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September 2013



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There are days when I really love what I do...

Flash, originally uploaded by Cathy (Kate) Johnson.

...this is one of them.

Actually, normally painting commissions makes me really nervous. Will I pull it off? Will the buyer be pleased? If it's for a gift, will the recipient? Will I be able to deliver without a mishap? (I've been known to drop a loaded paintbrush right in the middle of a light area, and my cats HAVE run across a painting after first loading up paws in the palette.)

This time, despite having really pretty awful resource photos to work with, I was able to produce a painting I was happy with, anyway...of my beloved veterinarian's dog that had to be put to sleep this year.  The staff at Excelsior Springs Animal Clinic got together with Pete's wife Nancy to have me do the painting, and I'll admit I'd been stalling a bit. 

The question was, would Pete be pleased.  He's a good friend, and I knew how much he loved that animal...

And the answer came just a while ago with his phone call. He told me I just shot his reputation for being a hard-case curmudgeon. :-)

Of course, I told him he didn't HAVE that reputation, not among those of us who care about him. Yep, he doesn't have a lot of patience with people who don't take proper care of their animals...who can blame him? Makes me crazy, too.

But in fact he's seen me through more than 30 years of caring for MY animals, and I've been privileged to see his work as a wildlife rehabilitator for many years as well. He'd call and let me know what was currently in his care, and I'd spend time with him and Nancy, taking photos, making sketches, and even being allowed to care for the great horned owl his kids dubbed The Assasin for a couple of days on my place, till it got acclimated to the area where it would be released.

The wild birds and mammals he's cared for over the years have appeared in many of my books. So have his and Nancy's domestic animals, their dogs, horses, and cows. They're good friends, and all the more reason to want Pete to be pleased!

I was delighted to be able to do something for HIM...and Flash was indeed a beautiful animal.

Feels good to know we all made him happy...

And if you live in the Excelsior Springs, Missouri, area, I really have to recommend the Excelsior Springs Animal Clinic!  They're just the best!


That is beautiful (the painting AND the story).

I don't often like animal portraits but you've captured the wild curiosity of this pooch and an airy, outdoor quality that is stunning. Flash looks like the kind of dog whose company was extraordinary. So much energy and intelligence!

I just love it. I'm sure Pete loved it even more, seeing his dog so lovingly rendered. :)
Thank you! Yep, painting animals is a real tightrope...I'm not fond of the overly sentimental stuff, but this WAS a cool animal and Pete's just terrific. They had a great relationship...

I've painted three dogs for three men, now--J. is one of them--and I've been happy with all three. Guess I lucked out!
i remember red paint footprints around shigella's apartment out in salt lake. hamish the cat always liked red...

it is a lovely portrait of the pooch. i agree--when one can see the intelligence and life in it, it is good. this one makes me want to ruffle the ears and sneak a squeeze of the snout. this is a dog one could "talk" to...
Thank you, sweet thing...I'm so glad Pete liked the painting...

And oh, my, good old Hamish!
I SWEAR they want to put their own creative stamp on it!
That's a beautiful portrait. I love the face especially. Wildlife rehabilitators are my heroes.
They're mine, too! INCREDIBLE amount of work, expense, and caring goes into caring for wounded or abandoned animals...


Kate....when I saw this painting it made me cry. I had to put my sweet Sadie girl to sleep a week ago today. Another artist friend suggested that I paint her portrait to help with my grief/healing. I'd love to do this but am afraid I won't be able to capture her life and spirit. This painting is an inspiration...do you have any suggestions?
Thank you....Kat
Yes, Kat, I know exactly how you feel. Take your time and paint Sadie in your own time, when you can--when you feel ready. It took me two years to be able to paint my sweet Scout--I wrote about it in this post, in early November: URL: http://katequicksilvr.livejournal.com/353007.html

I think grief takes as long as it takes. We can never really capture all that they were to us, but the attempt helps, I think. When you feel you can try it, knowing you'll fall short (I always do!), I think your friend is right, it does help...but it takes as long as it takes each individual to make that try.
I could never paint Sarah. I'm so very glad you did.
I'm glad I did too, sweetheart...I miss her too.


Kate, thank you so much. I loved your painting of Scout. I know it will take me some time to feel up to doing this...but I look forward to it. I wanted to tell you that I originally got your name from an incredible woman named Ann Zwinger. Artists are the most wonderful people, aren't they? I love your blog and Flickr pages...you're such an inspiration!
You're welcome...believe me, I do know how you feel!

And when did you talk to Ann?! She was my mentor, years ago, and I haven't heard from her since her stroke a couple of years ago. I've written, but I know she's not been up to responding...I hope you've talked to her recently and that she'd doing so much better!

Yes, artists are wonderful, and Ann's just the best!

Thank you for your kind words, too!


It's been a few months since I heard any news of Ann...there has been slow steady improvement though. Being such a vibrant, full-of-life woman I know she struggled with not being able to do all she had. I was so fortunate to be able to spend 2 separate weeks camping with her...one in northern AZ in 2004 and one on the San Juan River in 2005. I'll let you know if I hear any updates. Is there a better way for me to communicate with you? Is this giving you my email address? I'd be happy to share it.
I envy you!

No, I don't get your email address from LJ, but you can rite me at kate(at)cathyjohnson.info, and thank you!
What a beautiful painting!!! You pulled it off in spades! I'm sure your vet was very touched by your wonderful portrayal of his good friend. I may have to talk to you about portraits of our dogs....dogs just doesn't begin to describe them!--Carol C.
I know just what you mean, Carol! They're family. And yes, he was very, very pleased!

"this is a picture of love"

That was the inscription my 3-year old son dictated to my husband to write on a birthday card my tot had picked out for me (the card actually said "Happy Birthday Auntie" but that didn't matter). And that's what this image conveys, both the love of the dog for his family, and the love you have for animals and for making art. Congratulations. I adore this painting. I wish we had such a great vet in our area.

Re: "this is a picture of love"

Thanks, Jana! LOVE the birthday card story...

Pete really is a wonderful guy--I'm SO glad he was pleased!