Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meet Koda

I have just put the finishing touches on a portrait of a dog named Koda. Although I've never met this dog, I've fallen in love with him. I tend to fall in love with dogs in the act of painting them--but I think I've fallen a little harder for this beautiful spirit because he reminds me of my wolfie, Anu. There is a sense of softness about him that is counterbalanced by those piercing eyes--gentle, yet keenly aware.

I began this portrait last week while up north on my painting retreat. As I painted, I looked often at Anu...studying where the black of her mouth meets the white of her chin, analyzing the marks around her eyes, deciphering the contours of her face and body in in terms of light and shadow, expression and mood. I could see age settling in on her and it broke my heart. But I also saw how age has brought us to know each other and has endowed her with a different way of seeing--less fierce, more wise.

Koda reminds me of Anu's younger self. He reminds me of winter. Somehow, he reminds me of my past. He causes me to feel tender and intense, all at once.

The thing I love most about painting dogs is that there are never two paintings even remotely alike. Koda has been up for adoption for a long time now. One would think that a beautiful dog like him would get snatched up in a heart beat--but it often amazes me how long it sometimes takes for even the best dogs to get adopted. Luckily, Koda is in good hands and will be well taken care of until he finds a home of his own. And yet it breaks my heart to think of all the dogs that are simply put to sleep for lack of better options.

Today I brought Vinny to see the new studio space for the first time. Since I won't move in until November, the best we could do was peek in the windows. On our way there we passed the city pound. Vinny told me that, while he was there to get licenses for the dogs, he noticed two big books on the counter. One filled with photos of dogs being kept in the shelter...and another one filled with all the dogs that have been euthanized. It stuns me to think of the many beautiful beings that this happens to every minute of every day. Then I think of all the people working to make a difference--one dog at a time--and I see how it matters.

These days my basement is filled with dogs. I love walking into my studio and seeing their faces shining from one canvas after another. At the moment I am up to my elbows in paint as I prepare for an exhibition of rescue dogs that I will hang in 2 weeks. Some of the dogs have already been adopted and some of them are still waiting to find their forever home. But every dog comes with a story--a story that I hope to capture, even if in some small way.

I hope that this show will help some of these dogs get noticed. What if every dog I painted got adopted? I wish for that. I hope for that. Lately, I find myself hoping for a lot of things. I like the way hope feels--even if it brings tears to my eyes on a regular basis. My heart feels rubbed raw and as though it is ready to burst. I admit that I think I even like the way this rawness feels. However uncomfortable, it makes me feel alive. It connects me. It breaks me open.



Sharon said...

All I can say is.....WOW....!!!

Melba said...

It is so beautiful to witness you doing your life's work. This just seems "so right" for you.
What a blessing!
Love you!

Connie said...


I took today off to paint. And all day I couldn't quite put into words this thought, this feeling I've been having. And you did it for me...I too like that feeling of hope. Even after receiving all the gifts we hope still leaves residue--doesn't it? We just paint it a different hue--change its name, to match our new day. But its hope--huh?

You got that right.

Peace & Love.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic painting! I feel the power in this piece. Intense and strong and like you said, "wise".
Beautiful, beautiful work.

Oh and the last line in this post? The best.

laundrygirl said...

Such an amazing painting! I feel the intensity behind the eyes. When you mentioned Vinny seeing the book of photos at the pound I could just see you cradling that big photo album of dogs waiting to be adopted. Then again the ones who were euthanized have a big voice too. I mean - think if you exhibited a group of paintings of these beautiful dogs along with a plea as to why we SHOULD rescue animals. Hmmm...

Amber said...

Ooooh, what if they DID all get adopted?? What if your paintings worked magic? (...Hey. That might be a great bit for a story.) What if all your hopes for the dogs got mixed with their lives as you painted them?

That would be cool.

This is SO beautiful, btw


Marilou said...

The more i get to you know you my friend, the more you amaze and inspire me. Your words are beautiful, and so true.

As usual, you have captured Koda's essence and spirit!

Love you,

Lilly Rose Chen said...

Wow! He's looks so real that you have to remind yourself it's not a photograph!

adelaide doris windsome said...

your painting of koda s beautiful and i really respect your incite.

dried leaves

Joanie Hoffman said...

what a gorgeous portrait...well done! thanks for all your postings.
Happy days,