Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sentimental Painting of a Friend's Beloved Dog

For many people, their dogs are important members of their family. They are constant companions providing laughter, joy and sometimes the occasional cleanup on aisle 6. The messes they make of our houses is far outweighed by the unconditional love they share with us.

My friends, David and Kimberly, had just lost their black lab, Cheyenne, to cancer after a long struggle. Anyone who has lost a special pet knows how hard it is to say goodbye. This feeling of loss can linger.

Later that year, the couple became pregnant with their first child. As a thoughtful surprise, David wanted to give his wife a "push present" before the birth. He asked me to make a painting for her based on her favorite snapshot of Kimberly and her dogs from many years ago.

I would not consider myself a painter... at least not a good one. Still, I could not resist the opportunity to be part of this. It hit all the right emotional chords with me. I told him that I would give it my best shot.

Instead of painting using traditional media which had long since dried up in my art kit, I decided to paint it using digital software and a pressure sensitive stylus. Unlike a filter that is added to a photo to give painterly effects, I painted every stroke as I would have on a canvas, with the bonus feature of hitting the "UNDO" button when I made a mistake... and I made a lot of them.

The snapshot was the starting point. I decided to make the scene at a beach house and have Cheyenne looking at us instead of turning her back to us. He is looking right at us as if to say, "Don't forget me". David sent me another photo of Cheyenne's face for reference.

I am told that the present was a complete surprise and brought tears of joy to Kimberly's face. I don't usually like making pregnant women cry, but in this case it was alright.