Technically my pet portraits are created with oils on canvas, but always they are created with pure emotion from the heart. With summer just around the corner, I can't help but reflect on what I was doing around this time last summer.
Last June, I was commissioned to paint Frank, a sweet and gentle pit bull who meant a great deal to his human companions. Frank was terrified of cameras, but I was able to snap a few pictures and capture his sweet and happy personality. Frank was adorable and I couldn’t wait to get started on his portrait. Halfway through working on Frank’s portrait, I received a devastating email from my client. Frank somehow managed to get out while staying with a dog sitter on the weekend my clients were moving into their new home and sadly, my clients found him on the interstate. He had been hit by a car - it was instant, and he didn’t suffer - but Frank was gone. I was so very heartbroken for their loss and couldn’t imagine what they were going through. I couldn't help but put as much heart into it as I possibly could, to do my absolute best to capture his spirit. It’s my hope his portrait helps my clients remember and cherish the connection and bond they shared with their best animal friend, Frank. I am honored to have had the opportunity to create such a meaningful piece of art for them and am grateful to have met Frank in person. He was a beautiful soul with the sweetest spirit.
During that same weekend that I learned about Frank, I was asked by a client if I would go with her to say goodbye to her beautiful boxer, Dempsey. He was having seizures and it was time. I drove so she could sit with him in the back for those final 30 minutes of precious time. My client played some of Dempsey’s favorite songs on the way, with heavy tears, singing to and hugging him, and as we pulled into the parking lot... “Blackbird singing into the dead of night… you were only waiting for this moment to arrive….” I had never been with an animal when they crossed over the rainbow bridge. Dempsey was my first. And it changed me. Once my client was ready (as she could be) to leave and go home, with Dempsey’s collar in her hand, we walked outside and came to a complete standstill in the middle of the parking lot. There was magic in the air, and we both knew it was Dempsey. I will never forget that night with the swirling breeze and shining sun through the leaves of the trees.
That weekend embodied some of the toughest moments in my twelve years of painting pet portraits. We share a deep bond with our animal friends, and it’s that bond and love we feel that inspires me to do what I do. I am grateful each and every time a client entrusts me to capture the soul and spirit of their four-legged family member.
So now it’s coming on summer and I have begun work on another beautiful soul. This time a Silver Lab named Zeus, a ninety pound lap dog who carried the newspaper up the driveway and into the house until he was twelve years old. Like many of the animals I’ve painted, Zeus is greatly missed, as he truly was a special dog. The kind of special that changes us and enriches our lives in so many ways.