Friday 26 October 2012

Gone to the Dogs

I have once again taken my art on the road and this time my mobile gallery is on site at the largest dog show in Canada! The "Travel the World" dog show takes place at the Abbotsford Tradex every October thanks to the efforts of the Lower Mainland Dog Fanciers. For four days the Tradex becomes a hub of canine activity, with daily competitions, demonstrations and a trade show of products and services for the discerning dog owner. Pet dogs are not allowed to attend, but there are competing and performing dogs in abundance: enormous, tiny and in-between sized, long haired, short haired, silky, coarse and curly coated, runners, diggers, hunters, herders, guarders, athletes, lap sitters and sofa snugglers, all under one roof. I'm displaying a range of my artwork, from lifelike coloured-pencil portraits, to lively silk paintings, plus a selection of silk scarves like the one pictured above that playfully celebrates the diversity of the dog world.  

My silk painting of a frolicking boxer, "Having a Ball at the Beach"

It goes without saying that an event like this provides dog watching opportunities second to none. I have seen sleek Salukis slinking past my booth, and toy like Coton de Tulears (a breed with which I was previously unfamiliar) with their snow-white powder-puff coats, not to mention a Newfoundland dog the size of a pony who strode past in a stately fashion. On one trip to the coffee stand I caught sight of a graceful Afghan hound shimmering like a mirage with its coat of long, gossamer hair, and later I glimpsed what I think was a puli, a stocky little herding dog whose mop-like coat resembles Rastafarian dreadlocks. And of course there are my personal favourites: the collies. I almost walked into a post gawking at a stunning blue merle male headed for the show ring, and had the infinite pleasure of meeting a young female smooth collie (the same breed as my own Riley only with a short coat) who is in training to be a service dog.

My booth couldn't be better situated for entertainment, with a great view of an arena where dogs are performing for show visitors. I have seen dancing dogs, obedient dogs, dogs who could jump really high and others who spin, or roll over repeatedly, or slink along on their bellies on command. Some have pulled carts, some have found their way through wooden "tunnels" in search of mechanical rats, others have clambered over obstacles, and still others have simply romped around and demonstrated their good natured, playful personalities. In the "Meet the Breed" area which surrounds this ring there are plucky representatives of Scotland's terrier clans, lumbering mastiffs whose wagging tails can pack a mighty wallop, a Portugese water dog who is inseparable from the stuffed toy he totes around, and even whippets wearing fleece pyjamas, all acting as ambassadors of their respective breeds and welcoming visitors to learn more about them. Their owners aren't shy about talking about them, and their eyes light up as they describe their dogs quirks, strengths and sometimes less-desirable qualities so that anyone interested in obtaining such a dog will know what both the pleasures and pitfalls of the breed can be.

The one thing every dog has in common is the obvious joy they bring to their humans. I have heard many stories of love, loyalty and faithful companionship, from tales of ageing dachshunds to proud boastings about newly-arrived Bichon Frise puppies. The stories are told with a smile that is sometimes wistful when a departed friend is the topic, but a smile nonetheless. These canines are family. And in the way of modern families, many owners whose dogs are waiting for them at home carry their precious pups' photos on their smartphones, so I've been able to not only hear their stories but see their pictures too!

I've used my time here, when I'm not chatting with visitors, to complete this coloured-pencil portrait of my Riley (aka the Collie Princess). It's been a fine way to not only show off my own wonderful dog but she's also provided a lovely subject with which to demonstrate my skills.

In a couple of more days it will all be over. The champions will have been awarded their ribbons and all will head home with their humans to await the next competition. And I'll be packing up my pencils and paintings, and heading back to the studio with visions of dogs of all shapes and sizes dancing in my head.

1 comment:

  1. What a great description of the show - I can almost hear the chaos, smell the scents of dogs and dog paraphernalia, see the performers in the ring. And what a beautiful portrait of Riley; can't wait to see her again.