Stray Dog Arts

island dogs and gauguin dreams...

I recently 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.

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?



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