Custom portrait and figurative watercolor paintings on Aquabord portraying the multidimensional connection we have with our dogs. In the coming months, please look forward to the release of more paintings in this series.
Just Armed with Love
12" x 12" watercolor aquabord clay panel, deep cradle sold
Ken and Paige in Just Armed with Love
Just a dog…
I hear this said as if that’s a small thing. The way I understand it, those words, just a dog, are measureless. Measureless and just larger than life… and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way.
I think you do too…
I see it in the photos of your dog’s face that flood your online presence. I see it when you and your dog jog by my house early in the morning before you go to work. I see it when I walk by your house and your son and dog are playing ball in the front yard. I see it when you sit behind the wheel of your pickup truck idling next to mine and your dog sits behind you happily watching a squirrel run by the open window. I see it at the ice cream shop where you’re in front of me in line buying two ice cream cones, one for you and one for your dog. I see it when you have to slow your jog to a walk because your dog can no longer keep up. I see it in the photos of your dog’s greying face that flood your online presence. I see it at the veterinary hospital where you sit with your dog, keeping your face lowered to hide your tears, knowing you will be going home alone.
I can say I am blessed that I do understand the measure of just a dog. I am blessed my work is supported by beautiful individuals who have this innate love for their dogs. So, we - the dogs and their significant others and me, the artist – are sharing a little bit of ourselves with you. And I am thankful for the chance to open my heart with you here in my watercolor series,
11" x 14" watercolor aquabord clay panel, deep cradle $825.00
Aerin with Nym, Duncan and Coco in Just New Beginnings
For me, there’s this apprehension in opening my heart to the uncertainty of new beginnings.
There are some things I’m sure of. I’m sure the rain makes the flowers grow. I’m sure the sun burns if you get too close. I’m sure the angels walk this earth beside us. But I’ve never been sure how to begin again... to know how much a heart can hold…
So, when Aerin told me “this [moment in the painting] was Duncan and Nym’s first weekend home” with her, I think I finally understood. “Coco, in the background, is a 15 year old rescue. A few months earlier, we all felt the profound sorrow of losing our oldest and most dear Italian Greyhound, Buckley. I was devastated. I couldn’t get out bed for days. When I held Duncan, I realized he had a tiny heart marking on his rear leg. I knew then that my beloved Buckley had sent him - and her - to me and this moment was the feeling of new love filling our home and our hearts.”
Maybe there are no beginnings and no ends. Maybe a love this great is limitless… Maybe our hearts are meant to hold an immeasurable weight…
10" x 8" watercolor aquabord clay panel, deep cradle $700.00
Guilio and Jazz in Just Me Too
Do you ever wish just to be in the moment? To put down your cell phone, turn off your TV, delete your social media and just be? Me too…
I guess being in a world where traditional ways of living have been disrupted by texting, reality TV and social media, it blinds me temporarily and I lose sight of what’s really important. In the large realm of things, what’s important is being in the moment…
Jazz knows all about this. Penny relayed how “Jazzy and his littermate SicilyRose were inseparable from the day we got them. His nickname was “Me Too”. He was such a goof and so affable and so silly that whatever SicilyRose (or anyone else) wanted to do it was always, “okay, me too”, resulting in his nickname. Jazz nearly died when he was a year old, he was in ICU for a week near death. I asked our vet if I could bring SicilyRose to see him. We swear to this day she told him all the fun things she was planning and he said, “me too”, think I’ll choose life too.”
I think I’ll choose life too. Afterall, who really cares if the cell phone’s ringing or if the TV program is missed or if the latest social media update isn’t seen? Is that really living? Living is being in the moment with the ones you love; sharing those moments together as often as you can until you no longer can.
Do you ever wish just to be in the moment? Me too…
12" x 12" watercolor aquabord clay panel, deep cradle $825.00
Leah and Otis in Just Love on Its Own Terms
For me, I love deeply and completely. Sometimes I forget that love is individual and comes on its own time and on its own terms. Inevitably, it changes life as it once was. Sometimes without consequence. Sometimes with challenges. But every time with change.
I think Leah explains this perfectly. “Otis changed the dynamics of our family life. [He and our Italian Greyhound] love each other, protect each other, get jealous of each other (and boy don’t we hear about that!)... Sometimes it’s adorable, sometimes it’s frustrating as hell! They couldn’t be more different but they make it work. My relationship with Otis can be like that too. [He] doesn't like to be grabbed and cuddled. He likes those on his own terms. So when he comes over to you and buries his head into your body asking for cuddles, those are my favorite times. I love him dearly and would have an Otis shaped hole in my life without him.”
And so, on its own time and on its own terms and with change comes a love that is perfect, not in spite of imperfections but because of them.
12" x 12" watercolor aquabord clay panel, deep cradle $825.00
Annabelle with Dark Sunshine and Java Jive in Just Loves Enough
I’ve never much been captivated with grand events. Instead, the little things often missed in those fleeting moments are what have impacted my life the most.
When I started this painting of Annabelle and the puppies, her mama, Megan expressed how “Annabelle is absolutely delighted about this painting. She said, ‘Mama, someone loves Mimi’s puppies kissing me enough to want to paint it!!’ ” How right she was that someone loves it enough! “We’ve shared the [painting] process with her, bought her a little set of watercolors to paint with - only [Annabelle] paints her dinosaur toys!”
I’m sure years from now, Annabelle will remember the excitement of those joyful times with Mimi’s puppies. She may faintly recall some painting that some artist painted of her and the puppies. She might even remember watercolor painting her dinosaur toys! As with much of childhood and the passing of time, new moments and new memories will be in the forefront of her mind and her heart, as they should be.
But for me, I love it enough that this won’t be easily forgotten. That fleeting moment captured in watercolor - the excitement of puppy bundles of fur with four paws, hair tugging and face kissing, and a little girl with golden windblown hair…
8” x 10” watercolor aquabord clay panel, deep cradle $700.00
Mandi and Remington in Just the Size of Faith
Those who know me well know I can’t do much without being completely and emotionally engaged. While I’m grateful for this empathetic nature, it complicates many aspects of my life - one being my work in art. For me, emotion is vital for my paintings, but too much emotion renders me useless. I fall apart and can’t move forward. This particular painting has been one of those paintings. I remember years ago, my father telling me how important it is to believe in something greater than you. It can be anything – the sun, the stars, the oak tree, your father, God - just as long as you look outside yourself; to always remember there is someone or something greater than yourself. Mandi’s story is one of honesty, courage, strength, trauma, fear, pain… but most of all… faith. Her story depicts the size of faith…
“[My dog] Remington came into my life in April of 2017.
In January 2018 when I was 39 years old, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive triple negative breast cancer. I had 8 rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy over the course of 24 weeks. To say I was sick is an understatement. I had every complication possible.
During my diagnosis stage, my oncology team decided that I could not work during my treatment. It was really hard being home at first. I felt like I was not pulling my weight in my family. These feelings were soon overwhelmed by my serious illness. I continually held on to my faith, that God was greater than my highs and lows. And, I continually held on to my dog. My Remington. She stayed with me 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It didn’t matter to her if I was in bed all day. She was right there with me. Taking a shower? She waited on the bath rug. Using the restroom, she was at my feet. Gone 12 hours for chemo? That precious girl ran to me the moment I got home. She was a constant companion during my treatment.
I was not concerned about my hair loss at my diagnosis. In fact, I cut it all off to the scalp before my first chemo and donated it to Wigs for Kids. It was my way of exercising some control. I wanted something good to come of the hair loss. However, no one prepared me for the fact that I would wake up from [bilateral mastectomy] surgery completely flat. And I really struggled. I was bald and I was fat and I had no breasts. I had gained a ton of weight on chemo. This was caused by tons of steroids they had to pump into me because I was allergic to the chemo. I had a hard time at first. I didn’t recognize myself. Clearly, I am still adjusting to my new normal.
It is December now, I have had many fills of my breasts at this point. I am still not back to my original size. I am closer. My hair is slowly coming in. But, I still struggle to see me in there. I am still fat. I still have super short hair. Strangers still stare. I am adjusting to this new normal. My body is not healed yet. I have a lot of pain still. With each ache, I wonder, do I have a new cancer yet? I have to reel all that in though. God is good all of the time. And I am alive. And I am in remission. I am strong. And I am not going to just survive this; I plan to thrive through this. I have a husband, 2 children, a dog, and a family and friends that love me. I just need faith. The size of my faith does not matter. It is a yes or no question. Have ye any faith? Yes. I do. God is good all of the time. Even when we cannot see it.
I have just returned to work. I am not sure if this was harder on me or Remington. She has become accustomed to me being home all the time. We are adjusting to this new normal. Onward. We move onward. Together.”
To my dad who is a survivor and who instilled in me the importance of believing in someone greater than myself no matter the size of faith and in honor of those who have battled or are continuing to battle any form of this disease…
12" x 12" watercolor aquabord clay panel, deep cradle private collection
Daune & Paige in Just the Way I Love You
The lights went out last night, long before I turned them off. It was still dark when I opened my eyes this morning.
I didn’t see you stretched out across Ken's side of the bed. I didn’t see your little face on the pillow next to mine or those silly ears poking out from beneath the blankets. The ears that never quite behaved the way they should (am I so happy they never did).
I went down the stairs to start the laundry today and didn’t hear the tell-tale sound of you rummaging through your many toy boxes for that morning toy, almost always your elephant, who you’d carry out to the rug. The elephant, I told you every time, is an outside elephant and too heavy to throw in the house. I started the vacuum without the help of your little paw pressing hard on the button until the whirring sound of the motor begins. You weren’t there to drop the tiny-one ball for me to catapult across the floor with the head of the vacuum like a hockey puck. I wasn’t able to continue work on my watercolor painting. How could I? You were my inspiration. And you always let me know when I’d worked long enough with a tap-tap of your two-handed touch on the stool next to me mine – Time’s up!
The Elefun Playskool Popper Toy didn’t trumpet his song today. You weren’t there to fill it, always choosing the purple balls, or start it with a raucous of noise of balls popping and bouncing in every direction. The miniature bowling pins stood at attention, like little sentries, waiting for you to push the bowling ball that never came across the floor to send those pins spinning for a strike. Any spare left standing wouldn’t be for long. The little toy hamster, encased in his blue plastic ball, sat silent, not rolling or bumping into the cabinets or walls. There was no slingshot countdown in threes, no snap of the elastic making contact with the ball to rocket it across the room… always with you never far behind.
Like me, partly deflated, your tie-dye colored titanic-ball seemed to lose air overnight. There was no bottom up in a ready-stance, no adjusting your little soccer just right to aim for that titanic set up on the floor to score. You’d roll your ball with the speed enough to knock titanic to its side. Last time I counted, eleven times in a row you scored. You weren’t there to show-off how to throw your ball without using hands, pumping your little head up and down, like a baseball pitcher pumps his arm, in anticipation of how far and how fast you’re going to throw that ball. All the way across the room to me! We didn’t play those games where we took turns mirroring - I do it first and then you; you do it first and then me - but mostly you took a turn even when it wasn't your turn. You could be a cheater like that. And oh…your beast-faces, how I laughed. Of course, that only caused those faces to multiply and accompany nearly everything you did!
The window seat was empty, when Ken came home from work today. No new nose prints on the glass. You weren’t there to make me a little bit jealous, the way you saved your shy-girl act, most especially for him. We didn’t take that short drive to the school yard or the track. I didn‘t watch you strut alongside me to pick that perfect spot out on the lawn for the first throw of the day. Every day is a perfect day for Chuck-it. I missed seeing you and Ken sit on the lounge together later that afternoon. You weren’t there to remind us to take that Friday night ice cream drive.
Tiger-tails, bear-ears and bunny-ears sat, all in a row, alone on the lounge waiting, but you never came… I couldn’t bring myself to sit on the couch tonight knowing you wouldn’t be there to talk about our day. You weren’t there for me to put to bed or play that silly bedtime game – the one with your face peeking at me from between two back legs, your half-upturned wrinkled nose with a tiny tip of tongue, much like a crooked smile, and your tail in perpetual motion.
The nightlight on the wall cast an angel’s halo of light, bathing the place your bed last lay. I hold your blanket to my chest and hear my own heartbeat, but not yours. And if I try hard enough, I think I still feel your tender pokes to the lips and I remember how when I looked in your eyes, I could see me reflected back. How will I ever see me without you?
How could I have known everything would change except the way I love you?
11” x 14” watercolor aquabord clay panel, deep cradle $825.00
Mathilde and Levi in Just Play Along
Sometimes in life you just play along. There might be a movie showing at the theater starring an actor you’re not a fan of but you watch it anyway. There might be a song on the radio streaming lyrics you stumble on but you sing along anyway. There might be a game you never win at but you play along anyway. Sometimes you do this because the one you love most is the biggest fan of the actor in that movie or knows every word to that song on the radio or always wins at that game. You do this because being together is more important than any of those other things.
I think Levi feels this way about Mathilde, especially after her mother explained to me how “earlier this week [Mathilde] told me Levi snuck into her room and sat at the door watching her. She said she told him he could stay a little while, but that he stayed a long time. She likes to play with him and he plays along. For example, he’ll sit and watch her do her puzzle or color even though he can’t actually do the puzzle or color with her. It’s incredibly sweet to see them together.”
Sometimes there’s that special someone who makes your head turn when calling you by an endearing nickname that you’d never turn your head for with anyone else. “When Mathilde was learning to talk, she started calling Levi, ‘Sheesh’. We think it’s because she couldn’t say chien [dog] in French. It stuck, but he only answers to her when she calls him Sheesh. If we call him Sheesh, he puts his ears back and looks at us like we’re nuts.”
Maybe if we could all just play along sometimes and be a little bit more like Levi, the world would be a better place.