"Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos."
This expression originates from volume three of the short story collection by Feng Menglong, Stories to Awaken the World, circa 1627. It is considered the potential origin of the infamous 'Chinese curse': May you live in interesting times.
Whether a Chinese curse or poor translation, the fact remains that
we certainly are living in a time of chaos.
For artists these times are a target rich environment. This pandemic has relentlessly exposed the global nature of social, geopolitical, environmental and economic issues and forced us to recognize that they are interconnected.There is no looking away from or ignoring the new normal. We are going to have to figure this out together.
But at first artists struggled to cope, just like everyone else.
I spent the initial month of lock down channelling my distress into teaching myself to weave on a home made peg loom. Using fine, fingerling weight wool to create very controlled, geometric patterns I allowed myself to get lost in the focused rhythm of counting weft & warp threads.
March gave way to April, which brought sunnier days, nesting birds, a riot of flowers and the phenomenon of pandemic puppies. Everytime I took a social distancing stroll in my neighbourhood another young dog seemed to be learning to walk on a leash. Then family & friends began to bring home their own bundles of furry love.
Full disclosure....I also have a new puppy. Although he happened to arrive just as covid19 upended the world as we knew it, I'd been on a waiting list for 2 1/2 years.
Suddenly I had the most ridiculous urge to paint family and friend's puppies.
As I'm such a slow painter, each piece usually takes me about a month to complete. Gradual layers of thin glazes finally build up the textured look with the smooth surface that I desire. The same focus that drove my weaving was now redirected to applying paint to a wooden panel...but the reason I created these little guys is simply that puppies make me happy. I can't control what goes on in the world but I can manage to find a calm and pleasing place to dwell at my easel.
I don't have any inspirational or politically motivated art to share.
That's an emotional pandora's box which I leave for other artists to open & explore.
For me it's been about capturing the spark of their personality & joy I felt upon seeing these pups.
I hope that they bring their new owners many years of loving companionship.