Why do I do what I do?
This is a question I don't often ask myself mostly because I'm too busy doing it but after some deep thinking which turned into soul searching I believe I have found the answer and it’s a long one so grab a cup of tea and a biscuit and lets get started!
They say to writers 'write what you know about' and it's the same for me I know about dogs and cats and I want them to tell a story, but it goes deeper than that it’s all to do with connection, I live with dogs and a cat. They're are my soulmates, my companions and my friends we have adventures together, we play together and we have quiet cosy times together. I love the company of dogs they are easy-going with different personalities much like people but most dogs are happy souls and make the world a better place to be in.
Pets teach us to be better human beings, they teach us to be patient, to have empathy and commitment, dogs especially help us to exercise daily and take time out to switch off from work and concentrate on enjoying their company, which is so good for our souls. I can't imagine a world without them.
It’s because of these personalities and characteristics that I like to anthropomorphize my pet paintings. I know some people look down on this type of art but to be honest there is so much snobbery in the art world I really don't care! I like to think of them as little characters capable of doing the things we do, of being independent and expressing themselves through their clothing and actions and their facial expressions. They are not always happy they can be melancholy or annoyed or shocked, I also love colour and our furry friends come in a limited pallette so by adding clothes and a colourful background it's a way of making my paintings become more vibrant but still have an element of realism.
I love painting animals. I’ve painted abstracts, landscapes and still lives in the past but they don’t seem to strike the right chord or make me as happy, it’s as if there is something missing but when I paint an animal or a person and I put that white speck of light in their eyes that’s when the magic spark of life appears!
For me, it is all about the eyes, I think dogs eyes especially are so beautiful, getting eye contact with a dog gives me such a good feeling of connection and trust, which I don’t as easily get with people....or our cat Mabel.
Please don’t misunderstand me though, I don’t at all condone dressing dogs up in clothes or making them smoke cigarettes or pipes! In fact I hate to see a chihuahua in a tutu or a dachshund wearing trousers because humiliation is an emotion not only experienced by humans, the only time I can tolorate it is if the animal is cold or poorly. Even when our Bailey had his back operation he had to wear little shoes to protect his paws from scraping on the ground....let's just say it made me feel very uncomfortable! No, I dress them up in my paintings because it's not real you see, it's just fun, a fantasy and I want to reflect their personalities through their clothing, I want to create an atmosphere, I want to tell a story, it’s why sometimes a simple straightforward portrait isn’t enough.
My last thought on this matter is I do what I do because it's fun, I enjoy dressing my painted pets up and if it brings a smile to another human being then I know that human is my kind of person and we're all in this together! Connection again!
So when you see my paintings of animals wearing a colourful shirt, smoking a pipe, perhaps wearing a hat or a nice polo neck jumper, I want you to look for a moment and take it all in and maybe then you might feel that you know that animal a little bit better and imagine that they are alive in my world going about their business completely independently, living their best lives like characters in a book.