Saturday, December 28, 2013

7. I Have White Hair Because I Have Dogs

Watercolor painting by Renny Spencer
I HAVE white hair because I have dogs.

WHEN I was much younger I dreamed of having EVERYTHING. To be an artist- to have a family- to own a house with a picket fence (a brown one though) with lots of dogs. So I went out and got them. At one point our house held a husband and me, 7 children (3 of them foster kids), 2 Bullmastiffs, a Samoyed, a Dalmatian, a Papillon, and 11 cats.  I joined a Canasta group, made Halloween costumes, and ran a home business selling woodcraft. I bought boots and make-up and hair color.

AS TIME went on, I tweaked the details of my dream. I had to choose between my art and my husband, and (after 20 years deciding), chose my art. I exchanged the mortgage for monthly rental in a series of small but charming homes, and struggled to keep on top of things while raising 4 daughters. I started giving up things that weren't important. Who needs TV?

THE GIRLS eventually left home, and my career and my dogs kept me busy. I felt I could finally get a studio away from home and found the perfect spot. It was September 1st, 2001. I took the plunge. Two weeks later the bombing in New York shook the world, the recession hit and I didn't have a commission for a year.

I KEPT my studio. But I gave up everything that wasn't home, food or vet bills. I stopped driving to other places- gas was too expensive. I gave up wearing make-up and finally, I stopped coloring my hair.  I don't miss any of it.

RECENTLY, I've switched my focus to dog portraits, and business is booming. I paint every day. Two of my daughters are living here in town, and I have a grandson. I still don't have television or a cell-phone, and I walk to work. I love my family, my friends, my dog, and even my white hair.

LIFE has weeded out the nonsense and left me with the stuff of dreams.