Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Trixie and Adeline

Tonight I lovingly packaged up my most recent commissions for two very dear blogging friends Tori and Imelda. I am learning rather quickly that it is impossible to know in advance how long, exactly, it will take to paint a portrait. Every painting I have ever done has always been a new experience. And this was no exception when it came to painting portraits of Adeline (top left) and Trixie (bottom right).

I am still amazed by how much emotion I can have for a dog by the time I am done painting it. I suppose if you look at something long enough, you can walk away with a greater familiarity of it, no matter what it is. But it's hard to explain. It's something more than that. I am sitting here right now struggling with words to explain what I mean...and finding it impossible. Something extraordinary happens when I paint dogs. It is an intuition, an understanding, a unexplainable connection. All I know is that I am grateful that this happens because, somehow, it feels very much like a gift.

As I worked on Adeline's portrait what I felt was an absolute, pure, complete trust. I can tell that she loves her people with her entire being. You know that feeling of loving someone so much that you can barely stand it? That feeling of wanting to be close, so close that you can never get close enough? In painting Adeline's portrait, it seems to me that she has given her whole heart to Tori and B. and they have given their whole hearts to her. I mean, really, how many hours did I work on her painting, feeling that powerful love the entire time? Do you see why this work fills me so completely?

In painting both Adeline and Trixie, what I saw (or rather, felt) was the great amount of love that they hold for their human companions. Trixie (Imelda's dog), has sadly passed away. Still, I could feel her life stretching right past the canvas and into our living, breathing world. Funny how that love and energy doesn't go away--even after one dies. I smiled often while painting Trixie's portrait--mostly because of the goofy little grin she had on her face, but also because I could sense her body just barely able to control her eagerness for love. Several years ago, my dog Abe passed away. If one could ever have a soul-dog, then he was mine. He was what one might call my familiar. When he died my whole world just sort of fell out from under me. He might have been "just a dog," but to me he was much more than that and his loss was the most devastating experience of my life. Adopting Louie has helped to heal my heart in a hundred thousand ways. I was even starting to forget that tender spot in my heart. That is, until I started painting Trixie's and Adeline's portrait.

The thing that blows me away is how everything in my life has brought me to this work. I have struggled often these past couple months in maintaining a belief in myself that is strong enough to get me past this time of "in between." That is, this time between stretching myself too thin between both work and painting...this time before taking the necessary next step into full-time artistville. There have been many days when I was the only person that actively believed in myself (or at least that's how it felt). There have been days when even that belief became dangerously nonexistent. If I wanted to play it safe I suppose I could get a job with benefits and a steady pay-check, but then I pick up my paint brushes and am filled with such...aliveness.

What would it take for me to believe that this work will take care of me? What would it take for me to have greater faith that my heart knows the most financially/ emotionally/ mentally/ spiritually/ physically satisfying path? And what would happen if I allowed myself to feel as connected to me as I do the subjects I paint?


Laura B. said...

Jessie, I hope you can do this work for as long as you love it so much.
I saw Into the Wild and thought of you - Have you seen it?
I want you to paint Monty, but we've been having financial trouble lately. Don't worry --- I won't forget!

Sacred Suzie said...

Oh you are so talented. I know art will take care of you. Who wouldn't want you to do their dog's portrait?! They're so beautiful. You're really capturing the joy of their spirit.

I told my husband that you did this kind of work and he teared up, he thought it was such a beautiful thing. And it is! If I had a dog (and one day I will) you will be her artist.

Olivia said...

Jessie, I am so happy for you. Just keep with this. It will never be worth it to trade this for a wage job.

I see you as entering into the soul of the dog (dead or alive) and being able to convey the love that was the relationship into art. This is such a gift.

My dogs have been dead for over 10 years and the love has never died---it still exists somewhere---and I do believe you could paint it and give it back to me in a form that I could re-member every time I look at my painting. When dogs teach us about love they are an instrument in the hand of the Divine and they can never be "just" anything, as anyone who has ever loved a dog knows.

It seems to me as though you have found a sacred calling.

Blessings to you, grace, and continued joy, O xxoo

Tori said...


You made me cry with the words that you shared about Adeline. Our love for her is out of this world and it is so wonderful to know that you sense that in her eyes. Having you create this painting is such an amazing thing.


GreenishLady said...

My heart is overflowing to see my beautiful Trixie "come alive" again under your hand. You are an amazing artist whose love for your subject imbues your work. I just KNOW asking you to do this portrait is the most important thing I could have done for my healing after the loss of Trixie, and I cannot express enough my gratitude to you for this. Bless you, bless you, bless you.

Imelda (in tears of joy and gratitude)

Jessie said...

gol, you guys. i'm sitting here reading your words and i am in tears too! the thoughts you've shared truly touch my heart and mean more to me than you could possibly know. thank you for that, sincerely.

much love,

Sharon said...

Jessie, I am sitting here with tears running down my cheeks... you have such a wonderful gift. You don't just PAINT dog pictures, you capture their very souls onto the canvas. I can feel it when I look at each portrait you have done.

Right now my little Sony is having some severe health problems... I can hardly grasp the fact that she may have to 'leave' me... When she does, you can be sure I will contact you for a portrait of her. Bless you!

caroline : my pocket said...

Reading that and the comments made me all weepy and tender-hearted. You are so brave and your posts change me every time. I just know you are going to take off and your wings will carry you, having gathered strength from all that you have gone through. And nothing fuels work more than love for what you are doing, that will be enough. You will change and perhaps adjust in unexpected ways but you will fly. x

Annie said...

I am right there with you. Wanting to
paint full time so badly and yet the fear keeps me at my job. I have faith
that we both will know when it is the right time to jump and I am betting it is soon for both of us :-).Thank you for the inspiration.

megg said...

I LOVE YOU. And anyone who FEELS so deeply about what they are doing will be supported. I believe that. You are putting in the desire, the belief AND the WORK and that is what counts.

you inspire me every single time I come here!!!


(a BIG FAT LETTER is on its way!!! )

Anonymous said...

wow, jessie.

just. wow.


Leah said...

girl, you are on your way!!

i can see how you connect with these animals as you paint them. of course you do, you feel so deeply, you love animals, and with these paintings you're seeing into their souls. how beautiful is that? xoxoxo love you, darlin!

Amy said...

Jessie, I am feeling the same things as an artist.But, I am still quite a few steps behind you.
You are getting so close, "Stay Brave !"
Your work is so beautiful and it makes people so happy.
I am so glad that I have the "Be Brave", badge on my bloggy to remind me.
You can do this. oxox, Amy

Colorsonmymind said...

This moved me-deep in my gut-beyond tears-a deep shifting movement.

Thank you love

Amber said...

Aww, look at Trixie...So sweet.