Dina, pronounced ‘Dinah’, is my fourth Doberman Pinscher illustration for Mary Redshaw. I have known Mary from my time working at a tertiary college and she has always had a love of dogs, particularly Doberman Pinschers, and during the last five-years I have drawn a succession of Mary’s beautiful dogs: Gina, Tia, Della and now Dina.
For some reason, I always had a soft spot for Dina and despite the fact that she could be as mischievous as her sister, Della, I never wanted Dina to get the blame. I never got to meet Mary’s ‘girls’ apart from once, when I met Dina and took her and Mary’s whippet, Tina, for a walk. Dina was, by now, quite an ‘old girl’ and was having difficulty with her breathing and her walking was impaired, but despite all of this she had a beautiful nature and was a perfect companion for Mary and the spritely young whippet.
I drew this commission after having looked at hundreds of photographs that Mary had taken of Dina; together we chose the one that we liked the best and that reflected her gentle nature. Using coloured pencils, chalk and a small amount of watercolour paint the illustration was completed in just over two-days. Mary asked if it would be possible to include my ‘motif’ of a ladybird, so that was included near my signature and is the first time I have done this for a pet illustration.
I handed over the commission to Mary today and she was very ‘moved’ and said that I had captured Dina’s expression and character very well. It’s always nice to be able to see the expression in people’s faces when I hand over my work to them. One of Mary’s friends came to her house later in the afternoon and recognised Dina.
Mary is soon to get Dina framed and hung on the wall with her other canine friends, a collection of illustrations and photographs and memories that mean so much to her in more ways than one…
Butterflies are, to me, flying works of art. The beautiful colours and patterns of their wings are an amazing example of nature’s beauty. Their amazing metamorphosis is also a complex example of change.
The image of a butterfly has often represented freedom and they were drawn on the walls of where prisoners of war were confined during the war. The image of a butterfly has also been thought by many civilisations to represent the soul, and butterflies in the home are thought by some to be the souls of dear-departed relatives, letting them know that they are still with us.
I painted the above illustration of a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui, one of the Cynthia group of colourful butterflies) for a friend’s wedding present. It was produced using watercolour paints, inks and other paint mediums that I had to hand. I particularly enjoyed doing the quick wash background and painting the centre of the Echinacea flower. The name Echinacea is a derivative of the Greek word for ‘sea urchin’ and looking at the picture it’s quite clear to see why. My friend’s very young daughter commented that the centre of the flower looks like a sleeping baby hedgehog nestled amongst the petals. The whole creative process took a couple of hours from sketch to final painting. I had the final artwork mounted and gift-wrapped to present to Lynne and Ronnie on their ‘big day’.
I wasn’t entirely sure after writing this text if this was going to be the last post for this month. Then, minutes later, my friend, Judith, in Carlisle, sent me a text to say that she had had a red butterfly in her house. Knowing nothing about my intended blog post, she just thought that I would be interested. She saw it as a good omen and a sign that a loved-one had called upon her. I went to my study to e-mail her and say “that was a coincidence”, as I had just written the above blog post only hours earlier. Imagine then my surprise – when I went to my study to find that a reddish-orange butterfly was fluttering around the computer screen… It brought to mind a quote from Albert Einstein, stating ‘Coincidence is God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous’. It does make you think…