Stray Dog Arts

Chloe and Scout :: shine on, sweet love

12"x 16" :: Oil on Canvas

It's been such a great weekend...and one of the best parts was delivering two paintings of two very loved Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Scout and Chloe, to a very wonderful St. Paul couple, Julie and Tomkin. Gosh, where to begin?

Well, how about I begin by saying that I love Chloe. I're probably not even taking me seriously anymore when I say that, but it's true! Sometimes I wonder what I'm going to do with all this love. It feels heavy and expansive and there are moments, like now, that I feel like my heart might burst! Woe is me; life is tough when one of your biggest problems is an over-abundance of love. I think my heart gained a 1,000 pounds this week.

Chloe and I
photo credits: Tomkin Coleman

Chloe is the biggest, calmest, most beautiful sweetheart in the world. Not to mention, she's also a great communicator--without speaking a word. I think that's one of the things that I love most about her (along with her soulful eyes, gentle energy and gorgeous physique!). Chloe speaks with her eyes--an entire language-- expressed by the subtlest of movements, and often using her tail to accentuate varying levels of happiness. Just a slight movement in the end half of her tail, the tiniest lifting of an eyebrow--it's all it takes--movements that say everything. And the best part? Her parents, Julie and Tomkin, understand her as perfectly as she understands them. Their relationship with each other is a beautiful thing to behold.

I could have hung out in the peacefulness of their glowing home all day long. And when I say it glows, I mean it. Sure, it was an exceptionally sunny day, but something about their place seems to shine from the inside out. I believe that dogs, like people, are filled with such amazing potential. I love seeing how Julie and Tomkin help Chloe to shine so brightly--and I also loved witnessing how brightly Chloe makes Julie and Tomkin shine!

me (left) and Julie (right)
Happy (belated) Birthday, Julie!
photo credits: Tomkin Coleman

It felt so good to see Chloe again, especially after painting her portrait. I gently pet her head and neck as we all sat around chatting. Of course I fell in love with her even more as I watched her eyes get heavier and heavier until she nearly fell asleep. Bliss. I wished I could take her home with me...but this is one lucky dog that most certainly doesn't need a new home.

Chloe and Scout's portraits were commissioned as a 40th birthday present from Tomkin to Julie. Julie has a business called Before Your Wedding Day offering premarital counseling and education classes; her husband, Tomkin, is a minister. I only wish he could have officiated my husband and my wedding--but that was before we knew him! I've really grown to like both Julie and Tomkin in the process of working with them. They are so beautifully made for each other! It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know them. Not to mention, I love birthdays! I especially love getting to be a part of such a special gift. It just never loses its luster for me! Julie's actual birthday was way back in October, but they waited oh-so-patiently for the paintings of their babes to be completed.

Although it was great to finally get to see Chloe again, I never got the honor of meeting Scout. His portrait was done in memory. Julie and Tomkin chose the perfect photo for me to work from. Even though I never met Scout, through painting, I feel like I got to know him just as if I had met him in person. Scout makes me feel happy. With that smile and that crazy bright red fire chief hat, how could a person not feel happy in such a presence?! ha!

16"x 12" :: Oil on Canvas

While in my studio, every time I looked at his painting, I couldn't help but break into a great big smile--and his portrait had the same effect on my husband. Scout's smile is infectious and, although he might not be here in body, his spirit is alive and well.

I enjoyed every single second of painting both Chloe and Scout's portrait. After a hugely busy spring, summer, fall, holiday season and, well, past two years, I took a two week break after the holidays to regroup, refuel and take care of a few behind-the-scenes details that had been crying for my attention for months. Taking that break was exactly what I needed. In returning to my studio to work on Chloe and Scout's paintings, I felt myself return to myself. With the turn of 2010, I felt something inside of me shift. This year I've decided to take better care of myself--and, strangely, painting Scout and Chloe has been part of a much larger learning process.

In 2008, Stray Dog Arts took off with lightening speed and has only gained momentum since. I have loved every bit of it. And yet I am beginning to understand how important it is to pay attention to my own internal rhythms. I am, after all, only human. These days, no matter how busy things might be on the outside, I've decided to take it a bit slower and easier on the inside. It's a state of mind, really--but it requires some self-care to make it work. I practiced this new way of thinking and being as I painted Chloe and Scout's portraits--and this has been the most healing month I've had in a long, long, long time.

Sometimes it amazes me how the dogs I paint become so deeply ingrained into my own personal history. It amazes me how important each dog is and how much I'm changed in the course of painting their portrait. Chloe and Scout are two beautiful beings that have permanently altered the molecules in my brain and heart--and, for that, I am thankful. I needed a bit of a rearranging. ;)

My wish for Julie is that she will have the most incredible year she's ever experienced. I am wishing that for us all.

with peace and dog love,


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