My work is about bringing forth happiness—and what makes us happier than the animals we love?
My inspiration for the “Little Animals” series happened while on a flight from New Orleans to Portland. It was Thanksgiving day and there was a layover in Las Vegas. I was reading a biography about Mrs. Brooke Astor, the grand dame of New York City high society. By the time of her death (Mrs. Astor lived to be 104 years old) she had accumulated over 200 paintings of small animals, primarily dogs. She found them charming and they gave her much pleasure. She started encouraging her dear friend, Annette De La Renta to do the same. As a result of their influence, almost every parlor in the Upper West Side was adorned with small paintings of little animals. It was while I was sitting in the Las Vegas Airport, the sounds of slot machines ringing and people either crying with delight or sorrow, that I came across this chapter of Mrs. Astor’s life. I thought it was marvelous and as the bells kept ringing, and the lights kept flashing, I realized this is something that I needed to do. ” I’m going to go home and start painting portraits of small animals with the intention that they bring happiness to others”. Like most things in life, inspiration hits when least expected and usually in the most unlikely of places. I have found this to be an extremely satisfying project and it is such an honor to paint these animals, especially the ones that have great significance to you. Thank You!