“Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs – loyalty, devotion. Selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love – can be elusive to humans.” – John Grogan
This watercolor painting entitled, “Loyalty” is a part of the series I painted on my core values. Loyalty is more than a characteristic in an individual. It is the mindset that colors your behavior, your mannerism, your way of thinking and acting. It is more than kindness, love or compassion. It is your willingness to make sacrifices big or small for those to whom you are loyal. As I was reflecting on ‘loyalty’ as one of my core values, I had to think hard how best to portray it.
Years ago when I taught my grade six students, there was a poem in one of our books about a homeless man and his dog. The moral dilemma for the homeless and friendless man was whether to keep his dog so he would have a trusted and loyal friend by his side or to give him up so at least his best friend wouldn’t starve to death.
So, I used this story to create this painting.
One thing about creating art is that it makes you think about how to express an idea, a feeling, a value or a series of moral/ethical questions in a painting.
There are several ethical and moral questions that arise in my mind. Some of these are –
- Are you the person your dog thinks you are? And what might be that image in your dog’s mind?
- Who is loyal to whom?
- Is the homeless man being loyal to his dog? Is the dog being loyal to his owner?
- As a dog owner, what is your responsibility?
- Would the dog leave the homeless man?
An Analysis of the Painting:
Look at the composition of the painting. What is the focal point? Where does your eye go first? Does it go to the man and the dog? If so, why? What kind of feeling does it evoke?
Is the line of composition triangular, horizontal, vertical, S shaped or diagonal? If you squint your eye what do you see? At first it may appear that the composition is horizontal because the two figures are lying down but then when you look carefully, you’ll see that the figures are at an angle and so is the background that surrounds them. Horizontal lines give a sense of calm whereas diagonal lines convey agitation.
What about the colors and contrasts? Do the colors complement the subject matter? Are the white spaces and colors used in a way that they create an interesting contrast and complement each other? I chose subdued colors and a somber atmosphere surrounding the figures to convey the idea of desolation and desperation.
Five Key Questions before Purchasing Art
Buying art is an important decision. It is a luxury item which adds to the beauty, enhances the decor and brings about happiness. It is something that is going to be with you for a long time.
Confused about buying original art? Here are some key questions to ask yourself.
- Do you really love the piece of art you are buying or are you buying it because a famous artist created it?
- Does the art speak to you? Does it create an emotional reaction? Does it have a story to tell?
- Would this work of art fit well in your space and compliment the décor of your home or office? Would it match the colors of your room, furniture and drapery?
- If you are purchasing art created in a particular style, such as, impressionist or abstract, ask yourself why you are drawn to this particular style? Is it because you like the colors & style or is it because that is what everyone is buying nowadays?
- Is filling up the wall space with a mass-produced painting or poster more satisfying or buying an original work of art?
Art Across the Marsh Studio Tour is coming up very soon …. Mark October 14 and 15 on your calendar. I am painting up a storm. There will be many new works, both in painting and ceramics. So even if you have visited my studio before, it would be worth stopping by. To check out some of the new works visit my Face Book page https://www.facebook.com/arttocart/ & Instagram inselly.com/varma.induart
My Dog Saved My Life
As a young girl, I grew up in India. The weather is very conducive to playing outside pretty much throughout the year.
One evening my sisters, some friends and I were playing “Satollia”* outside in the neighbor’s garden area. I think I must have been 9 or ten years old at the time. There was a dense hedge at the end of the garden. My faithful dog, Mickey, was also joining us in the fun. Her favorite game was to grab the ball before any of us could get to it.
We were busy playing. Suddenly I realized that Mickey was no longer a participant in our game. Instead I heard loud animal grunts, snarling and threatening barks coming out of her. She was fighting with a snake furiously. This was a very frightening sight, indeed. Mickey had bitten the snake hard and the snake. In the meantime, hearing our cries and the loud animal noises, the gardener came rushing in. He beat the snake with a stick to finish the job that Mickey had started.
Mickey went into a state of shock & was shivering uncontrollably. We quickly brought her to my father who is a doctor. He wrapped her in blankets and gave her some brandy to revive her.
To this day, I have not forgotten that act of faithfulness on the part of Mickey. She put her life on line to save us. That is why we say, “A dog is a man’s best friend!!”
Mine is not a unique experience. “Dogs have proven themselves time and again to be loyal, kind, understanding, and have an indomitable spirit. ….. Whether as an assistant to a shepherd, a strong nose and swift feet for a hunter, eyes and ears for the blind and deaf, or simply a companion unlike any other, dogs help humans with day-to-day tasks, many of which may not be possible without them.” (https://www.rover.com/blog/dogs-called-mans-best-friend/)
*Satollia” is a popular tag game in India. It is played in two teams. Seven rocks are stacked. Hitting it with a ball breaks this stack. The job of all the team players is to stack the seven rocks back up without being tagged/hit by the ball from the opposite team.
Have you ever wondered about the popularity of pets? Do the pets care if they are popular or is it more of a human phenomena? Does a pet define the owner? Do we own animals as pets for selfish reasons or are we helping them live a fulfilling life?
The dogs & cats, indeed, show signs of being happy with their master but do fish, gerbils, birds or other pets give any indication of being happy? I sometimes wonder how we human beings would feel if some larger creature captured us and kept us in a cage for selfish reasons. How much fun would that be?
I used to think that the most popular pet would have to be dog, simply because having a dog is like having a loyal friend who is always there to welcome you with joy when you come home after a long day or sense your moods and cheer you up or cuddle up with you at home or look after your health as you walk him and be there to protect you. But when I looked at the statistics on the Love Science website, I was surprised to see that the most popular pet in USA is fish. Check out their post https://www.livescience.com/32415-whats-the-most-popular-pet.html According to Live Science (2013) in USA there are
- 142 million freshwater fish
- 88.3 million cats
- 74.8 million dogs
- 16 million birds
- 24.3 million small animals
- 13.8 million horses
- 13.4 million reptiles
- 9.6 million saltwater fish
However, The world statistics are different according to this website – http://stevedalepetworld.com/world-pet-population-data-mixed-bag/ Dogs do get the first spot according to this website!!
I used to own a dog long time ago and the dog did save my life in a very scary incident! I’ll tell you more about it in the next post.
Exhibition of Ceramic Installation & Paintings
By Indu Varma
Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre
7 Lorne Street
June 19-29, 2017
Opening Reception on June 20th 5:00 – 7:00 pm
What has immigrating to Canada meant to me? The recent wave of Syrian refugees has reminded me of my own story when I came to Canada as an immigrant in 1969 at the age of 20 after getting married to a young man who was teaching at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. I immigrated to Canada leaving behind all that was familiar and dear to me, such as, my family, my friends, my favourite places, the colourful clothes, the familiar foods, the language, the music and the art that I grew up with. Here I was, not knowing a soul, not even knowing my husband too well. It was but natural to feel nostalgic, lonely, lost and out of place. And then began the journey of struggle, hard work and survival driven by the need to earn money to visit India regularly, to ensure that my children got to know their grand parents and extended family and more importantly to give my children a good education.
“Mon pays” refers to both countries, my motherland India, where I was born and my chosen country Canada that nurtured me throughout my adult years. I have a very strong bond with both and my identity is influenced by both cultures. This exhibition of paintings and a ceramic wall installation portrays the experiences, emotions and struggles of living between two cultures that are not uniquely mine. The exhibition will run from June 19-29th at Struts Gallery in Sackville. The opening is on June 20th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.