Friday, May 09, 2008

island dogs and gauguin dreams...

I just finished this painting in memory of "Lu," a stray island dog that was found and adopted in Florida. Commissioned for a mother's day present, I completed the portrait with just enough time for it to dry and then be delivered this Saturday.

I never met Lu, but I can tell by her eyes that she was one incredibly intelligent dog--and I liked her from the moment I laid eyes on the photos. Lu seems like one of those once-in-a-life-time sort of dogs. It's obvious why her family misses her. I would too.

But there's something interesting about painting dogs, even when the portrait is in memory of a loved soul. I had fun painting Lu. It felt like I was painting her back to life. Oh, if only it were possible!

One of the reasons I enjoyed this commission so much is because of Lu's story. Being an island dog, I couldn't help but think of my favorite Paul Gauguin paintings and his imperfectly written memoir, Noa Noa. I came across it while working on my art degree and that little book swallowed me whole. At that point I was already fairly obsessed with Gauguin's life and work, but I fell in love with the book because, even though it wasn't very well written, it was fascinating. Maybe I fell in love with the book BECAUSE it wasn't very well written (but was fascinating anyway). I think that's when I learned the importance of telling our stories--no matter what our level of writerly talent might be.

Painting Lu woke up a side of me that had started to fade away. She woke up the part of me that is curious about the many stories there are to listen to or tell. She has made me think about those sacred colors that live below the surface of our day to day lives. She made me start dreaming about far-away places (India, I miss you!). She made me think about my own story and how I might live it to its furthest reaches. Painting this portrait of Lu has caused me to amp up the color of my dreams.

I think I've found a new love for island dogs. These little experiences, what if we truly let them lead us to whatever is next?



Sacred Suzie said...

Your work always impresses and moves me. Island dogs do sound very special indeed Jessie.

I love real writing. Writing that hasn't been edited to death, writing that is spontaneous and true and raw. There's something so magickal about it and passionate and fresh.

Jessie said...

Yes, Suzie! It makes me so happy that you know what I mean! :)

GreenishLady said...

Jessie, you've said what I was trying to say in what I emailed to you this evening. You say it felt like painting Lu back to life. Yes. That's what you did with Trixie, or at least painted her spirit back. Yes! This is special work you're doing. I'm sure that painting will bring as much comfort and healing to Lu's people as the painting of Trixie has to me.

Amber said...

Oh wow, wow, wow! This is just SO beautiful. I bet who ever got this painting LOVED it. You are SO GOOD!!! You have so found your nitch with animals. But all your work is just so what i love in art, really. Your style totally speaks to me. I WILL own some of it some day!!!


Colorsonmymind said...

what a beautiful portrait and piece of your heart.

I just showed my husband your beautiful work.

Email me girl- I need a quote for a commissioned piece of our three cats.