At the beginning of this year, I experienced one of my first real losses. After plenty battles and fights, my golden retriever, Murphy, passed away. It was an excruciating and devastating feeling. In memoir, my grandmother and I went to a local paint and sip shop and participated in their monthly “Paint Your Pet” night. When we signed up for the class, we were asked to send in a picture of our pets, so that their own sketch artist could draw our animals and have it ready for when we showed up. Below is the picture I sent in of Murphy. I wrote down what happened this night so that I could “live blog” about my experience painting Murphy.
6:10 PM: Grandma shows up at my door to pick me up. She comes inside to see Alonso and Fez. I knew we were already late, but I can’t say no to grandma!
6:14 PM: Grandma and I leave my apartment to drive to Canvas and Cabernet, the shop holding “Paint Your Pet” night.
6:23 PM: Grandma got sidetracked talking to me and missed her turn. We’re trying a different route.
6:25 PM: We’re lost.
6:33 PM: Found it! We parked in the parking garage in Aksarben Village and walked around the corner into Canvas and Cabernet. There’s a lot of chatter and loud noises.
6:35 PM: I immediately run my eyes around the shop to find my drawing, but before I can search too much, grandma and I are greeted and told to have a seat by our paintings. She said they were just waiting for us to arrive and we would begin shortly.
6:36 PM: I found my drawing of Murphy. The sketch artist is extremely talented.
6:40 PM: We’re told to grab acrylic paint. We have to find what colors we want to paint the background and the outline of our animal. Instead of the wood background, I chose to paint him in front of a bright green grass background. I wanted his fur to shine more than his outline so I chose a coral/pink color to outline him in.
6:52 PM: I definitely like the grass background. I’ve decided to paint a little crazy. I’m using lots of different shades of green and dabbing white as I go along.
7:09 PM: I finished my background, and now I’m working on getting his outline in. The background was easy for me. Not so much for my grandma. She used to be a painter when she was younger, so she’s a really big perfectionist.
7:14 PM: Everyone’s paintings are looking good so far. We have two artist guides and they’ve both spent a lot of time helping everyone get exactly the look they want and we haven’t even gotten onto our actual pets really yet.
7:21 PM: I’m done with my outline. Definitely looks strange so far. I really hope it comes out looking like Murphy. I’m planning on hanging in in my living room with his collar.
7:29 PM: The artist got back on stage and stopped us from our work. She wants us to move on. Looks like grandma’s already a little behind. Now we’re going to work on the main parts of our animal. The artist tells us to pick one “medium” color of our animal. If our animal is black and white, she told us to paint the whole animal grey and then we’d go back and add highlights and lowlights.
7:32 PM: I hate painting Murphy all one color. He’s all one color but mostly highlights and shades. I decided not to follow the artist’s advice.
7:34 PM: Started using the same technique how I painted the background to paint Murphy. Loving it more than the one shade. Just need to make sure I don’t make him too orange or too red.
7:41 PM: Definitely coming out better so far. I’ll stick to my own technique this time.
7:52 PM: Grandma is way behind. I hope she hurries up.
7:58 PM: Finished his coat.
8:01 PM: The artist gets back on stage and explains to the group how to add the highlights and lowlights to our animals.
8:04 PM: After trying to hurry grandma along a bit, I decide I need something more to Murphy. This picture was taken when he was older. I need to add some of his “old” to him.
8:15 PM: I added in some white spots where he was showing his old age. Starting to feel more like Murphy. I’m already getting so excited to see the final project.
8:19 PM: Grandma still isn’t done painting the overall “medium” tone to her pet. She’s spending too much time worried about something she is going to cover up.
8:28 PM: Added even more to Murphy. I added some black near his ears because there were shadows there and I wanted his ears to “pop” more in the picture. I drew the black downward and jumped ahead and filled in his nose.
8:31 PM: I’m ahead on my painting compared to everyone else and my grandma is behind everyone else. Ironic.
8:43 PM: Artist gets back on stage to talk more about the “little features.” She asks us to stay away from the eyes, but she wants to use this last time to focus on everything else we want added to our painting.
8:50 PM: Here I am, so far.
8:58 PM: I go get my free drink we get with our attendance from the bar. I grab a soda and head back to grandma. She seems frustrated. Class is suppose to end in a half hour and she’s still not done with her undertones. I wish I could help. I don’t want her to hurry too much because I want her painting to turn out well.
9:11 PM: Reflection time over. Artist is back on stage. She quickly discusses how to do the eyes on the animal. It’s very confusing.
9:14 PM: I get ahold of one of the artist guides. She re-explains how to do the eyes with me. I mix water with a muddy brown since Murphy had brown eyes. I cover the entire white space with the “muddy water” look.
9:16 PM: Now that the watery eyes have dried, I start to add in some black for the pupils.
9:17 PM: I need a break. I barely did any of the black for the pupils, but I’m getting frustrated because I want his eyes to really look like him.
9:21 PM: I get back to my painting. I just dug in and did the black. I actually like how it’s looking. I add two plops of white in the center.
9:28 PM: It looks like Murphy, but something is missing.
9:31 PM: I call the artist over again.
9:33 PM: The artist helps me add in some teeth for Murphy’s “smile.” He always had this dumbfounded smile on his face. He was always the happiest and most go-lucky dog I’ve ever met. It really helps the painting look like Murphy. My grandma hugs me. What a special way to celebrate such a special dog.
9:36 PM: My final painting.
9:45 PM: Grandma isn’t done with her painting, but we had a really great night together. I can’t wait to come back and paint more with her, although none else will compare to being able to paint something so near and dear to my heart.
9:51 PM: Grandma and I pose for a picture for Canvas and Cabernet.