Taking up a new hobby

Growing up, I considered myself an artist. I learned early on that I had a talent for drawing. (You can find many of my early drawings in an earlier post.) However, no one really encouraged my talent, especially art teachers. I took one art class in college, and that professor left me quite disillusioned. Later I tried my hand at photography, but I never put much effort into it.

Recently, I attended a painting party–the kind that’s sprung up recently where they walk you through the painting, and many people’s inhibitions are loosened because you’re allowed to bring your own alcohol. Anyway, I had always felt that painting was too difficult, that it was too hard to direct a brush to do what I wanted. But in this painting party, I learned that it wasn’t as difficult as it seemed, and I could enjoy myself exploring with color.

Winter Cabin
Pardon the picture of a picture, but here is my first painting.

Recently, because of the coronavirus pandemic and everyone being isolated, Animal Education and Rescue began a fundraiser to give volunteers a sense of purpose. For a $20 donation, a volunteer will draw or paint a picture of your pet. There is no promise of talent, but the outcome will be a unique portrait of your pet, and you will be contributing to a worthy cause.

So I raised my hand and offered to draw a pet. Why not? I figured I could at least do a decent job.

My first assignment–a white dog named Emme.
Deciding I couldn’t do a white dog justice with a pencil drawing, I decided to be brave and attempt a painting.

I was frustrated with my first attempt, but I sent a picture of the final painting to a few people, and their responses were encouraging. They said I did a great job, and I figured no one would be expecting a professional job. So I contacted the woman who had requested the painting, and I delivered it to her home.

She took one look at the painting and said, “That’s her!” She was thrilled with the painting, and it seemed Emme was happy with it too.

Emboldened by the kind words, I decided I would like to pursue this medium further. I ordered some supplies, and I was assigned a second portrait–another white dog.

This time, the stakes were higher. Devin was a rescue that had been a beloved pet for 13 years and had died only recently. I wanted to give the owner something precious and memorable.
This time I had a real canvas to paint on, and I took my time. I knew I’m not skillful enough to do a truly lifelike portrait, but I wanted to capture to spirit of the dog.
I was not satisfied with the result, but I wasn’t confident that messing with the painting further would help rather than hurt the result. I delivered the painting to the owner, and she seemed thrilled with the portrait.

I want to take a class or at least find some tutorials online. I would like to learn more about different brushes and techniques, which I think will be the next step to enhance my skills. In the meantime, I am branching out to other colors of pets (ha ha) as well as humans, and who knows what else. I’ll post my paintings regularly, and I’m thinking of offering pet portraits for a nominal fee, with a portion donated to AEAR.

Let me know your thoughts

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