Andrew — Pencil sketch in my Moleskin

Andrew in my moleskine

I’m taking a break from the grizzly bear painting for a few weeks. I need to not look at it for awhile, so I can see it with fresh eyes. Often putting a painting away for a while, and working on other things, allows me to get some distance from it and make better decisions once I go back. Things seem clearer, mistakes seem more obvious, and sometimes I think that the problems just work themselves out in my subconscious when I just give them some time.  The worst thing I’ve ever done to any painting is to keep on working when I’m beyond frustrated with it, and believe me, every painting goes through that stage! I’ve ruined a few paintings with my stubbornness and my dogged determination to finish at all costs. So not good! 
Going back to the plain old pencil, my first love, is like visiting an old friend. No surprises, just comfort. Knowing exactly what to expect…it’s nice, and safe. I can work for hours, and my mind wanders and time disappears. It’s easier for me than color, no huge decisions to make, nothing that will ruin the picture that can’t be fixed without an eraser. 
The wonderful reference photo for this one is from JonathanR on Flickr. You can see it, and more of his beautiful photography, here.
I’ve also posted about it at my Facebook page, here. Don’t forget to LIKE my page if you want to see more up to date work.


I Hope…

Hope — 9″ x 12″ oil on canvas

…everyone had a great Christmas. I’m taking a break off of ACEO’s for a week or so to paint something I really want to, and this was last night’s result. About 6 hours to completion, I think.
Her eyes say it all…

A Dog’s Purpose

Well, I’ve had a pretty awful week, I must admit. I haven’t been able to paint much let alone think. I’ve been consumed with worry and sadness. On October 26th, our sweetheart family dog, Zappa, was diagnosed with lymphoma. He was only five, and we got him when my son was just a baby, so they’ve literally grown up side by side. He was one of the best dogs I’ve ever had. Smart, loyal, he always knew what we wanted and what we needed. He was great at catching a frisbee, even though he only had one eye. He was calm, and protective, but never aggressive, just the best dog ever. The vet said that we should have him put down right away, but we couldn’t do it. It was such a surprise to hear the diagnosis and he hadn’t even been acting sick. We wanted to try to fight for him. But only the day after his diagnosis he went rapidly downhill. There ended up being nothing we could do for him, as he couldn’t even eat or drink. We had him put down to end his suffering two days ago.
My friend emailed me this yesterday, and it was so true, it brought tears to my eyes.
This is for Zappa…our friend…our family…he will be truly missed.

A Dog’s Purpose
(from a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ‘I know why.’

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, ‘People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?’ The Six-year-old continued, ‘Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.’

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.