Monday, April 27, 2009

Whose Gift is it Anyway? (Happy Anniversary to Me)

When we were in San Francisco in August 2008 I met a sidewalk artist whose whimsical work I really enjoyed. I bought several of her prints and got her business card. I had hoped she could do a portrait of my dogs from a photo, but when I emailed her about it she got kind of weird on the subject and said she had not felt “inspired” by what I sent her to work from and couldn't make a profit at the prices she typically charged. She said all that with finality so I left her the hell alone. Huh?! Little did this lady know, I will spend any ridiculous amount of money for art featuring my canine children.

I Googled to look for DFW dog artists, of which I knew there were many. Some are too expensive, others too schmaltzy, but finally I found one I liked (Rebecca Collins, www.artpaw.com) who works from photos and adds brush strokes electronically. I wasn't sure she could do much with the photo I sent - the lighting and composition were not great - but I thought that particular photo showed our 3 personalities.

Maybe it's egocentric to insert myself in a photo with my dogs, but it's very difficult to pose Marley and Billie without a human hand holding down at least one of them, unless we snap them sitting in the kitchen doorway and begging for food, but that's a pose we see far too often and don't necessarily want to capture artistically.

Rebecca, the local artist that I found, sent me several proofs for review. Some were easy to reject, such as the fake pine panel background, the no-color version, and my artistically-enhanced-to-be-even-more-toothy grimace.


I liked the paint-spatter version although I feared it looked more accidental than artistic.


I loved the blue brocade background but thought it overwhelmed we three mammals.


Still undecided, I consulted Rebecca, who offered to throw in a free 8 x 10 print if I could only make up my mind about which large size (11 x 14) I wanted. To my great satisfaction, when the package arrived it had 3 paintings - my chosen 11 x 14 canvas with the orange-red-purple background (which I chose for the House That Got Away, Morningstar, but also looks great in Wildgrove), an 8 x 10 with the plain blue background that was my second choice, and, nice surprise, a 5 x 7 of the spatter effect version Rebecca and I had agreed was fun to look at.I should say at some point in this blog that if I had known we were going to put an offer on a new house, I would not have ordered a fake-painting of our dogs. Well, maybe I would have, but doesn't it sound better to say I wouldn't have? Craig's reaction to my art purchase was, "What an ego!" I pointed out that the dogs won't pose without one of us involved, and he doesn't like photos of himself. He didn't bother to respond to my logic. I think it was at this point that I realized he would not consider the paintings an anniversary gift to him.

I don't know of anyone who wants canvas prints of me and my dogs, but I went ahead and bought frames for the 2 that needed frames (the stretched canvas can be displayed as-is). I tried to convince myself that when we bought a new house it would have room for TWO portraits of me, Marley and Billie. Not really – I keep the second one at work and I gave the third, smallest one to my dad – who was puzzled but polite about it.

I thought of asking Rebecca to airbrush out my birthmark but I didn't know if I would like the result, either aesthetically, philosophically or psychologically. Then I assessed, if it's OK to show Marley having gotten too gray and white to have his original beagle tricolors, it should be OK to show me with spreading thighs, squinty eyes and other facial imperfections.

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