Art in the time of lockdown #3

“The Dog Walkers”


  • image entirely manipulated in Adobe Photoshop Elements
  • I chose four images: one of garden for background, and three of me working in our garden
  • used ‘Clone Tool’, ‘Smudge Tool’, ‘Shapes Tool’, and ‘Paint Brush Tool’ to draw, add colour, and blend
  • ‘Grass’ and ‘Dune Grass’ in the ‘Brush Tool’ created foreground grass
  • finally I used ‘Effects – Artistic’ and ‘Effects – Brush Strokes’ to give a watercolour feel, and an overall softening of the image


The Gleaners, Jean-François Millet 1857; painted in oils on canvas
Millet depicted the lowest ranks in French society – rural, poor, female – as the central figures on a surprising large canvas. Critics commented: it was an alarming intimation of the ‘scaffolds of 1793’, and ‘three gleaners have gigantic pretensions’; this reflected the mood of the upper classes who feared the rising power of the labouring masses and the growth of Socialism.
The work is a realistic representation of the social divide, pauper v employed, female v male: three poor women scavenging for scraps of grain while a rich harvest is being loaded by employed men. This use of art for social comment was adopted by the Impressionists, and beyond, and has become one of Millet’s best-known works.

My image is an attempt to illustrate a modern gulf in attitude: to collect your pooch’s mess or to leave it for someone else to find. The three figures are filling poop bags that less ethical individuals have ‘ignored’.
In its most basis terms, Millet’s gleaners are treated like shit by every social level above them – they are the bottom of the heap, alienated, and overlooked. By contrast my women collect the shit that the ‘entitled’ leave behind; they see the overlooked mess and alienation and strive to make a difference, one poop bag at a time.

Why the title “The Dog Walkers” when no dog walker is in the image?
Simply to underscore the notion that the dog walkers – the entitled in their eyes, imagine their own superiority. They would assume their significance, whereas in the image their significance is in their very absence.

I hope you have enjoyed my post and my attempt to draw on a wonderful, deeply nuanced artwork to make a personal statement about our world today. If you have, please like, share, and comment.
Thank you for reading.

Stay well. Stay safe. Stay apart. X

Published by Marilyn

Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder after fifty years in the mental health system I decided to share my experiences and consider the impact my health has had on my well-being. Being creative is the mainstay of my life and it's how I express my deepest emotions. Photography, writing, and design challenge me and help keep me rooted in the present.

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