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'Blue Dog' creator George Rodrigue loses battle with cancer

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World-renowned artist George Rodrigue, best known for his 'Blue Dog' paintings, passed away on Dec. 14, 2013 after a long battle with cancer. He was 69. His family shared the news of his death on Saturday evening through a statement on Rodrigue's website.

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"We are heartbroken to share the news that George Rodrigue has passed away after a long battle with cancer. George was our loving husband, father and friend.

George Rodrigue was also a gifted artist who set out to paint Louisiana as he knew it by visually interpreting the landscape and the rich history of the Cajun people. Later is his career his Blue Dog paintings captured the hearts and minds around the world.

He was not only a painter, but also a true community leader in his native Louisiana and his second home of Carmel, California. George remained an advocate of the arts and art-education throughout his life and dedicated himself to inspiring the next generation of artist and educators through his foundation, the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts.

While we mourn the loss of a great man, we also celebrate his rich life and legacy. George will remain a presence in the hearts of the people who got to know him and his work will continue to inspire for generations to come."

Rodrigue was born and raised in New Iberia, La. and was an only child. He began painting at the age of 9-years-old, while bedridden with polio.

Before becoming world famous for his Blue Dog paintings, Rodrigue was a praised locally for his depiction of the South Louisiana landscape and people.

What is now known as 'Blue Dog' paintings was not what Rodrigue intended them to be when he first painted one in 1984. His intentions were to paint a loup-garou and the blue color was supposed to be from the night sky casting the blue-grey color on the fur. The shape of the loup-garou came from a picture of his deceased dog Tiffany.

This painting did not become famous, but as his wife Wendy says in her blog, "it did haunt George." For the next five or six years, Rodrigue continued painting these loup-garous as well as his Cajun paintings.

Wendy says it wasn't until 1988 at an exhibition in Los Angeles that Rodrigue heard visitors referring to his loup-garou paintings as 'Blue Dogs.' When he returned to Louisiana he began experimenting to change the loup-garou into what is now the famous Blue Dog.

Wendy Wolfe Rodrigue, wife of George Rodrigue shares the history of Blue Dog, Cajuns, stories about their family and everything else one might want to know about George Rodrigue in her blog 'Musings of an Artist's Wife.'

George Rodrigue is survived by his wife Wendy, and their two sons, Jacques and Andre.

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