“Skill in living, awareness of belonging to the world, delight in being part of the world, always tends to involve knowing our kinship as animals with animals. " Ursula K. Le Guin from Late in the Day
I find the eyes of animals magical and irresistible. Meeting the eyes of a domesticated or wild animal gives me a special sense of connection - of kinship - to echo the word Ursula K. Le Guin uses in her quote above. As I'm painting an animal, I can't wait to paint the eyes - and sometimes I don't! - because that's when I feel closest to my subject and feel he or she come alive on my watercolor paper.
Yet I also feel mystery when I look into an animal's eyes because of my lack of truly knowing what they are feeling or thinking. I can only guess their mindset, and only in my human-centric way, arrogantly giving them feelings and thoughts that I would have, perhaps assuming too much kinship. A beautiful book that describes this struggle to feel kinship, yet also allow for the possibility of a wholly different mindset is Beyond Words by Carl Safina.
I painted the pictured above of Fraggle, a dog that was up for adoption at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. He has been adopted, but there are many more dogs, cats, horses, bunnies, parrots and other animals in shelters, waiting for a forever home; waiting for someone to look into their eyes and feel that kinship, even if it is only a guess at what they are feeling.
I am compelled to paint more of the animals that are waiting for that connection, with the hope that my paintings will inspire more humans to "delight in being part of the world...knowing our kinship as animals with animals."
Look for more paintings to come to connect you with their these unique creatures seeking kinship.