Friday, 8 January 2021

25 Years in Canada


Jessie - Forever in my Heart, acrylic, 16" x 20"

Blog 1 


2006 was our year of the dogs. On Friday, January 13, we were on our way home after returning from Germany. Suddenly, we received a call from the Humane Society to let us know that they had a fourteen-month-old Golden Retriever named Coco for us. We were ecstatic and decided to drive by right away. I told Dominic and Christine that Coco might not be the right dog for us and that it could be a while before we found our new companion. While I directed the talk to my children, it was as much relevant for myself. The closer we got, the more nervous I got. What can I say, we adopted Coco right away. She was darker than Jessie. She was a beautiful caramel colour with a bulkier build and a shorter snout.

From the beginning, Candy had health problems. First, she got sick with diarrhea and vomiting. What was very worrisome was that she had lost almost 5 kg within three weeks. I was so scared. Luckily, after a couple of days, Candy was back to normal. She either ate something that did not agree with her or was stressed about her change of environment. Next, Candy had a reaction to the anesthesia when she was spayed and needed an IV. But it got even worse in the summer when she had wolfed down three wooden game figures of 10cm in height. The ultrasound did not show any foreign objects, but the vet cautioned that wood and certain plastics were not visible. He was right. Candy needed an emergency operation.

At the end of January, I started the portrait of our beloved Jessie from a photo taken on her last birthday. It was the day before she died. While I worked on the painting during studio time with the Blackburn Hamlet Arts Group, I felt good and proud of all the compliments our beautiful dog got. Once I was in my car, the tears came back. Candy was a lovely dog, but not able to fill the hole Jessie had left.

Princess Christine, acrylic, 14" x 11"
Painting Jessie was very emotional. I started a portrait of Christine, my daughter when the pain was too overwhelming to continue painting. Even a look at the finished painting, brought out the rawness of my grief.

Christine’s portrait was also not without challenges. I was not happy with the face until I realized that it was too long. Even though many people had told me that Christine was the spitting image of myself, I disagreed. Therefore, it was interesting to see that I felt like looking into my face at one point.

I registered both paintings, “Princess Christine” and “Jessie - Forever in my Heart” for the juried Arteast Budding Artist Exhibition. When the organizer informed me that my dog portrait had won an award for its expressiveness, I was exhilarated, proud, and so emotional that I cried some tears. Both paintings had received high marks for execution and artistic skills. I was very touched that my work of love had also moved the jurors. The news encouraged me to take my passion for painting past the hobby stage. I considered concentrating on pet portraits even though nobody in my family supported my vision.

The summer was busy with lots of activities and the visit from one of my friends and her family, a four-week stay of a Spanish exchange student, and the fostering of eight-month-old Beagle Frankie. After Jessie had died, we had applied as foster parents for BARK (Bytown Association for Rescued Kanines (B.A.R.K.) Dog Rescue. Even though we had already adopted Candy, we felt we should still foster a couple of dogs. Frankie came in mid-July and was such a fun dog. He was much smaller than Candy but believed he was the ruler of the pack. He stayed with us until Candy needed her emergency operation.

On September 19, our life got even abundant when I picked up a seventeen-month-old Australian Shepherd called Alex. He had spent his young life in a cage in his owner’s garage. It was love at first sight. It took me a week to convince my husband that we should adopt him. Candy was only half a year younger than Alex. There was a chance that we would have too old dogs and possible high vet bills at the end of their lives. However, once I saw Ingo and Alex playing together in the yard, I knew that my wish would come true.

Top: Coco, 11" x 14", Bottom: Frankie, 12" x 12" 

After I painted Jessie, I worked on portraits of my sister’s dog Coco and of Frankie.

At the beginning of September, I started again with life drawing classes and a painting course with Patricia Savoie. A couple of months later, I was excited to see one of my paintings together with my teacher’s artwork in the November Awards Show of the Ottawa Arts Association at the Ottawa Little Theatre.

Aside from creating pet portraits, I still kept learning different painting styles. In November, I took part in the “Naked in the Landscape” workshop at the National Gallery. I created art inspired by Edwin Holgate.

I ended the year with work on a painting of my in-law’s dachshunds Trixie and Wedel. With every successful artwork, my confidence increased. Please join me again in two weeks, when I will tell you about my creative endeavours of 2007.

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