Monday, 26 July 2010

An Artists Friend

With Taffy in Belgium
Reclaiming a water bottle that Taffy had mischievously "stolen" for attention while I was painting in the grounds.

Many artists have four legged companions that keep them company while they work. I often hear friends talking of their cats walking through their palettes or trying to drink from their water containers. I have two cats and two dogs. Biscuit and Buster came into our lives as kittens at almost the same time as our youngest Bearded Collie Bailey. My oldest pet Taffy came into my life over thirteen years ago  whilst I was living in England but we moved to Dubai the year he arrived where he adapted to early morning walks on the beach to keep cool. I taught watercolour workshops at the Dubai International Art Centre and he often appeared in my paintings. From Dubai I moved to France where Taffy met French artists and next he appeared to learn to bark in Chinese as I returned to Hong Kong where my Chinese brushwork improved. Following a time in Belgium he then returned to UK and his "normal" barking which is either English or Welsh.

The amazing thing about Taffy is that wherever he has lived he has met artists and students of mine all over the world who adore him finding him a huge bear of a  dog with a gentle spirit and heart of gold. He is loved by so many. To me he is invaluable as he nudges my arm when I have been painting for too long. In Taffys eyes  an hour without attention is far too long so a push on my left arm , never my right as he knows I am right handed, will often lead to a hug, kind words or a stroll around the garden.

Taffy taught me to walk away from my work, take breaks and love each stage as a painting develops.Without him I would have raced to complete a piece. Because of him I have found that taking time out to enjoy the simple things in life is important as being continually locked away in a studio working intensively can lead to dull  results. Thinking about a painting whilst moving away from it for a time really  leads the brain to seeing possible pitfalls ahead of time,alternatives in colour additions  or even chnages in the compositions.

My gentle friend is struggling this week. He has won so many battles with his health this year and my heart is sinking as I realise this is one battle he may not win. He is weak and although his tail gently thumps when I  stroke him I know it really is a time when I need to treasure each moment with him.Time we have left.

This is a very difficult week and my brushstrokes right now hold no distraction. 
My artists "friend" needs me.



Debbie said...

Oh Jean my heart goes out to you, what a lovely story and beautifully written about you little art friend. He has certainly travelled the world and seen so much!
Jean, I watched as my Lab (also 13), Major slowly slipped away as well, each day just being harder and harder to handle. I always said ... "as long as he can still wag his tail he could spend more time with us". But before long, his organs were failing and we had to make a terrible decision, though his tail still wagged. So my friend, you are not alone in this, you have wonderful friends who are there for you and constantly praying that Taffy is with you for a bit longer still.
You can make his days happy by doing what you are doing and loving each day you have with him. What you are feeling and going through right now are perfectly normal acts of an owners dedication and love for the loyalty shared by their special four legged friends.
I wish you an abundance of strength through this Jean and pray for you and Taffy.


Lindsey said...

oh I know how that feels and your post brought a lump to my throat. A sad but beautiful time, I know you and Taffy will enjoy your days in the sun.
Sending love and light to help your path.


Kleurrijk said...

What a beautiful story, but with a sad end. It touches me, because I understand your feelings. i wish you power to go trough this time.
Geri from

Ady said...

Thinking of you & praying for you and your dearest Taffy. xxx

Sandra said...

What a touching story. It's sad when our pets get old but for a dog he has clearly had a varied and exciting life!
I think the photograph would make a lovely painting for you to do. I would love to see that!

Doris said...

I am so sad for you. I have treasured and lost several loved ones over the years. It is so difficult...words just can't express the deep sense of great loss, can it?

cheryl said...

my heart goes out to you and Bailey.Losing a loved one is never easy to accept, except for the knowledge that it was worth taking the journey with them for all the love and companionship you had and wonderful memories you are left with.Hold on to those as they are so so precious.Big hugs to you Jean.

Billie Crain said...

Jean, your post brought tears to my eyes as I know the feelings you are experiencing. No matter the outcome of this latest struggle, Taffy will always live in your heart but unfortunately that fact is little comfort right now. You have given him a wonderful life and he in turn gives you love and devotion. Just being there with him is all he needs.

Jan Pope said...

Jean - I know these feelings too. I've lost 2 cats and a dog over the past 2 years and although each was a "senior" citizen, it was very difficult to see each one slip away. I miss each one of them. Your story was so eloquent. I try to think of these wonderful pets as a gift from God. I was blessed to have raised them babies and have known them all of their lives.

Stilin Studio said...

I've been there too, and know how difficult this time is for you. My heart goes to you and Taffy both.... with the hopes that your mutual love will make the sadness easier to bear.

Jean Haines SWA said...

Thank you so much for caring , for your kind words and most of all your support. Taffy slept on and off during the day yesterday and has spent a comfortable time with us. He will go to the vet tomorrow and this is where we will discusss his outcome. It is so very hard but he is wagging his tail still and being his usual loving self. As a giant of a dog he reminds me of an old aging Grandfather,full of wisdom and so many stories to tell. If only he could talk and I wish he could at the moment. I will keep my blog updated to how he gets on and I really can't thank you enough for your replies because they have helped more than you will ever know.


A Brush with Color said...

Lovely description of your sweet dog: you really made him unique for me. I think anyone who's grown fond of a pet can relate to this. I hope he isn't in discomfort. Taffy sounds like he's been a big part of your life--what a sweetheart. Thanks for sharing this with us--I'm sure he's happiest with you since that's what he's come to love all these years.

I hope the two of you can be close for as long as possible, and when it's time to let go, you will know he's had a wonderful life traveling the globe with his best friend, too.