Enid was the first dog I’ve ever lost.
She was my Boston Terrier, the matriarch: a little General, my love, and my first model. When we had to say goodbye to her (after a great but much, much too short life, age 14) I couldn’t bear to look at her photographs. The pain was too sharp, and would make me catch my breath or dissolve. But her art I was drawn to. I found solace and comfortable release in the more abstract feel of her, and I could recount the little bits that comprised what made her whole: her thick neck, the arch of her back, the exact color brown in her eyes, and her crooked teeth. Her artistic essence was my salvation.
Since then, it’s been my great honor to be called upon to create remembrance portraits for others. I try very hard to understand what made the subject truly them, and endeavor to include tiny sips of their life into their portrait. I hope that I’m successful.
If I could ease someone’s grief the slightest bit, then I’d be happy. If I could paint a safe harbor to grieve more comfortably, and if — eventually — that space could give way to a sigh or even a slight smile of remembrance, then I could ask for nothing more. Art is very powerful, but I think in no way moreso than to relieve suffering. I will always be thankful for the opportunity to act as emissary to the grieving, and attempt to build a bridge between worlds.