The Story Behind the Painting

December 30th, 2015

So my New Year’s resolution is to tell the story behind my paintings more often — since almost every one has one! The Winter Solstice seemed like an auspicious day to start, so here goes…

Embracing the Strange(r) by Rosemary G. Conroy, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 36"

Embracing the Strange(r) by Rosemary G. Conroy Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 36″ © 2016

This painting is inspired by a real live polar bear I met way up north in Manitoba in 2013. On a windswept tundra, I spent an afternoon observing this majestic, awe-inspiring wild animal.

I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to see him and be able to drink in his beauty, power, and mystery. I’m not ashamed to tell you I cried. It was that awesome.

AND the next day I got up early and there he was again — just on the other side of the fence that protected our lodge. I sat alone with him for almost twenty minutes — it was such a moving, powerful episode in my life. Eye to eye, face to face, heart to heart with an 800-lb wild creature — holy moley. He could have left at any moment, but he stayed. For whatever reason, he stayed. I felt blessed.
I’ve always longed to be able to communicate with animals in a meaningful way. But until that happens, I paint them over and over, trying to immortalize them in my art as one way of knowing them better.

I’ve come to realize that my paintings are like prayers: sincere offerings of thanks for the inspiration and joy these wild creatures give me; my humble invocation of their beauty and power; and perhaps, most of all, an ardent plea that they continue to exist in this world.

(If you look closely, you can see my prayers for the polar bear literally inscribed on the painting.)

Who’s a Good Boy?!?!

February 2nd, 2015
happythedog.jpg

Such a sweet boy and such an impact he had on me

I was thinking about the “why” of what I do — painting animals over and over — and I suddenly had this memory pop into my head.

I was about 19 years old and sitting in a restaurant with my boyfriend of the time. I had just found out that my dog “Happy” had died that day.

The memory I flashed back on was of me sitting in that restaurant and BAWLING my eyes out over the demise of Happy. And I didn’t just cry — I sobbed hysterically, with tears pouring out of my face and I’m sure snot coming out my nose. I was completely overcome with grief. I remember being so embarrassed later by how wildly emotional I had been in public — the other diners in the restaurant must have been pretty horrified too. Yikes.

When I had that memory resurface out of the blue yesterday I also had the thought — “Wow Happy’s death marked the end of my childhood, really.”

You see, Happy was more than just a pet. My two other siblings were four and eight years older than me and both male. I was forever trying to keep up with them or do what they did and being constantly thwarted by both being so much younger AND a girl. It constantly outraged me and probably explains my competitive nature somewhat. Plus both my brothers were terrible teases and loved to play practical jokes on me. You never knew when a cup of water might be propped up on the door you were about to open or someone was hiding behind the shower curtain ready to pop out and yell Boo! (I learned to be a keen observer thanks to them too, I suppose!)

So Happy was my refuge as only a dog can be. He was good-natured and goofy and very tolerant of being hugged and petted. We got him when I was five and I remember spending what felt like hours pouring out my little girl heart to him. Of course he TOTALLY understood me. He was in complete agreement about how unfair it was that I couldn’t be an altar boy or be in the balsa wood derby or play with my brother’s GI Joes when he was so perfect for Barbie and had a JEEP. That dog was the perfect little brother I never had.

Happy gave me the solace and sweetness of unconditional love. It’s no wonder I cried so hard when he died. Who wouldn’t mourn out loud the end of such a bond? And I suppose it’s no wonder that deep impression lingers to this day in my art.

BTW: The painting above was a warm-up I did for a commission of a my husband’s cousin’s dog who is a totally different breed. (Happy was a mutt — half poodle/half terrier of some sort.) But every time I see it, I think “That’s Happy!”

Look at those big brown eyes — he still totally gets what I am saying!

 

 

 

 

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