In case you didn't know, a good studio dog is as indispensable to making our art as any of our well-loved painting tools are. It is hard to pin down exactly why this is so, it just is. A studio dog certainly is good company in those lonely quiet hours when we work late at night or early, early in the morning. They do not sit, or more accurately, lie, in judgement of our latest struggles on paper or canvas. They always patiently listen to us complain about or explain what we are doing, as though by their wise silence, the answer will be given (and it often is). They also make great models and will pose, reclining, for hours on end. They do not run away at the first sign of trouble, either, although they might make a beeline for the door if a squirrel comes round. They wear those smudges of paint gained while sniffing the trash as badges of honor, as if to say, "One wants a little color, now and then."
|Our studio dog.|
Perhaps these are a few of the many reasons why so many artists have had studio animals in their midst. Wonderful imagery exists documenting Frida Kahlo with her Xoloitzcuintli dogs, Picasso with his dog Lump and Georgia O'Keeffe with her Chows. Both Sargent and Zorn loved to include them in their portrait paintings. After a suitable period of mourning, we now have a new studio dog in our lives, and her name is Cella (pronounced Chella), a vastly different kind of studio dog from the pair of 100+ pound Great Pyrenees that graced our working space with their noble bearing for over 12 years. We have always considered ourselves 'big-dog-people', as though a proper dog must reach a certain stature before coming onto our canine radar. Pure snobbery, of course, especially now that seven pound Cella has completely taken over the studio dog responsibilities so admirably. She is a Havanese, from the Cuban "Blanquito de Havana" breed, and she is every bit the big dog in personality and intelligence. Suffice it to say, we have now also become little-dog-people, at least as far as the Havanese breed goes. (Dog-snobbery dies hard).
The only real drawback to a nearly silent little studio dog is the very real danger of stepping back from the easel and tripping over her. A small adjustment considering all the joy and companionship our animals give us.
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–John and Ann