Yes, I am preparing to say goodbye to Nell - the painting, as she is now about as dry as she is going to get prior to putting on a coat of varnish and then shipping to Ree - The Pioneer Woman - who lost her precious dog over a month ago.
Still no sign of Nell, and the world is saddened by her loss as we have all come to know and love Nell. She was playful. She loved her soccer ball. She helped Ree out of some difficult situations on the Ranch - like the time Ree drove her farm vehicle thru a pond and Nell stood on the other side cheering her on.
I know first hand the kind of love that a human shares with a pet, and I also know the special bond that is shared with a dog. For that reason, I felt an overwhelming sense of compassion for Ree and her children and her family for their loss. And so, I did this painting of Nell. It is the first painting I have ever done of a dog and yet, for some reason, it has taken on a life of its own.
This painting has become more than just a painting for me as I have come to know the Border Collie behind the eyes that I so carefully tried to exact in the painting. I worked carefully on every detail, every shadow, every value, every hair, and every flicker of light in her eyes based on the photograph I used for a reference.
And so, this afternoon, my son, Matthew, sat on our bench outside and held the painting of Nell so that I could take pictures. He looks disturbed behind the painting. I think he has become attached to Nell too. He has watched me, daily, fuss over the painting and has walked into my studio on a number of occasions and said "Mom, I'll bet Ree likes your painting a lot. Nell looks so real."
So I send her on to you, Ree, with love from your friend in North Carolina. I hope this painting is all that you hoped it would be and more. I hope it brings you peace of mind in knowing that Nell will always be a part of your family and never forgotten.
It has been a joy for me to work on this for you. My gift to you and your precious family.