Stray Dog Arts

Wild Horses, Wine, and a BIRTHDAY PARTY!! :: You're Invited!


 Wild Horse Heart :: 39 (a breathing space) :: Photographic Works by Jessie Marianiello :: with complimentary horse hair pottery by Kevin Matthews

Wild horses, art and wine! Let's have a party! A birthday just wouldn't be a birthday without YOU to celebrate it with! :) Please join us for an artists' reception at Gallery 1639!

A bit about the show....

The past couple of years have taken me on some pretty awesome adventures, including my time spent with wild horses. Horses have pulled me deeper into the photographic processes of my art, but even more than that, they have become profound healers and teachers in my life. This past summer I traveled with a small posse of renegade women to the far reaches of the Wyoming mountains to spend time with these wild ones. To say it was an adventure would be an understatement. To experience the thundering and dust of a couple hundred wild horses stampeding through your camp, well now...that is something to be savored.

We spent entire days, alone or together, with these horses. I felt my heart turn into something whole and strong. I observed their relationships and movements and, in the process, felt a little bit closer to myself, too.

Wild Horse Heart is an ongoing project that began as a cross-country trek two years ago. I was in search of wild horses, but I was also in search of myself. This series of photographs (and paintings) continues to evolve and unfold in ways that my spirit refuses to over-plan. It's a breathing space. And I share this little piece of it with you as a gift--to both of us. This life is as gorgeous as we allow it to be. Be Brave. Be Wild. Be Free.

Every year for my birthday I come up with a word (or words) to navigate the coming year by. This past year (38) was dedicated to "New Beginnings." Oooh, and there have been an abundance of them! It's been a year of new relationships, new insights, new projects and new opportunities. It has been The Beginning of a whole new stage in my life and, for that, I am unabashedly grateful. The year before (37), was dedicated to the notion of "free fall." It was a year of risk-taking and letting go and it led to about a thousand kinds of goodness. In hindsight, it probably goes without saying that the free fall was a perfect set-up for new beginnings. ;)

On Monday, Dec 9th, I'll be turning 39. I think we're supposed to keep our age a secret at some point, but (ha!) I have to admit, I love birthdays. I love my birthday; I love your birthday; I love birthdays in general. Anyway, 39 feels like it's going to be a good year. It is a year of groundedness, compassion, artistry and integrity. And I also have a feeling that it's going to contain a lot of love--from endless sources.

I've been very thoughtful about what I want the coming year to contain and have decided to dedicate my 39th year to

b-r-e-a-t-h-i-n-g s-p-a-c-e.

Oh, sweet breathing space...
(( insert breath here ))
Feels pretty good, doesn't it? :)

To me, breathing space contains a hearty and necessary dose of calm. It leaves room for a sense of purpose and connection. It invites adventure and travel. It makes space for learning and pursuing the projects I am most energized by. With breathing space, things have a way of falling into alignment. The impossible becomes possible; the uncomfortable becomes more comfortable. New ideas spark from the ethers; creative leaps of faith find a place to land.

So tell me: What is it that YOU wish for in the year ahead? Wanna inspire each other?

Monday, December 9th: Some might call it an art opening. I'm calling it a BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!!!! :) Let's raise a toast to friendship, intention, and living life with a beautifully wild heart!

See you there!!!! :)


xoxoxoxo,
Jessie Marianiello

"Mi Perro" :: Recent Works by Jessie Marianiello :+:+: ArtBARK! :: An Art Contest for Kids! :: YOU'RE INVITED!

Receiving a puppy love infusing at
Tierra de Animales in Mexico.

Where...oh, where to begin?! It has been an incredible 9 months filled with incredible amounts of travel. This past February, a spontaneous invitation to take a trip to Mexico ended up being just the beginning of a willingness to say YES to a whole new way of living, working and interacting with both the world and my art. Little did I know, at the time, how the experience was pulling me deeper, leading me on a global adventure and criss-cross pattern across the nation. You see, it often feels as though I am being pulled by a mysterious silver thread, each experience connected to the next (...and the next and the next). I've been feeling that way for quite awhile now, but these days I'm starting to see that pull play itself out in some pretty interesting ways. The thread that I speak of is equally tenuous and tenacious, requiring a depth of intuition that I've learned to trust with my entire being.  

Nearly 18 months ago, I hunkered down in northern Minnesota for, what I've come to call, a "Northerly Painting Retreat."  I came here to catch up with commissions, work on a few projects, and maybe learn how to take a little bit better care of myself. Little did I know that my northerly "retreat" would lead me great distances into adventures of a lifetime. The best part? Something tells me that this is just the beginning. :)

I feel infused. Fueled. Ready to dive in and see where life is taking me next. No doubt, it is bound to be an interesting journey. I can barely remember a time in my life when I felt so ENGAGED, so saturated and satisfied. In these past several months, I've spent time with stray dogs in Mexico, with street cats in Morocco, and helped rescue a dog we nick-named Lady Magdalena in Spain. I've sat with herds of wild horses in the mountains of Wyoming and watched dust being kicked up by the thundering hooves of horses in New Mexico. En route, I've met a hundred gorgeous people along the way. To say these experiences have changed me would be an understatement. I've been turned inside out--and have come to find that I rather like it that way.

And now? I am back in my northern studio. Painting and painting and painting in preparation for a solo exhibition in honor of the Mexican street dogs that I met this past February. I am painting with my whole heart and, without a doubt, I know that I have found a true calling.

I am grateful to have you along with me on this journey.

This is meaningful work and it is truly an honor to be able to share the beginnings of what is turning into a growing project of working with stray animals around the world. I will be donating 50% of all original "Mi Perro" painting sales to Tierra de Animales in an attempt to help them continue doing the incredible work they do.

The "Mi Perro" event will be happening in tandem with ArtBARK!, an art contest for kids and raffle in support of Pet Project Rescue.

Save the date, my friends!
2 events, 1 celebration, 2 rescues, 1 cause!
We hope to see you there!!


Please join us for an Opening Reception & Celebration!

Saturday, Nov 16th :: 4:30-7:30pm
The Bone Bone Room
(next door to Bone Adventure's NE location)
312 E Hennepin, Mpls, MN

Let's see how many people we can fit into a space 
filled to the brim with dog art, dog love and 
LIVE MARIACHI MUSIC!!!!!! 

  
WOOF!
xoxoxoxoxxoxoxo

with whole-hearted stray dog love,
Jessie Marianielo
xo

~


ArtBARK! :: An Art Contest and Raffle!


KIDS!!  We want your dog art!!!

Get your entry cards at any of the Bone Adventure locations and submit them by November 10th!

ArtBARK! is an art contest and raffle in celebration of the connections created between our dogs, our families, our communities and the greater world. Submit an entry to our dog-themed art show and contest, then bring your family by to see all the great dog art! Pet Project Rescue is a local organization that rescues homeless or abandoned dogs and cats while also working to reduce the homeless animal population at its source in Minnesota AND Mexico!!

The winners of the art contest will be shown along 
with paintings by yours truly in the "Mi Perro" 
gallery exhibition at The Bone Bone Room.


Come for the ART. Come for the FUN.
And, while you're at it, help support
PET PROJECT RESCUE!!

Raffle tickets can be purchased at any of the Bone Adventure locations OR at the event for $10/ea!
Support Pet Project Rescue AND get a chance to win great prizes for you and your pet from Stray Dog Arts, Bone Adventure, and Metro Dogs Daycare and Boarding!

Winning and participating ArtBARK! artists are invited and 
encouraged to be a special part of opening night celebrations!

See you at The Bone Bone Room!
(next door to Bone Adventure's NE location) 
312 E Hennepin, Mpls MN
Saturday, Nov 16th :: 4:30-7:30pm

~

Calling all Minneapolis dogs! :: i luv u, MPLS! :: A special project opportunity!!


About the project...

Welcome to my gratitude project! As an artist, I love the way both art and dogs bring people together, creating a common ground between those who might otherwise remain strangers.  Incredibly, I'm lucky enough to experience a life that includes both art AND dogs! Once upon a time, I didn't believe it was possible to fully support myself as an artist. But then something happened: Minneapolis proved me wrong!! For the past six years, I've been living my dream and loving what I do. And now? It's time to have a show in celebration of YOU!

I am currently looking for participants to become part of an upcoming exhibition: i luv u, MPLS! This project, the culmination of an ongoing series, reflects a sense of place and is rooted in a celebration of community.  It is my way of saying:
THANK YOU, MINNEAPOLIS!

If your dog lives, works or plays in the Minneapolis area and is interested in taking part, please contact me! {jessie (at) straydogarts (dot) com}

The perks...



The details...

In the past 6 years I have done several major solo exhibitions including the Dogs of Bryn Mawr, Dogs of Linden Hills, Dogs of Edina, Animals of AHS, and BULLDOG (just to name a few). i luv u, MPLS! is gearing up to be the biggest exhibition to date!  Each show takes on a tremendous life of its own and something tells me that this one is going to be no exception!

So how does it work?  

I am offering my old prices to anyone who commits to being a part of this exhibition. Due to an increasingly extended wait list, my prices have recently doubled.  However, I want to extend my old pricing to Minneapolis area residents who become a part of this project as my way of saying THANK YOU to the community of dog lovers and art enthusiasts who have helped me to succeed in doing what I love most.  Prices start at $1,800.  This includes a private professional-grade photoshoot with your dog(s), consultations and, of course, an original work of art of YOUR dog(s)! Not to mention, you get to jump the wait list for commissioned portraits! Please contact me for a full price list (mention this project for old pricing). Multiple dog homes are also invited! 

What's the process?
  • An approximate 50% nonrefundable deposit is required to get the process started and hold your place in the show. The remaining amount is not due until the portrait is completed.  Check, credit cards and Paypal are all accepted.  Feel more comfortable spreading out the investment over time? Monthly payment plans via credit card are also an option.  Please do not hesitate to ask for more details, if interested!
  • I like to do a photoshoot as early in the process as possible.  My photoshoot schedule books out quickly and so let's go ahead and get something planned! :) The photoshoot takes about an hour and is totally casual and fun. We can do this at your home or on location in the Minneapolis area.
  • Once we have images to work with, I will share the best options with you and, together, we will decide which image will best translate into a painted portrait.  We will also decide on exact canvas dimensions and details at this time.  I'm happy to give suggestions in terms of sizes (ect), but will also keep your budget, dog(s) and wall space in mind as we find our way to the perfect portrait! :)
  • The second half of the project will be dedicated to painting these gorgeous portraits into being! I work in oil on extra deep gallery wrapped canvas.  This gives your painting a clean, contemporary look and so no framing is necessary.
  • Last but not least, once the paintings are completed, it will then be time to CELEBRATE!!!!
WOOF!!!
Contact me! 
The best part?

In approximately 18 months we will celebrate an OPENING RECEPTION!  You, YOUR DOG, your friends, family and the public are all invited!  This is the BIG NIGHT when everyone's paintings are unveiled for the first time and, OH(!), what a night it will be!!!!  The energy is ELECTRIC! Live music, hors d'oeuvres, wine, good company--an unforgettable dog-friendly Fine Art experience! Exact date and location is TBD by the size and scope of the exhibition.

Once the show comes down, the original painted portrait (or portraits if you have multiple animals) will be yours to enjoy forever and ever. xo

But wait...that's not all!  Your pet(s) painted portrait(s)will also be included in a Limited Edition coffee table book, signed by the artist.  This book will be a celebration of Minneapolis area dogs, their painted portraits, and the incredible community that I call home.  I can't wait to see this book come into being and be able to share it with YOU! :)





May all dogs be happy!

with lots of dog love and appreciation,
Jessie Marianiello

*   *   *   *   *

The i luv u, MPLS! gratitude project proudly supports Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. RLRR, a non-profit, all-volunteer organization is near and dear to the heart of Stray Dog Arts. Therefore, a portion of all profits will be donated to the work they do! Also keep an eye out for upcoming fundraising opportunities! Thank you, Minneapolis, for so graciously helping these animals in need!




SPONSORED BY:

Bone Adventure & Bone Bone Room


Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis, MN :: THIS weekend!

Guess what! I'm launching a NEW PROJECT!!! Want to find out more about it? Come visit me at the Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis this weekend!! Aug 2nd-4th. Booth #1213. You'll find me under the trees halfway down "The Mall" on the greenway side. 

Friday noon-8pm
Saturday 10am-8pm
Sunday 10am-5pm

Can't wait to see you!

May all dogs be happy!!
i luv u, MPLS!

with lots of dog love,
Jessie

Maktub!

"BooBoo" :: 18" x 18" Oil on Canvas :: Commissioned

Some things are just meant to be.

And, because of this, I'm happy to share with you a recently completed portrait of Marly Paul, aka BooBoo, aka one of the most endearing cats I've ever met. BooBoo's portrait has been in the process of coming into being for a very long time. It's not by accident that I ended up finally diving into this painting after returning home from my travels in Morocco, where I photographed stray cats for a series of paintings that I will be working on. Oh, those cats...they broke me open. I went there with the intention of photographing street dogs and so, when my project took an unexpected turn, I wasn't really emotionally prepared for it, you know? Not at all, actually. But the connection between BooBoo and my travels does not end there. His "mama," Julie, also used to live there! What are the chances?!

I often feel like I need to just step out of the way and let things happen as they are supposed to. I make a plan and then the details end up unfolding in very different ways. When this happens, it is often challenging for me to deviate from my proposed timelines and plans. But more and more, I am learning to trust. After all, when I finally let go, that's when the good stuff REALLY starts to happen. Things like this portrait.

I had just returned home from Morocco a couple of weeks previous, had recently recovered from a travel bug, was finally sinking back into the groove of painting, and there I was painting BooBoo, an ancient cat nearing his second decade of life, and, well...the tears just started to roll! Strangely, it felt good. In the act of creating, something was being processed. While my own cat, Viscosa, slept next to me in the studio, I felt the presence of her, of BooBoo, of every single cat I had come in contact with while in Morocco and beyond. A feeling just sort of flooded through me in the easiest, purest of ways. There was a moment when, as I worked on BooBoos' portrait, great big plump tears rolled and plopped from my eyes. I was surprised! What the...?? The tears were coming from somewhere very clear and neutral. They weren't sad tears, not at all. They weren't happy tears. They weren't any certain kind of tears except the kind that comes from, well...being open. Morocco changed something in me. I photographed hundreds of stray cats. Some of them healthy and some of them on the verge of starvation and probably death. It is a lot for an animal loving heart to take in. The timing for this portrait could not have been more perfect.

I gave myself over to it completely and was profusely energized by it in the process. Even the colors infused me in just the right way!

When it came time to deliver the portrait, it was a dark, rainy day. I had the canvas wrapped in an immensely soft, wildly bright yellow blanket. Julie's smile, upon answering the door, was sparkly and expectant. It felt good to see her and the dogs. We unveiled the painting in the living room where BooBoo was curled up on the couch--these days he is a skinny, frail old man, although still so full of spirit and life(!)--which is when BOTH Julie and I BURST into tears!! Geez!! I have to tell you that I have never cried like that when delivering a painting! But there we were...both of us crying like big dumb babies and laughing and crying and shaking our heads and just, well...feeling an immense amount of love. LOVE. That is the only way I can describe what this experience is. From beginning to end.

This is love.

In honor of Marly Paul/BooBoo and all the stray cats of Morocco: "Maktub," an alchemist term (arabic word) which literally means "it is written." Or, in the words of Paulo Coehlo: “Certain things in life simply have to be experienced--and never explained. Love is such a thing.”

Maktub,
Jessie

threads of inspiration


A man whose life and painting still inspires my work: Happy Birthday Paul Gauguin born on this day in 1848! A great film about his life and work by the Tate: http://ow.ly/lMg5c And a perfect painting to share with you: "Arearea." How appropriate that this painting including a dog should translate to mean "Joyfulness."

with love,
Jessie Marianiello

"A Man and His Best Friend" :: Recently Completed, work of the heart

"A Man and His Best Friend" :: 38" x 56" Oil on Canvas :: Commission

Ta-daaaaaa!!! :) The portrait of sweet Willie (a German Shorthair Pointer) and his human companion, Terry, is hereby complete! Wow, such a perfect painting to work on during this extended northerly retreat. To me, this image is iconic--capturing the essence of this time I've been spending up here in the far reaches of Minnesota--a place where there isn't much more than water and woods and companionships of the deepest kind.

In the words of Thoreau, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Up here, I have found something of what I was looking for. Thank you Dr. Terry and Sue Johnson for inviting me into this project with you with such perfect timing. Thank you, Willie, for your gorgeousness, inside and out. The lakes, the sky, the expansiveness that exists in this part of the world--it causes me to breathe deep with immeasurable gratitude. This decision to come up here, it was a good one. ♥


Painting summer into being...(a late winter here in MN)


Putting some pants on...

The best part of the painting: The Delivery!!

with love,
Jessie Marianiello


Adventure, my companion...

Only one week left before I'm off to Europe and then Africa!! Chasing creative inspirations, drinking Spanish wines, breathing desert air, sleeping under stars, photographing Andalusian and Lusitano horses, capturing images of Moroccan street dogs, gathering the richness of life (a complete elixir of the senses) for several series of paintings that are brewing inside me with such deliciousness that I can barely stand the wait between now and bringing it all into being.

My dearest friends, I'd like to introduce you to my new pet rock: Her name is Adventure! I have a feeling we'll be traveling a long way together.

With love,
j.

Wild Horse Heart :: Visioning...


A spontaneous photo taken a moment ago after my computer's display went into "slide show" mode. I rarely use that old laptop and so the images it contains always catch me by surprise. The computer happened to be sitting on a stool in front of the easel--an accidental magic space where it is easy to imagine the translation from photograph to painting. For the past two years I've been working on a series of large scale wild horse paintings that will eventually culminate into a solo exhibition, "Wild Horse Heart." I've gotten quiet about this project, gone a bit underground with it, because I am realizing that there is a lot of inner work going on as these paintings slowly come into being. I guess you could say that this is my Spirit Work.

Looking at this image, my heart feels like it might leap out of my chest. I find myself needing to look away, if only for a moment. I walk across the room and look at it from far away because it feels easier. I love it when this happens. It is the feeling of joy, of expansiveness, of purpose.

I continue to paint myself into being. Recording my journey along the way in the form of photos and words. Every day a new part of myself seems to unravel, to open, to unfurl. Already, I am looking forward to returning to the remote mountains of Wyoming this summer. To spend more time with those wild horses. To saturate myself in the wildness of my own heart.

This life...it is such a mystery. Pulling me forward...
and forward...
...and forward.

with wild horse love,
Jessie


:: Northerly Painting Retreat 2012/13 ::

Featured! :: Minneapolis and Bemidji combined :: The best of all worlds!

Mpls/St.Paul Magazine :: April 2013 Issue

How perfect that I should be featured in an issue of the Mpls/St.Paul Magazine that's centered around the notion of ESCAPE! :) So much fun to experience both my urban and retreat worlds finding their way to the same page. Want to know my favorite places here in these northern reaches? Check out the April issue of the Mpls/St.Paul Magazine!

Many thanks to Christy DeSmith for a great article and to Travis Anderson for the featured photo! ♥

with lots of painterly love,
Jessie

:: Northerly Painting Retreat 2012/13 ::

From the Realm of Possibility...


Exactly one year ago today I left the center of the city to live in the middle of nowhere. I was following a big U-Haul filled with all my belongings, embarking on a self-imposed "Northerly Painting Retreat." I wanted to learn how to take better care of myself; I went seeking a space of quiet; and also to give myself full-heartedly to the tasks of my creative work. It was the beginning of a Free Fall that eventually turned into a New Beginning. I only planned on staying 6 months, but this life kept pulling me forward. Everything began to unfold in entirely new ways and I quickly realized that I was going to stay longer than initially planned. Oh, it is amazing just how much can change in a year!

Last night, I went and hung out with the horses. Dusk was settling over a deep winter snowscape. So quiet. Just horses and moonlight. Twice, there were bald eagles that flew right above our heads. I could hear their wings powerfully move the air as they flew. What a masterpiece of a moment--these moments that make me question why I would ever want to leave. Success is elusive. Those horses and eagles feel real. Is it possible to somehow have both? I have been very interested in that question lately.

These days, I find myself revising everything I once believed. Some of my old beliefs are limiting and no longer serve me. I am no longer the person I once was. Everything is brand new. And so here I am, one year later...with a whole life in front of me to make look any way I want. Following this thread into the unexpected space of yes...

With love from the realm of possibility,
Jessie



Edina friends in Bemidji!



Look who came to town! My friends, Officer Seeger and his canine companion Diesel, from the Edina K9 Police Force came all the way to Bemidji for a visit!

I had the great honor of painting Diesel this past December, for a special commission by Shepherd Data Services of Minneapolis in support of the Animal Humane Society. I love the ways that friendships and new connections are formed through the common love of dogs. Seeing these guys all the way up here in the far reaches of my Northerly Painting Retreat, well...it's icing on the cake! :)

May all dogs be happy!

with K9 painterly love,
Jessie


:: Northerly Painting Retreat 2012/13 ::

Dear Full-hearted Adventurous Life, I am yours.


Plane tickets to Spain and Morocco have hereby been purchased! Giving myself over to the mystery of my art. Dear full-hearted adventurous life, I am yours. ♥

"Go now and live. Experience. Dream. Risk. Close your eyes and jump. Enjoy the freefall. Choose exhilaration over comfort. Choose magic over predictability. Choose potential over safety. Wake up to the magic of everyday life. Make friends with your intuition. Trust your gut. Discover the beauty of uncertainty. Know yourself fully before you make promises to another. Make millions of mistakes so that you will know how to choose what you really need. Know when to hold on and when to let go. Love hard and often and without reservation. Seek knowledge. Open yourself to possibility. Keep your heart open, your head high and your spirit free. Embrace your darkness along with your light. Be wrong every once in awhile, and don't be afraid to admit it. Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. Tell the truth about yourself no matter what the cost. Own your reality without apology. See goodness in the world. Be bold. Be fierce. Be grateful. Be wild, crazy, and gloriously free. Be you. Go now, and live." ~Jeanette Leblanc

with my whole wild heart,
Jessie Marianiello

Roads to Recovery...


The things I saw in Mexico were both horrifying and beautiful, an experience of both heartbreak and inspiration, all at once. Thank you Ricardo, Lisa, Luna and everyone at Tierra de Animales for all the work you do for animals in need. ♥

I met some very beautiful beings during my time in Mexico--human, canine, and feline.  Over the course of the next couple weeks I will be editing photos taken during that time.  I look forward to sharing the journey with you.  In the meantime...


A wish with my whole heart: May all dogs be happy!!!

Tierra de Animales

:: Santuario Ecologico Animal de Cancun ::

In just a few short days I will be in Mexico, breathing in a vastly different reality than the one I'm currently surrounded by.  I am looking forward to collaborating with Tierra de Animales in an effort to raise money to help support their unbelievable rescue endeavors.  In the meantime, journey with me as I document my experience by following me...

MAY ALL DOGS BE HAPPY!

:: Tierra de Animales  ::  Land of Animals ::
Let your heart be broken open...
Learn more, Share, Support!

Rescue Info
Website: www.tierradeanimales.org

An Invitation Into the Mystery...

"What you seek is seeking you." ~Rumi

As is your desire, so is your will.
As is your will, so is your deed.
As is your deed, so is your destiny.
                      ~The Upanishads

This past year I decided to let myself free fall.  That is, it's been a time of simplifying my life to the greatest degree, a time of letting go and of handing myself over to the unknown.  In the process, I ended up reconnecting with my most essential self. It has been an important and deeply satisfying time, indeed.

I've spent most of the past year with both feet planted in the natural world--painting, deepening into the art of photography, spending time with horses, dreaming, writing, visioning--undoing an old self in order to make space for what's here now and whatever is on its way.  I feel rested.  I feel fueled.  More than anything, I feel PULLED towards something, a mysterious and expansive energy.  I know it when I feel it and each time it takes over my body and bones, I find myself saying YES! Within a short amount of time a whole lotta awesome started showing up.  Pulled, pulled, pulled...being pulled into the mystery, into that place of YES, into my deepest purpose, my truest self.


2013 is already geared up to include a helluva lot of adventure, plenty of travel and an incredible amount of creative growth.  I'm excited to see where all of this is leading, but am stepping into it with an open mind and a humble heart. 

On Friday I will be traveling to the Cancun/Mayan Riviera area of Mexico.  It was a decision made in one of those spontaneous moments of YES(!).  While in Mexico, you can bet that I will be soaking up the sun and salty air, but more importantly, I will be photographing street dogs and volunteering at an incredible animal rescue, Tierra de Animales.  I'm looking forward to it, but am also not sure what to expect.  I'm not new to the world of animal rescue, but something about this feels different. I'm not so sure I can do something like this and not be changed by it.

I recently painted a portrait of a dog named Mr. B.  He was a Caribbean street dog who was rescued and has since come to live with a wonderful family and lovable canine step-brother, Darby, in Minneapolis.  Mr. B sparked something in me.  He was skittish and nervous and yet, given time, he melted into a back massage like you wouldn't believe. Meanwhile, I have been hashing out the details of rebranding my business, discovering new aspects of being, and reconnecting with the oldest parts of myself, too.

My business name, Stray Dog Arts, is inspired by a black and white photograph that I took in Kathmandu--a bunch of street dogs sitting together on a stoop alongside a bustling road.  It has always been my intention to return to India and Nepal to paint those dogs. But somewhere along the lines, I got distracted.  My business took off and I found myself spending the majority of my energy running just to keep up with it!  Then I left on this Northerly Painting Retreat, decided to free fall and, through a winding series of events, have found myself returning full circle to my roots, to the roots of Stray Dog Arts.  Oh, such a homecoming this has been!

And yet...nothing is the same.  Everything is new.  I don't pretend to know anything except that I must continue to follow this pull.  When my spirit lights up, I will continue to say YES.

"Mr. B and Darby" :: 24" x 48" Oil on Canvas
Mr B (left); Darby (right)

In the coming months I will be traveling to Spain, Morocco, Wyoming and the Dakotas, New Mexico, New York City, New Orleans, as well as Mexico.  I'll be photographing horses, dogs and even people in preparation for future painted projects.  I'll be on an adventure of the spirit and, truth be told, I'm whole-heartedly handing myself over to the Universe on this one.

Something tells me that stepping into the unknown is the best decision I could possibly make.  I invite you to step in with me.

2013 Travel Schedule
Mexico :: February
NYC & Spain :: April
Morocco :: May
Wyoming & Dakotas :: July
New Mexico :: August
New Orleans :: September
NYC :: October

:: The Alchemy of Yes ::

Oh, this beautiful life.  It has led me on such a strange and awesome quest: For truth, rest, purpose, passion.  It's led me into the deepest lessons of self-care and creative exploration.  These past many months have been some of the best in my entire life.  In the spring of 2012, I packed up my home and studio and left behind the urban metropolis of Minneapolis in exchange for a self-imposed painting retreat in the far reaches of northern Minnesota.  I planned on being gone for six months and, at the time, it felt like the biggest risk imaginable. 

Instead, those six months turned into a time of incredible replenishment. I spent endless hours hiking the remote trails of the deepest woods with my three dogs.  I got good at collecting rain water and swimming in the lake.  I spent long mornings writing in my journal.  I went canoeing and chopped wood on a regular basis.  I learned how to eat healthy and sleep well.  I listened to loon-song and coyote calls.  I let myself be swept away by a night sky filled with a billion stars.

I immersed myself completely in the richness of this northerly experience. October came quickly. The leaves turned brilliant shades of orange, crimson and yellow.  They fell to the ground and, at about the same time, I also had to say goodbye to my old wolfie girl, Anu.  She was 14 years old and, despite everything, her passing was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced in this life.  She was a kindred of the truest kind and we had walked, what felt like, many lifetimes together.  Being half wolf, she taught me about wildness, but mostly...she taught me about LOVE.

:: Anu and I :: Photo credit: Sarah Beth Photography


There was a brilliant blue sky the day she crossed over--a single swift breeze and the lake turned into a million sparkles. These days, I still feel her presence near.  As the season continued to deepen, I hiked and painted and began to heal.  I couldn't help but notice all the ways that Anu had changed my life for the better. She had brought me home--to this place of wildness and woods, water and spirit.

I checked in with my internal compass and knew, without a doubt, that I was nowhere near being ready to leave!  Not to mention, business was continuing to flourish.  And so...I committed to turning my six month Northerly Painting Retreat into a super-extended 18 month retreat! And you know what?  It's the best thing that I could have ever done!  Funny how following your heart has a way of supporting you. ;)

(What's that?  You've been considering following the tugs of your own heart?  Uh-huh, yep...I say: GO FOR IT!)

Despite its warm weather attractiveness, the summer lake property is not quite suitable for winter living and so I decided to rent a tiny cabin at the top of a hill in the middle of a pine tree forest.  It's a magical place, complete with plenty of foxes, owls, dear, eagles...and (most importantly) two horses, Colorado and Dakota. Oh--this place, these horses--I am quite certain that I have died and gone to heaven!  My spirit feels at ease here.  Yes, this is love, of the truest kind!

The best part?  It doesn't seem to matter that I'm currently located in the middle of nowhere.  My professional (and personal) life has continued to grow in the most astonishing ways. Experiencing a deepening of spirit has a way of opening up entirely new worlds. I am refueled and inspired to the deepest degree and this coming year is proving to be creatively engaging, exciting, prolific, and adventure filled.  This self-created Northerly Painting Retreat has been a time of profound healing, creative exploration, self-discovery, physical well-being, and spirited connection.  I find myself stepping into a whole new chapter of my life in all the best possible ways and I am thoroughly excited to be sharing this journey with you. 

What I've come to understand is this: Nothing is on accident and the possibilities are truly astonishing!

"Tell me...what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"  ~Mary Oliver.

Northerly Painting Retreat 2012/13 :: My winter world

Thank you for being such an important part of my life!

With whole-hearted love and happiness,
Jessie


The Art of Philanthropy


Animal Rescue donations GALORE!! Yep, it's that time of year again! These boxes, filled with artwork and prints, will be sent to 501(c)3 organizations across the nation in order to help raise funds in support of the necessary and good work being done for animals in need.

I get hundreds of donation requests a year. The extent of need is staggering. This work...it is about so much more than simply painting pretty pictures.

May All Dogs Be Happy!!!!

with love from the Stray Dog Arts studio,
j

"Big Picture" Planning, Stray Dog Arts Style....

"The quieter you become, the more you can hear." ~Ram Dass

Today I'm doing some "big picture" planning for my travel, project and painting schedule in 2013. Getting quiet so that I can hear the pull. Entirely new ways of being, doing, creating and doing business are opening up. This is a photo I took last summer while in Wyoming and I'm excited to return again later this year to photograph more wild horses in preparation for later paintings. Mostly though, I'm simply hungry to infuse my spirit with their presence.

There will be lots more travel ahead of me in the coming year--both national and international. Mexico, Spain, Morocco, New York City, Wyoming, New Orleans, New Mexico... + the fast simmering and unfolding of several new projects. Making some bold decisions through the act of simply listening. I'll be posting updates on recently completed paintings in the near future, but for now I just wanted to share an image that contains the energy of my day. This is business planning, Stray Dog Arts style. ;)

with love from the studio,
j.


Creating from the Center of the Universe...


The sunset, at -14 degrees F, is enough to take my breath away. There isn't much up here, but what there is, I love. 

:: Northerly Painting Retreat 2012/13 ::


"In the Realm of Magic" :: {a photographic series}


Over the past few days I have given myself over to new territories and the multi-faceted tools of my trade. Although I most often create my final works of art with canvas, oil paints and a paint brush, I find myself becoming increasingly interested in how photography influences my journey towards a completed piece. I have dedicated the second half of January to experimentation and a sense of discovery. At times, I become frustrated with the limitations that separate me from the internal visions that I am striving for. There are the technicalities of the actual camera, lenses, winter temperatures, light, limited maneuverability and knowledge of the 1,000 pound beasts that I'm working with, editing processes and then, of course, realizing that I don't really know what I was even striving for in the first place. There are usually at least a dozen obstacles between the initial idea and the actual creation. It can be a bit disorienting at times! However, as a good friend and creative cohort recently reminded me: "If you don't try, you'll never know what could have happened." For a moment, I was doubtful, but she wisely jogged my brain cells on the importance of being open to new discoveries. And so, every day, that is what I've been doing. Tromping out into the snowy woods in negative degree temps with boots and scarf, long johns and my warmest jacket. My hands freeze and the camera occasionally fogs up. Colorado, the largest of the two horses, thinks the camera is incredibly interesting and keeps trying to stick his nose in the lens. Horse snot immediately freezes to the glass. There are shadows falling in all the wrong places. I'm freezing cold and fighting a fever...but, you know, despite everything that's not working, I am having the time of my life! I am lost, completely in the moment. I play with the camera settings; I convince the horses to follow me to a different area. I warm my hands in the black fur of their manes and muscular sun-warmed necks. The wind picks up and plays with the tendrils of their hair in a way that excites me. I keep trying. I keep wondering what will happen next. I remain in a state of curiosity, all of this while continuously taking a step or two or five outside of my comfort zone. I stumble upon intoxicatingly wonderful accidents. The horses move. The light shifts. An entire nexus of ideas take root in my brain, making my heart beat a little bit faster.

And this is why I do what I do. This is why I get swept away by the passion of creating art. I'm not so much creating art as I am creating a life. And, these days, it all seems to be taking place in the realm of magic. Believing in the words of Rumi: I let myself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what I really love, knowing that it will not lead me astray.

Strange Happiness Producing Festivities :: You're Invited!

On Your Mark; Get Ready; Set...GO!

Stray Dog Arts, in partnership with Bone Adventure, will be hosting a dog-friendly art extravaganza in tandem with the "Peddle Pub Races" in the River District of NE Minneapolis!

{"Dakota" :: 40"x30" :: Oil on Canvas :: SOLD}

I'm especially excited about spending the afternoon with you because, while on retreat in Northern Minnesota, this will be one of the very few events I'll be participating in this coming season. And let's face it: I MISS YOU!!! :)

mimosas, wine, beer...and DOG ART!

Let's spend a little time together and CELEBRATE our two-legged and four-legged art-centric FRIENDSHIPS!

Bring yourself, your dog, AND your friends!  My "Traveling Dog Show" will be displayed on the walls of The Bone Bone Room over the next several months.  Come and get a sneak peek of this gorgeous new space!  I will be hanging out ON LOCATION Sunday, June 10th...and I want to see you!! :)

The Bone Bone Room
 next door to Bone Adventure's NE location
{312 E. Hennepin}
Sunday, June 10th: Noon-5pm

"Eskimo Kisses," "Art for Dogs," "Lil' Portraits," greeting cards, prints and originals will be available for purchase.  Or maybe you've been thinking about commissioning a portrait of your four-legged friend? Well then...let's make some art together! :)

WOOF!
xoxoxo


Come for the ART.  Come for the FUN.
And, while you're at it, cheer on
 TEAM BONE ADVENTURE!

 See you at The Bone Bone Room
Sunday, June 10th!!!
Noon-5pm

Dedicated to The Art of Awesome(!),

Jessie Marianiello

Chop wood, carry water...and paint like there's no tomorrow!

I want to share with you a very favorite quote of mine. It's an attractive way of being that I've always been drawn to and, recently, have decided to live out to its fullest capacity.  It goes like this...

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life,and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

{the road to Everything :: Chippewa Nat'l Forest}
 On an unseasonably warm day in late March, I packed up my home and studio and headed in the direction of my heart. 

It is a life that I hope we are all willing to steer towards, despite risks. With our compasses pointed in the direction of NO REGRET, I'm glad to have you along with me on this next great adventure.




And so I suppose you're wondering: Where did I go and what am I up to NOW?!

Well...it FEELS like, SMELLS like, SOUNDS like, LOOKS like:

{the simple things. Follow me on Instagram @straydogarts}

This year, I decided to do something exceptional and head to the middle of nowhere, a seemingly far-away place in Northern Minnesota, for an extended 6 month painting retreat. Oh, sweet HEAVEN! 

The goal is multifaceted:
  • To simplify life to the utmost degree.
  • To catch up with a hearty dose of commissioned art work (which includes nearly 70 paintings!).
  • To also dive earnestly into my next big project, a series of large-scale wild horse paintings.
  • To sneak in a painting or two to replenish the quickly dwindling collection of non-commissioned canine/feline originals.
  • To hike, paint, swim, hike, snuggle dogs, paint, paint, hike, hike, swim, paint, snuggle dogs, hike, swim, paint, paint, paint.... :)
  • To replenish, refill, and NOURISH--body, mind, and spirit!
  • To enjoy falling deeply in love with my life.  
  • To get quiet with my heart.
  • To read a few books.
  • To savor a thick blanket of stars, loon-song, and the crackle of the camp fire--all in one startling magnificent dose!
  • To, once again, become close friends with my essential self.
  • To chop wood, carry water...
  • And, mostly, to simply breathe in a whopping dose of quiet while doing all of the above.
Oh, but there's one other reason: BECAUSE I CAN!!! :)

Last year, while traveling to photograph horses out west, I realized that I am lucky enough to be able to work from almost anywhere.  And so...I've decided to take advantage of it! 

In short, I'm simply going to take awhile to live the dream life. ;) 

While on retreat, I'll continue traveling to Minneapolis (and beyond) for photoshoots on a semi-regular basis. But mostly...I'll be here. Lakeside. With these great big studio doors WIDE OPEN. Listening to the birds and the breeze and the snuggle-puffin sounds of my sun-bathing dogs.

All I can say is that it so insanely beautiful here that I'm already feeling inspired and REVIVED in about a million ways. 

I love city life, too.  But honestly...how can you blame me for packing up my paint brushes and heading out on such a blissfully long-winded retreat when the view from my new studio looks like THIS:

{lakeside retreat in Northern Minnesota, with Louie (my love)}

  
May all dogs by happy!
...and may the fire always burn brightly.


With enormous amounts of four-legged painterly passion from the middle of nowhere,
Jessie

My little corner of the world...

Waking from Wild Horse dreams. This is my bedroom (I live in a very small nest).

Last night I took down a portion of my recent Wild Horse Heart {sneak peek} show at CorAzoN. My studio and home is full to the brim with artwork and so, with nowhere else to go with everything, I hung the biggest photographs on the walls surrounding my bed. OH MY! It was enough to make my heart pound a little faster! :) All three of my dogs immediately hopped into bed and didn't want to leave. They were loving the new additions to the room. It was only 8:30pm (I rarely go to bed before midnight), but jumped into bed right along with them. The room was filled with an intoxicating amount of wild horse energy and the stormy sounds of rain and ice hitting the window outside. Inside, we were nestled quite contentedly under the covers.

As I laid there, I realized how profoundly my dreams have come true. Surrounded by horses and so much love. This little corner of my world: It is a powerful place to be. Electric. Breathtaking. Healing. Wild horse medicine, I love you. Strange, invigorating. I am grateful.

with a wild horse heart,
Jessie

Painterly Highs...


Laying in the supplies! Went on my bi-annual canvas shopping spree yesterday in preparation for upcoming commissions. Stacking them 2 deep and 2 high--and this isn't even all of them! Thank god for vertical storage? Painterly highs! :)

It's days like this that cause me to step back and enjoy the way my life looks.

Big love,
Jessie
xo

{with great amounts of love and painterly passion} Now Offering...

"Into the Mystic" :: 48" x 72" :: Original Oil on Canvas :: Wild Mustang
(photo by Tu Shea Images)


After several years of wishing, wanting, and dreaming it into being (since the birth of Stray Dog Arts!), I am now offering original domestic and wild horse painted portraiture and custom equine commission opportunities.

I've had a love affair with horses for as long as I can remember. To spend time with these magnificent beings and bring them to life on canvas is very much a dream come true.

Original commissioned horse paintings are available, oil on canvas, large-scale sizes only. Custom Fine Art Equine Photography is also available on a limited basis. Travel per diems apply to all out-of-state and international travels. My wild horse heart welcomes adventure. :)

As an artist, I am in a wonderfully deep space of growth and evolution. Whether painting horses, dogs, cats, or humans--I paint from a place of both spirit and heart, honoring the connections made along the way.

Looking forward...to everything.

Yours truly,
Jessie
xoxo

~

Informal Artist's Reception :: Wild Horse Heart {sneak peek} :: You're Invited!


You're Invited!

To a SNEAK PEEK showing of...
:: WILD HORSE HEART ::
Recent Photographic Works by Jessie Marianiello

On display at CorAzoN thru February 28th, 2012
{select pieces on display thru March 20th, 2012}

~Informal Artist's Reception~
Thursday, Feb. 23rd :: 5-8pm
CorAzoN
4646 East Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Important note:
this is a small retail setting and, therefore,
SPACE IS LIMITED!

This most recent body of work comes from a very deep and expansive place. Even though it is still in progress as I work towards a more extensive show, I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to share the process as I journey through it. I am forever grateful for the horse medicine that I have experienced and continue to experience as I move forward in my art (and life). It comes from a place of vulnerability, but also a place of strength. You can read the full Artist's Statement here.


May all wild horses be happy!
~

WILD HORSE HEART {sneak peek} :: Recent Photographic Works by Jessie Marianiello

Artist's Statement:

"How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult time we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we're meant to be." ~Elizabeth Lesser

While in the midst of chaos and crisis (or even everyday life), it is easy to lose your footing. This past year, through the process of divorce, I most certainly lost mine. And yet, somehow, I managed (however haphazardly) to find my way towards some sort of balance between stillness and movement--it is both that I needed, after all. In the beginning, however, I was at times consumed by those horribly black nights when fear and uncertainty and more fear would grip me tighter than I had ever before known. Those were the darkest of times and it was in those moments I learned a very important question:

"What will make me feel better?"

The question would rise jaggedly into the night. And, each time, I was met with the same answer: "Horses." Strange, yes, I know. Horses were a stretch; they were not even a part of my day to day life. But some wise part of myself knew and understood. With the question came an answer and with the answer came an unquestionable space of relief. Over and over I followed myself to that open space. It was a space of healing. By night, I gave myself over to my horse-filled imagination. By day, I took both big and small steps to turn those imaginings into a reality.

A simple question led me to a simple answer that led me on a month long cross-country adventure. I was in search of wild horses and, in the process, I found myself. These images are a product of that adventure--an adventure that is still playing itself out. It seems strange to become so unexpectedly thankful for heartbreaks, but I am. I am thankful that my world fell apart and that it forced me to break open in order to find my truest, deepest rhythm once again. These horses are healers.

Currently, I am in the process of creating one of my largest solo exhibitions to date--and these photographic images are only the beginning. My future exhibition, Wild Horse Heart, will include both photographic and large-scale painted horse imagery. For now, I am honored to share a sneak peek of these first photographs with you. It is my hope that they will awaken your own wild horse heart. These horses have gifted me with grace, freedom, and immense healing. I hope they will do the same for you.

With a wild horse heart,
Jessie Marianiello, Stray Dog Arts

~
Showing exclusively at CorAzoN thru Feb 28th, 2012
(select pieces showing thru March 20th)
4646 East Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406
~

01.04.12 :: Featured in the Star Tribune! :: 1.2 Million Readers Aint Bad!


Me. My studio. My dogs. And a whole lotta painting! This photo was taken by the fun and immensely talented, Tom Wallace. I live a colorful life filled with more love than I often know what to do with. I'm grateful because I know I'm one of the lucky ones: my livelihood comes from something I am passionate about.

I haven't had a lot of time for blogging in the past year because I've been so busy painting, photographing, adventuring and, of course, doing all the things that one does to make a business tick. I also do things like build soft blanket nests at my feet, a place for my dogs sleep as I work. I drink coffee while standing in the sunshine with a paint brush in my hand. Sometimes I paint all through the night...until the sunrises the next morning...because I get on a roll and just can't seem to stop. Many of my clients become lifelong friends. And it never ceases to amaze me how deeply every single dog or cat or horse that I've ever painted somehow changes me for the better. It seems sort of unbelievable that I'm already booked into summer of 2013 and that I've just booked my next solo exhibition for 2014!

In short, life has been full to the point of bursting. But I'll tell you...I really want to slow down just enough to sit down and write about it once in awhile. ;) There's so much that is happening behind the scenes: with each painting, each person and animal I meet, each cross-country flight, each spark, each brushstroke, each inspiration.... Life goes speeding by, oh, but wouldn't it be nice to simply sit down with it and turn it into words once in awhile? My blog could use a dog pile of love--and so I hope to see you here more often in the coming months. After all, there is SO much to share!!! :)

In the meantime, I hope that 2012 is treating you in all the right ways. I look forward to everything that is to come!

xo,
Jessie

ps.
You can read the full Strib article here. Sharing it better late than never? ;)



well, hellloooooo out there!

It's been pretty quite around here at this ol' blog. Not for lack of things to say, but precisely the opposite! So much goodness has been happening in my art-filled life these past many months. I look forward to getting back onto the saddle of blogging in the near future.

In the meantime, happy day to you!!! I'm hereby taking the feather duster to the Stray Dog Arts blog.

May all dogs (and cats and horses and YOU!) be happy!!

~

Inerviewed:

I just stumbled upon this interview from April of 2010 in the files of my computer. By golly, I don't even remember who the interview was with, but I loved reading it and can't help but share it again here! Since this interview, there are some things that have evolved, but at the core of my work, at its essence, there is still that same feeling--a sense of satisfaction and purpose that is just beyond language. Distill it down and there is a word for it and it is: LOVE.

Enjoy the interview!


1. What inspired/motivated you to want to do this?
You can read more about what inspired me to do this by visiting my artist statement, here.

2. When did you do your first animal painting? When did you sell your first painting?
I painted my first dog in January, 2008. I showed my first series of dog paintings in March of the same year. Half of those portraits sold and I received several new commissions in the process. I sold my first painting in 2003 during my Senior Art Exhibition, a requirement for my art degree. I also gathered steam by selling on Etsy, an online artist's site, did mural painting, and also worked as the in-house artist at Wild Rumpus, a strange and wonderful children's bookstore in Minneapolis.

3. How do you market yourself?
Bark magazine, postcards, partnerships with other businesses, networking, social media (facebook and twitter), Etsy, Flickr, blogging, art fairs, events, and art exhibitions in public spaces. I also sell my work (originals and products) in retail spaces and boutiques. Branding, authenticity and product eye-candy goes an amazingly long way. A lot can be done--even on a tight budget. I love watching things come to life. I put a lot of effort into marketing partially because it's so important, but also because it's something I really enjoy.

4. Where do your 'clients' come from?
When starting out, I had clients from all over the country. California, New York, Florida...all over. Internationally, I've painted for clients in Ireland, Canada, and Australia. However, over the last year, the majority of my clients are from the Minneapolis area. This is largely due to projects that focus on particular neighborhoods in the Minneapolis area. I love getting to meet the dogs and their companions in person as well as take my own photos. Because of this, I've realized how much I enjoy painting locally and, therefore, have shifted my energy and marketing accordingly. Who knows, this will probably continue to evolve. I'm beginning to imagine more travel in my future. For now, I have more than enough to keep me busy right here.

5. What type of animals have you painted?
I mostly paint dog portraits, but really enjoy painting cats as well. I am endlessly inspired by the unique qualities of dogs. As for cats, well, I love their beautiful eyes. To date, dogs and cats are the extent of my painted animal menagerie. I've also been wanting to start painting horses for quite some time now, but have been so busy painting dogs that there just hasn't been time to do so. Everything happens at the right time though. I think the idea of painting horses has been incubating, slowly making itself visible in my mind's eye. Whatever I'm painting, it's a lot of fun to see the work evolve--both inwardly and outwardly.

6. How many painting do you average in a week?
I've come to terms with the fact that the paintings come in waves. There is a lot more to being a full time artist than simply making art--much more than most people realize. At any given time I am managing over 50 commissions, emails, marketing, bookkeeping, phone calls, event planning, project preparation, errand running, packaging and shipping, online shop management...um, you know, pretty much the whole gambit of what makes a business tick successfully. I tend to get really focused and will work really hard on the business end of things for several days or even a couple of weeks and do the same with painting. I work well under pressure and with deadlines and do my best to structure a time-line that works with everything else that's going on. Switching things up like this keeps things fresh for me. When I'm away from the studio for any length of time, it always feels especially good to get back to the paint. I average about 75 paintings a year, many of which are quite large. Not sure how many I paint per week, but I'm pretty sure that this is what they mean by "prolific." :)-

7. How long do most paintings take?
Anywhere from a couple days to a week, or even a month. I tend to work in long stretches with lots of tiny breaks throughout. It's not unusual for me to paint for 12-18 hours a day. I didn't start out being able to work this way, but it's become a habit that I actually enjoy. I get in a groove and want to see it through. I've also come to accept the fact that I can't put a number to how many hours it takes me to do a painting. There are too many variables--the dog's hair, the lighting, the colors, the background details, the size. In art school I was taught to be able to track my time, but I've given up. A painting might take me anywhere from 10-40 hours or more--except when it doesn't. ;)

Working mostly on commission adds another element to the whole notion of time. I need to factor in emails, photo shoots, phone consultations, canvas prep, drawing and all the other things that go into a painting before I even pick up a brush. All said and done, a commissioned painting can be anywhere from several months to a year in the making. It's a pretty cool process, actually. A lot of relationship building happens in that time and by the time I'm done with an animal's portrait, I truly feel like their life has affected mine in a very deep and meaningful way.

8. Are there any paintings you have done that have especially touched your heart?
There are several dogs that have had an extremely profound effect on me, my life, and the direction of my art. But, over all, I have to say that I truly fall in love with every single animal that I've painted. I'm a sucker for dog-love and it catches me off guard every time. Sometimes I wonder how it's possible to love this much. Through painting, I get to know an animal on a very deep level and, because of this, I suffer from love-overwhelm. Sometimes I'm afraid I might melt or explode or disintegrate, but it's an occupational hazard that I'm totally willing to live with.

9. Describe some of the emotions you feel while painting.
Love. The most consistent and powerful emotion that I feel while painting is, by far, love. I often feel the love that the animal has for his or her human companion as well as the love they have for each other. It's pretty amazing actually. As weird as it might sound, I truly feel that, through painting, I become a conduit for the emotions of the animal I'm painting. Sometimes I feel a sense of gentleness. Other times I feel happiness, playfulness, inquisitiveness, sweetness...whatever the animal seems to be feeling, I feel it too. Beneath any of these emotions is always love--and that is something I never, ever get tired of.

10. How, on a bad day, do you stay motivated to continue working to meet your deadlines?
I just don't allow bad days to derail me. I wasn't always like this, but my love for what I do is stronger than the curve balls that bad days might throw at me. I've taught myself to move through whatever might threaten to hold me back--whether it be tiredness, frustration, anxiety, apathy, rain, barking dogs, telemarketers...it doesn't matter. Focusing on those things only makes it worse and if I waited around for perfect conditions, I'd never get anything done. Anyway, I usually find that the work itself tends to fix anything that is throwing me off course. I also find that it helps me to stay inspired and motivated by paying attention to little pleasures such as the smell of a fresh cup of coffee, the muffle-puffin sounds of snoring dogs, or my sun-drenched workbench. If all else fails, a walk in the woods with the dogs or a double espresso will usually put me back in workable groove. That groove is nice place to be and is easier to reach the more I practice it.

11. How has pursuing this dream changed your life?
More like: how hasn't it changed my life? Oy! Pursuing my dream and watching it succeed has made it impossible for me to even consider anything less than fully living my purpose. To be honest, it can be kind of scary--after all, I have a lot to lose now that I've experienced what it feels like to be living and working from the center of my heart. Pursuing my dream has required a hearty combination of determination and inspiration. It has also taught me that everything is possible--for anyone. First we need to imagine it. Then we need to take action. I am constantly nudging myself forward into new territory. It is exhaustive and exhilarating all at once! Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "Do one thing every day that scares you." Those are words I live by. Those are the words that changed my life and pushed me to start living my dream. There's no going back now!

 





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