Artist George Rodrigue, most famous for his Blue Dog paintings, is a Cajun through and through.
Born in New Iberia in 1944, he attended an all-boys high school, went to college, studied art in L.A. and trained in New York — all so he could come back home to Louisiana.
Before the Blue Dog paintings made Rodrigue famous worldwide, he painted hundreds of pieces in the 1970s featuring oak trees before expanding his subjects to include the Cajun people and their traditions.
In between paintings, Rodrigue answered…
SW: Why a Blue Dog? Why not yellow, red or green?
GR: The Blue Dog first appeared as a bluish/gray/green loup-garou, Cajun werewolf image. Its color came from the blue moon at night. Over the years I’ve painted it many colors, including the ones you mention, but no matter what the color, people still call it the Blue Dog. Here’s a link to the story behind the color.
SW: People spend a lot of money on your Blue Dog paintings. Did you ever imagine that painting a dog in so many different settings would pay off so handsomely?
GR: I painted Cajuns for 25 years and was very successful financially. I’ve been lucky because everything I’ve ever painted has been popular. I just paint what I want, and I don’t worry about the rest.
SW: What’s the most unique painting request you’ve received?
GR: I do not take requests.
SW: You’ve painted presidents, their families, Jazz Fest posters and more. What stands out as the most memorable and why?
GR: My presentation of the Reagan painting to President Reagan was a highlight, as was the Clinton presentation in the White House. It’s a real honor to paint the Presidents and have them appreciate my work.
SW: After six semesters at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, you ventured out to California. You were a Cajun studying art in Los Angeles. How’d that go?
GR: I studied art in Los Angeles, because I wanted to be taught by professional artists that would sit down with me and show me (not just tell me) about the process and their way of thinking about art. I wanted to learn the fundamentals from the best, and I found that at Art Center in California. More on this history here.