was a pitbull/alsatian cross; due to the excellent and sensible training, and an owner who just seemed to calm the dog; and that one had that same relaxed air of Daddy’s portrait. All the best; Leslie

    • BJ
    • December 20, 2011

    Wonderful painting of Daddy. . . he was a wonderful ambassador for his breed. I live with five dogs, one of which has the wisdom and grace of the grand old dame of 14 that she is. Old dogs, especially ones who have spent their lives with us, are so very special. She’s been with me since 8 weeks old. Dogs are great for helping us to balance our lives. . . esp. multiple dogs 🙂

  6. Reply

    Thanks Leslie, Pit Bulls are wonderful dogs and it’s sad to see some groups of people treating them so badly for their own ego. Glad you liked the portrait!

  7. Reply

    BJ, just watching the old episodes with Daddy on them makes me smile! I’m glad you enjoyed seeing him on TV as well.

    How wonderful to have 5 dogs!I hope you are sketching your grand dame every day while she’s with you. What a gift to have her.

    • Louise
    • December 22, 2011

    I live in a region of the country where pit bulls and roosters are treated badly. Bred for fighting. Even though it’s illegal, it still goes on. It makes me sick. I will never understand how people can cheer this or participate in it. A local news site posted a story today about 26 pit bulls found chained behind two trailers. Your portrait of ‘Daddy’ shines a bright light on what is all too often a grim topic.

    • Louise
    • December 22, 2011

    I forgot to add, that I have been owned by two wonderful beautiful pets … a dog and a cat …. both of whom were rescues. I could not have had a better dog or a better cat if I had custom ordered and designed them. I acquired the dog as a puppy when she was living in terrible conditions. The cat was living in a parking lot in a nearby city. My dog lived to be 17 and my cat lived to be 19. I did not sketch them. I wish I had. They were so special.

  8. Reply

    Louise, I too don’t understand the dog fighting thing. I was born in a country where cock fighting was (and I think may still be) prevalent and it’s a very horrifying thing. Some animals do naturally fight in the wild and I can accept that but I don’t care for “engineered” situations.

    I’m glad that you have had a wonderful life (and given them a wonderful life) with two rescue animals. I know that opening your heart to them has given you many benefits.

    Cesar always says, “You get the dog that you need.” I have found that to be so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Cookmode

Pin It on Pinterest