Working on this new sculpture of the child with his dog and knowing how the dog is aging makes me think of the other dog sculptures that I have done. I have sculpted many animals before. Many were commissions of pets or people and their pets. One would think, “Oh a dog that should be a rather easy thing to sculpt.” But really they are just as intricate and have just as much emotion as the humans.
My first animal sculpture was my own wonderful black lab Conan. It was done just after he died. I remember that when I was sculpting my beloved pet I cried. My husband came into the studio and asked what I was doing. “Sculpting Conan,” I replied. He said, “If it is that difficult then why are you doing it.” My response that was said in between my sobs, “Because I have to.” That was when “Puppy Love” ( limited edition of 100) came into existence. I sculpted myself with my dog. In fact, when he came out of surgery and was on the floor of the clinic, I snuck in and cuddled up behind him in a similar position. The doctor said that his vitals changed when I did this, even though the dog was totally unconscious. I still think that is amazing. The dog was old, and a few days later, after we brought him home I was in this same position, but after many hours of staying awake to help him I literally passed out. He died in our kitchen. I was devastated, as I wanted to be there for him when he died. My husband who was on the floor in front of Conan said that every time I spoke to Conan he would see the fight to live in the dogs eyes. But the fight was too much. He had to go, and he could only do so when I was silent. I know it sounds strange, but what I learned from this event was that it is very important to give our beloved animals permission to go on.
I have owned 4 other dogs since, fostered 4 and had 3 that neighbors owned and I interacted with at my studio. I have never allowed myself to love a dog as much as I loved that one. I wrote a poem to go with this sculpture. I’ll have to see if I can find it.
In grandpas swing (bronze limited edition of 10) I was originally going to sculpt just the children, then I found out the dog was aging and not expected to live. I added the dog, which really did make the piece because the little girl is reading, “If you give a mouse a cookie” book to her brother. The little boy is looking at the book and not paying attention, his cookie balancing from his fingers; the dog smells the cookie. Maybe the piece should have been called “Give a dog a cookie” instead of “Grandpas Swing” Yes the swing really swings! The entire food theme came about because at the sitting the little boy kept saying. “I’m hungry.” It is funny to see how a commission comes together.
The Mr. Hevrdejs had me sculpt his wife and their two Rhodesian ridgebacks. I never got meet the two dogs as they are in their home in California. I was thrilled to have a piece of my work in their collection because Mr. Hevrdejs is a collector of art. In fact they have a wing in the Museum of Fine Art-Houston. Photographs were provided of both animals and I was surprised that after viewing them I had a sense about each of the animals. The same sort of feeling I get when trying to sculpt deceased loved ones. I went to Mrs. Hevrdejs and said. Porsche, she seems like she is one of those dogs that needs a lot of attention and would rather get that then even eat. Symba, on the other hand has a cat like mentality and frankly could not be bothered. Turns out I was right on. I sculpted Porsche waiting for the bone from her master and Symba turned away not really caring.
Playing Ball ( limited edition of 10) was another commission of master and dog. I loved getting to meet these dogs and taking the pictures of them. It is interesting that meeting a dog for a commission is quite similar to meeting a person. You get a feeling about them and you bond. I have learned that one of these dogs passed away a few years ago. I am glad they have the sculpture to remind them.
Jack- ( bronze limited edition of 10)This was my first posthumous dog commission, other than my own dog. Jack passed away. I visited the family and got to view his seating place, his toys and his bowl. The death of the dog was very difficult for the client and in turn having the sculpture come to completion was also difficult, as it sometimes can be when sculpting the deceased. I am sure they love having this piece.