While I plan and complete this custom commission, I can't help but think about the animals in my life; both the current furry family and those that are already gone.
It seems to me that our pets find us, those that need them, at a time when we need them the most.
I rescued my wee gremlin Max when I needed rescuing. He gave me structure and a critter to love as I coped with my family's new shared custody arrangement that had me crying as many days as not. He got me outside when all I wanted to do was stay in bed. He kept me warm and accepted the love that needed an outlet. He made the whole family laugh with his ridiculous antics and served as my ferocious ankle biting guard dog. In return, he got to sleep in a warm bed, and travel with me everywhere I went.
In his deep loyalty and unconditional devotion, he reminds me of my first dog, Mr. Fred. A Maltese fluffball with a heart of gold, who stole fresh carrots from the garden and was ready to play at a moment's notice, Fred became my best friend when I was five. We had many pets that came and went in Fred's time. One was a lab destined to be my hiking buddy. We had only had her for a a short while when tragedy hit.
I'd like to think she didn't suffer. That night, sitting on my kitchen floor, holding her collar in my outstretched hand, I cried the deep wail of childhood grief. Fred tried many tactics to console me as he sat by my side. He snuggled. He licked. He whined. When nothing else worked, my sweet dog stood up, and carefully put his head through the big collar that was suspended in my hand. He looked into my eyes and seemed to remind me that he wasn't going anywhere... I could depend on him to love me through my sadness. I did. Through teenage years and break-ups, family dramas and heartaches, he never let me down.
Fred lived to be a spunky old man and loved me as I finished highschool, and came home from university. He was the gold standard against which I measured all dogs.
After Fred, we had some pretty amazing animals, kittens that followed us on long walks, and dogs that could be trained to do anything, but none were ever quite as special as Fred....probably because we had grown up together.
So it is that whenever I start a new commissioned pet portrait, I ask many questions about the animal. I ask for their silly quirks. I want to hear the stories that their human parents want to tell me. I find myself falling in love with every furball that I represent in glass. If I didn't, I don't think I could do what I do. I certainly believe that I wouldn't do it as effectively. The honour I feel when a pet parent chooses me to commemorate their pet with a portrait is great. I take it seriously and strive to truly create an image that reflects more than just how the animal looked. I want my portraits to convey personality.
What is the quirk that you love most about your furry best friend?
In my next blog post, I will share the photograph and final image of "Forget Me Not" my portrait of Butterscotch, the well loved cat who lived to 17 and will be missed dearly by her human mom.