Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dogs and Art

After seven and a half hours at the da Vinci Middle School Arts Fair I was tired but elated. First of all, as I expected, I didn't sell a thing. But, as hoped, I exposed a lot of people to my work, and when you would like commissions, that's a good thing. Well over a dozen people took my brochure and talked positively about having portraits done.
What I was elated about was having spent the day talking about two of my favorite subjects: dogs and art. Not only talking about them, but actually making art of a dog, while having these discussions. It was bliss. I brought a camping chair yesterday, a low one so that my crossed knees could support a canvas, made a brief stop at Columbia Art for oil pastels in shades of blue and gray (for the portrait I'd begun of a blue Great Dane), and then spent the majority of my time at the Fair working on the portrait.
Working made me relaxed. It is good for a person like me to have something to do. I am not used to idleness, it freaks me out. I had good lighting, an inspiring subject, and $57 worth of new "crayons" to work with.
There were a number of highs during the day: the man who thought my portraits were "a cut above" the other work he'd seen at dog shows, the comments about how I do eyes and noses, the discussion of "why dogs?" and what makes a portrait. I love that stuff. I also enjoyed the people who wanted to talk about their Dachsunds, Coton du Tulears, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Basenjis, and were shocked that I not only knew how to pronounce the names, but could talk intelligently about the breeds. My lifetime passion for dogs came in handy, and I really enjoy that kind of chat. I love dogs.
The best part of the day however was the kids. There were many children at the event--some middleschool kids showing work in the student displays, some high schoolers, many small children following art loving parents, not too thrilled with going to an art fair. They seemed attracted to my booth though, because kids tend to like animals (and I am certainly a big kid), and they are also curious when you're doing something different right before their eyes.
Several kids came by and stopped to chat about dogs or drawing. Some returned later to check on my progress. Some wanted to know what I was drawing with, how it worked, why I was using them. Some disparaged their own efforts, which I tried to reroute into more positive thinking--"it's not that you can't, it takes practice, keep trying." Some said they liked to draw animals. Some wanted to know how long it took to make a painting or an oil pastel. I couldn't help but think back to myself as a kid, drawing dogs and horses every day, having no idea where to go with it, or how to improve beyond doing what I was doing more. I hope some of those kids went home and drew, or painted, or asked for oil pastels for Christmas.
It was also a pleasant break from the everyday. No chores, no squabbles, no food to prepare. Just my messy fingers, a photograph, a canvas and sticks of oil paint pressed into solid form.

On the laptop: Rudolph Before Title Nine
On the easel: Azul the Great Dane, almost finished
On the art table: the detritus of quick framing jobs and freshly cut signage
On the nightstand: At Bertram's Hotel
On tape: The China Governess
On my mind: Work to be done, a busy day ahead, a messy house, columns calling, putting up lights on the house for the holidays, getting exercise!

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