My first animal portrait of any acclaim was in 1st grade, of a spindly legged Pinto at a rodeo, which won 2nd place in the elementary school livestock week art contest. I could've decided then that I wanted to grow up to be a doctor, but instead, I went on to study art - ceramics, sculpture, art history, crafts, and painting - as a California Arts Scholar (in 1989) and then through college I spent a semester in Florence studying Art History and language, and another in Mexico City with courses at Bellas Artes, Museo de la Acuarela, La IberoAmericana, and folk arts at IMSS. I returned to California for formal studies which included more art history (including MesoAmerican and Yoruba), culminating in a BA in Set Design from San Francisco State University that authorizes me to paint big, work in 3-D and illuminate it well, and find ways to make the show go on.
Throughout those years and after, I exhibited several works, mostly in San Francisco, designed sets, made costumes, and continued being blessed and cursed with the kind of life that one gets when one is compelled to study art instead of, say, medicine.
Some of that work in the San Francisco Bay Area has included working with Capp Street Gallery, SomArts, the Mexican Museum, MCCLA, and Artist Victor Mario Zaballa.
While living in Mexico in 2009, I fostered a lovely dog that I considered adopting. Alas, there was a more promising family for him. So my way of keeping him was to paint his likeness. The finishing stroke was a decisive moment in my artistic meanderings. In being aesthetically pleasing, personally relevant, and timeless in style, it healed my imminent loss. To this day it hangs on my wall and gives me warm fuzzies.
My own experience and feedback from clients has confirmed that the painted image manages to embody so many of the endearing qualities about our pets that make our relationship with them so significant, in a way that is richer than a photograph, more eloquent than words.
Pets are like furry divine interventions, whose presence in our lives is fleeting. A portrait is a meaningful homage to the depth and uniqueness of a friendship that will outlast their short lives. When I look at the portraits of dogs I've known, I find comfort in reconnecting with them, and it heals me to know that this is what I can do to keep them with us in a way that a doctor might not.