Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Puppy Love...

Ever since we lost our dear dog Obi last May, I've felt a void in our home and in our hearts. But my husband was adamant there would be no other dog in our house. Ever...

The kids also have been begging for a puppy but he was unmoving. This past week my son, Chris, has really been focused on getting another dog, to the point of writing a whole list of all the things he would do with it and how he would take care of it. He also asked about the volunteering program our local SPCA has for kids so one day after school we went to get information. And stumbled on a cute little Jack Russell mix female. She was about 2 yrs old and surprisingly quiet for a JR cross surrounded by cages of large and very loud dogs.

When we came home we told my husband about her, just out of interest and not expecting anything. Without a moment's thought he turned to me and said, "Well, go get'er". The kids and I all stopped in our tracks and asked him if he was joking. Nope, he said. We didn't believe him! But he assured us multiple times that he was dead serious.

Within 10 minutes we were all in the car, driving to the SPCA.

Sadly, the JR girl was already adopted. We looked around but did not find anything that was quiet enough for our household and went home disappointed. The rest of the weekend was rather quiet.

On Monday, while at work on a break, I looked at their web site to see if any new dogs have come in and stumbled on a cute little Black Lab cross puppy. Now, we were NOT getting a puppy!!! Oh, but he was so cute, I just had to show my husband. He told me to go check him out.

Right after work I rushed to SPCA again (I'm getting to be on 1st name basis with all the people there ;-)) and asked for Alpine. He was still available. Someone came with a bundle of black fur and put it in my arms. I must admit, I was not prepared and fumbled with my keys and wallet so as not to drop the pup. I looked down at the "bundle" and he looked me straight in the eye, put his nose on my chin and just stayed that way for a good 10 seconds. Then he licked my chin and I felt that last link in the chain tighten around my heart. I was done.

To make the long story short Alpine went home with us that same night. We renamed him Hunter, after our favorite town in Muskoka, Huntsville, but will keep his official name as Alpine Hunter.

Hunter is 8 weeks old and is supposed to be a Black Lab/German Shepherd cross, but he looks about 95% BL, except for his little white patch on the chest.

He's been with us for two and a half days and it's such a joy to have a dog at home again. Hunter came to us a little malnourished, as evidenced by his huge tummy, protruding ribs and scrawny limbs, but this morning when I took him for his pee break I realized he has already changed. His tummy is trimmer, legs straighter and there is a lot more meat on him. He has been very good at not having (too many) accidents at home, as long as we keep to a tight schedule of taking him outside at the right times. At night he sleeps right through with no accidents. He is also a very smart pup. On Tuesday (not even 24 hrs after bringing him home), I came to visit him at lunch time and took him for a walk. He already knew where home was and turned into our driveway even though I planned on going right past.

He's also been meeting new people, neighbors and local pets with confidence and a wagging tail. We've been taking him places and going on rides and he is quiet and interested. I am so proud of him! I'm sure he's going to keep us very busy for the next year or so but I am so looking forward to teaching and training him and just having him around for a long, long time!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spring is in the air...

Or at least, it was over the last weekend. Lucky for us Canadians, it was a long weekend - Family Day on Monday - and the weather could not have been nicer after a month long deep freeze. It was mostly sunny and pretty warm. And it sure made me think of Spring.

To celebrate the feeling I decided to try something new - a Landscape! It's a first for me but i know that to continue in Equine Art, I have to perfect that skill as well. Can't get stuck in head studies forever.

So, without farther ado, here is my first landscape:

It's not the most perfect landscape I've ever seen, but for my first, I'm pretty happy with it. 5" x 7" in pastels on pastel board.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bad, bad blogger... and LE CADEAU DU CHEVAL

Life has been rather quiet the last few weeks since the summer and I have been rather quiet as well. There has, however been one event, a project, worth talking about. So, why haven't I said anything? Well, to be honest, I still find it hard to believe.

The project, named Le Cadeau Du Cheval (The Horse Gift), is a stunning Mural Mosaic comprised of over 230 panels painted individually by 174 equine artists from around the globe. It's a bit overwhelming still to think my painting is a part of this incredible collaboration even though the project was officially unvailed almost two months ago on September 3, 2008.

Originally displayed at the Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, the 22 1/2 feet by 18 1/2 feet mural designed by Lewis Lavoie will be a travelling exhibit for the next two years celebrating the horse and human's special relationship with it. So far the mural has been presented at the All American Quarter Horse Congress ( in Columbus, Ohio and is now on its way to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada where it will be on display December 4-13 this year. I'm not sure where it will go next but I do hope it will make its way to Ontario. The only thing better than participating in this huge project would be seeing it in person.

At the end of the tour the Mural will be donated to a permanent public showcase.

What can I say... I am simply humbled by the fact I was chosen to participate in this project among many talented artists whom I admire greatly. And yes, very proud, that my little painting is included with the other beautiful works to make up the Mural. It has been probably the most special project I have done to date.

But, I'm blabbing too much. Here is my painting, "Let Me Share the Weight" (panel 219):

and the entire Mural, with my panel circled in white:

I still can't believe I am part of this project...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Saying good bye to a faithful friend.

The trip to Vancouver and back was simply AWESOME but the return home was shadowed by some bad news. Our beloved Mini Schnauzer, Obi Kenobi, has been sick for the past week. The visit to the vet and some medicines had made her better and when I arrived home on Thursday we thought she was on her way to recovery. Unfortunately, she suddenly deteriorated and crashed with kidney failure on Sunday night. On Monday morning we made the only humane decision we could. Our family decided to put her to rest.

Obi was the best family dog anyone could ever ask for. While fiercely protective, she never made a wrong move or threatened to bite anyone. But she let everyone know our family was under her protection with her loud bark and anyone trying to harm any of us would have to deal with her first. With children she was always gentle and eternally patient enduring a toddler's prodding and pushing with the stoic poise of a lioness, never complaining or showing any sign of displeasure.

Two years ago Obi suddenly came down with SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome). We've never heard of the disease but quickly became fully aware of its devastating effects. In the span of four weeks Obi became totally blind and was constantly prone to bouts of colitis with diarrhea, distended stomach and heavy drinking of water. In the following months she dealt well with her disease and quickly learned the commands for "down" (stepping down the stairs), "up", and "ah ah" (change direction). She was able to go off leash in a protected park and enjoy relative freedom. We could still play her favourite game of "Snakey".

Unfortunately, it would seem the symptoms of SARDS hid an underlying problem with kidneys, to which Schnauzers of her age are predisposed to. When she crashed on Sunday, her blood levels were so high, they indicated total kidney failure and even though we could probably rehydrate her with a hospital stay, it would only mean prolonging her suffering as her kidneys could not be fixed.

Last night we said good bye to our cherished and faithful friend and send her off to the Rainbow Bridge, to play with her pal Yoda. She is free of suffering now, and I hope to see her some day when it's my time to pass.

Farewell dear friend, rest well until we meet again. We love you and miss you...

P.S. I will report on the trip in a few days.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A trip of a lifetime...

Many of us have our "Life To Do" or bucket list, if I may use the title of a recently released movie. It's a list of things we'd like to achieve and do before packing it in and passing on to the next life. I am no exception. Among things like having a house in Muskoka, making a living from my art, having my own horse, entering a dressage show etc., there is one very special item. Ever since I've come to Canada, it has been my dream to travel across the country on a trans continental train. This Spring my dream will come true.

My mother and her husband, who have been living in Vancouver, BC since 1993, have finally decided to sell their house and join us back in Ontario! And, the good daughter that I am, I promptly offered to help them move back. The plan is for me to ride out on Via Rail train to BC, help them pack their whole household minus a few items, onto a truck and a car, and drive back to Ontario. What an adventure this will be!

Obviously I do not have any photos to show from the trip yet but here are a few to whet my and my readers' appetite, courtesy of Via Rail website:

Just imagine three days and three nights of traveling through the most beautiful country in the world and experiencing probably the most drastic changes in geography and terrain one could squeeze into such a short trip. From Northern Ontario and Lake Superior vistas, through the spring blooming prairies to the Rockies, also awakening to the Spring but still capped with snow, and finally arriving at the Pacific Coast. And I'll be looking at all this with an artistic heart and soul.

Ah, but we cannot forget the pleasure of solitude and peace of having single bedroom all to myself and having my meals prepared for me. Those of us who are working wives and mothers will totally understand this comment LOL.

So, early in the morning on May 8th I'll be boarding a Via Rail train in Toronto with a beating heart, a suitcase full of paper and pencils and 10 TB in memory cards for my digital camera, ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Total eclipse of the moon.

It is not something that happens often and is not as spectacular as a solar eclipse, but a lunar eclipse is nevertheless a special and beautiful astronomical event. And, being a Cancer, the Moon is particularly special to me (my ruling planet) and it is in fact my favorite celestial body.

Yesterday's weather was perfect as well. The -20 C temperature (or at least what felt like -20) provided the clear, crisp air while the clouds have obligingly migrated to other areas for a change. The view was perfect! Here are a few images of the progression of the eclipse, taken with my Canon camera, right on my front porch.

This last image is my favorite, due to the strange color shift. It was not planned nor photoshoped and the setting on the camera were exactly the same as in the picture before that one or after.

At this time I had enough. My fingers were numb and the camera batteries were freezing making it increasingly hard to focus the image.

Next eclipse? December 2010! By then I hope to have better camera equipment and night-shooting skills.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Starting to feel like a human being again.

It is easy to forget how energy and enthusiasm feel when you've been sick for two weeks. The Hamilton area is under assault by some very powerful bugs causing a very bad chest cold which often transforms into tonsillitis or sinusitis. I've been lucky to get all three. Hardly been sleeping in the last couple of weeks and doing very little artwork as a result. But now that I've been taking antibiotics for three days, I'm finally beginning to feel like a human being. Just as I was getting sick, I finished a portrait of a puppy named Joey, who belongs to the owner of Bluemoon Riding Centre where I'm learning dressage. He was done in the same style and technique as the pears. He was an adorable puppy with the softest fur I have ever touched on a dog and is now a very well behaved and extremely friendly and tolerant adolescent, a credit to his owner's training abilities. Now I have two horse commissions coming up.

One is graphite and one in colored pencils, just like Joey. I just love
doing horsey commissions and can't wait to get started but, alas, I have
to wait for some paper and supplies to arrive first.