"Lessons From A Dog"
Many of you who know me, know that I have an affinity for Paris. One of the greatest influences in my life was traveling to Paris and visiting great works of art in museums such as The Louvre and The Museé D'Orsay. I really love French cuisine and being inspired by spending time in cafés, and visiting chateaus, and the royal palaces of France, especially the Palace of Versailles. Being "An American in Paris" changed my entire perspective on life. I don't know what it was about Paris that somehow awoke all my senses to the beauty of life. Every where I went my senses were fired up by how beautiful a city can be. When it comes down to it, I was "in love". But my love was for the city of Paris. It was the kind of love of being ALIVE and "living in the moment".
Of course I love America, but my heart is always yearning for Paris! How could I not? Paris changed my life forever and is now permanently embedded in my psyche. Sometimes this yearning for Paris is so bad I don't know what to do with myself and feelings. In fact, that's why I became an artist. It was interesting because when I first started painting, I had no training. Naturally, I tried really hard to paint realistically but I just couldn't. I wanted to find a good art teacher to take me on as an apprentice but could never find anyone who was willing. So instead everything I created came out totally FRENCH!!! It was as if I had become an artist by osmosis. Of course I got criticized for this. But I couldn't help it. Honestly, I didn't care because as an artist I was having so much fun "living in the moment". To this day, I still can't help. I've learned to come to terms with it.
Being American, I love America but sometimes I still get sad because my heart and mind is always in Paris. So it really hurts me to hear about violence and terrorism in the city I love so much... Sometimes I miss that feeling of waking to a strong cup of coffee and fresh baguette smothered with butter. I love taking a stroll down to Trocadero, the Champs D'Elysé, walking through the gardens of parque de tuileries, seeing classic sculptures, and spending the day seeing the great works of art in the Louvre, and the Museé D'Orsay. Here in America I love spending my free time listening to French music and creating works of art inspired by the city of Paris. I am always trying to regain that feeling but sometimes it's hard, especially when I keep seeing so many having their morning cup of coffee at McDonalds. It makes me really sad. For me, I knew I had to find a way I could "recapture" that feeling of living in the moment of being in Paris. One day I found love in the oddest of places. I decided to rescue a little miniature Dachshund named Oliver from the animal shelter. Little did I know that this little creature would also change my life forever and teach me things I had forgotten to remember. The day I brought Oliver home, of course, it was quite a change in my life. I was very nervous and scared at first because it was kind of like bringing home a baby from the hospital without any instructions on how to be a good parent. So I started reading all the literature that I could get my hands on. I had to figure out what he ate, get his vaccination shots, etc. He was completely untrained. So, of course, I started to teach him "Come, Sit, Down, and Stay" and immediately put him on a regular schedule so I knew when he had to go out to potty or pee.
Now he is so well behaved that he has begun to teach me what's really important about life. For example, he has no sense of time. He knows nothing of the past or future. He only knows how to "live in the present". This is SO IMPORTANT, I will repeat it. He only knows how to "live in the present". Oliver only lives in the moment and only knows NOW. Believe me, there's an important lesson in this... He also gives me so much joy and is always making me laugh because he's such a character. My happy-go-lucky "Little Mr. Waggy Tail" is always running around wagging his tail. Even when he sleeps he sleeps completely upside down snoring with his feet straight up with a little smiling smirk on his face. He is constantly reminding me why I am an artist who loves and appreciates life. Oliver has even modeled for several of my new works of art inspired by him and my love for France. Unlike the artworld, he never criticizes or judges me for my works of art, even when I fail. He just loves me as I am. He just wants me to be happy and return his love. If you want to know the truth, let me confess something: It's not true that I rescued him. If you want to know the truth, this little dog actually rescued ME! I hope my taking the time to write this article inspires you to consider adopting an animal in a shelter in need of a loving family. Trust me! You may might be surprised to learn that you are really the one being "rescued".
Oliver sitting on a chair inspired by Versailles in my "American in Paris" Gallery