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Friday, 16 June 2017

Famous Animal Paintings

Blog 24

Last week, I wrote about artists who got inspired by animals. This week, I would like to show you some of the famous animal paintings I love.


Marie Cassatt: Sara holding a Cat, via Wikimedia Commons
Not surprisingly, I have fallen in love with Mary Cassatt’s painting “Sara Holding A Cat (1908, oil on canvas)” because it reminds me of my daughter Christine tenderly holding our cat Miko. I love with how much tenderness the little girl holds the tiny kitten. She is totally focused on the cat, taking care of the tiny animal that enjoys her attention as much as she enjoys its.


Franz Marc: Liegender Hund im Schnee, via Wikimedia Commons
Franz Marc’s “Dog lying in the snow (Liegender Hund im Schnee, 1911, oil on canvas)” appeals to me in the same way. It reminds me of our Golden Retriever Jessie as a puppy after we had exhausted her by playing. She loved the snow. I can understand why Marc considered animals purer in soul and more beautiful than human beings. They live in harmony with nature. I love Marc’s use of complementary colours and the calmness of the composition.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Le Chat dormant, via Wikimedia Commons
I did not know Auguste Renoir had done animal portraits before I did my research for this blog. I knew that several dogs appeared in his paintings. When I saw “ Le chat dormant” (Sleeping Cat, 1862, oil on canvas) I fell in love with the it right away. Beside that fact that a sleeping cat is very cute, it reminded me of the way our Miko is curled up when he is sleeping.

All three choices are not a surprise because I, like most people, like a painting not only for the skillful execution but mostly for the emotional connection. As a pet owner and mother, I can identify with the subjects of the above mentioned painting. They remind me of situations in my life. Looking at them makes me happy.

The reason behind my appreciation for Frida Kahlo’s “Self-portrait with Monkey” from 1938 is a little bit different. In the painting, the monkey seems to be Frida’s protector as he puts his arm around her neck showing how much he cares for her. It is possible that Frida had all her pets and especially her monkeys because they were a substitute for the children she was not able to have. I love that she seems to be part of the landscape with the green strands of her hair.


When we adopted our first dog Jessie, I had no clue how to treat a dog. We were a young childless couple at that time, and especially at the beginning, I treated her more like a baby than a puppy. I can also relate to the aspect of feeling protected and the unconditional love pets give. As we live in the country where the neighbours are further apart, my dogs have always giving me a feeling of security. I am not sure how real this protection is as I remember our first dog Jessie jumping on my lap when she sensed danger, but I am sure that an intruder or attacker will pick someone without a dog first.

What attracts me to Frida Kahlo’s painting is, however, also the fact that she is one of the artists whose biography I have read and whose strength and resilience I admire. Frida was faced with so much pain in her life, both physical and emotional. It all started when she was left disabled after she contracted polio as a child. In addition, the debilitating physical pain caused by the horrible accident at age 18 left her in very poor health for the rest of her life. Her emotional pain resulted from her husband’s infidelity as well as the fact that she was not able to bear a child even though she was pregnant several times. Nonetheless, she lived her life to the fullest. She used her art to express all the pain she suffered. Her art was a refuge that helped her to deal with the tumults in her life.

I can certainly relate to that. When I am painting, I usually forget all the troubles around me. I am totally immersed in the process of creating. I hope that I will never be tested the way Frida Kahlo was tested in her life, but I know that my ability to express myself in art and to see the beauty in the world around me definitely helps me to process both beautiful and painful events. For me, painting has the same purpose as writing a journal. I hope that my art will help me to find relief, peace and distraction whenever my life is turned upside down. I remember that painting our first dog Jessie after her death was a process accompanied by many tears. At first, I had to put the painting away because the grief was still too strong, but with time painting my beautiful girl helped me to remember her and the joy we had together.

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