When I was 17 years old, I was a passenger in a SUV accident. Surviving this event became a defining point in my life. When the doctors diagnosed me with permanent paralysis, I began a journey to health and healing. In 1996 a four legged companion joined me on my path; Tyler J Worthington, my black Labrador Retriever service dog. We were together for the next decade and his love has truly transformed my life and who I am.
Dogs have the incredible ability to teach us about love, acceptance, gratitude, and most of all, joy. As Tyler taught me these truths my world opened up in amazing ways. I was able to do things I never thought possible, including: playing on a national championship wheelchair basketball team, traveling the world, earning a couple of degrees, finding and marrying my soul mate, and giving birth to two children.
In 2005, while pregnant with my son, I was placed on prolonged bed rest. I did some sketches of Tyler who was my constant bedside companion. When my son was born perfect and healthy I took these sketches and made a gratitude painting of Tyler. When friends saw it they asked me to paint their dogs and it grew. In 2007 I started a website, muttbutt.com, to display the dog paintings mostly just for friends (at the time 2 1/2 year old Oskar helped pick out the name). Things grew again when I started getting emails with stories and photos about amazing dogs and other people’s health journeys through the muttbutt.com website, myspace and facebook. Then in July 2008 the AZ Daily Star ran a story which featured the paintings and things continued to transform, evolve, and expand.
The dog paintings which began 2005 were the beginning of an artistic part of my life I really didn’t know existed.
I had taken some art classes in high school and in my teens considered art school, but after my accident in 1991 I set painting aside to pursue a more “practical” career (and one that might include stability and health insurance). After an almost a 14 year hiatus, and no formal training, I began creating art again by painting dogs.
The dog paintings started something that has grown into a calling- to create art that cultivates joy, healing, hope.
I have completed quite a few paintings now and expanded into painting other things besides dogs. I am privileged to live in this magical place called Tucson, AZ- with breathtaking mountains, sunsets, quirky man-made landmarks, and a diverse community of people and traditions. I started a series called “Pollos del Pueblo” when David Aguirre of Dinnerware Gallery put out a call for “Chicken Art” and I decided to answer with some silly hens running to Club Congress, and from there the paintings grew into a whole series of paintings of chickens visiting memorable Tucson locations. A painting made for a fundraiser for Tucson’s “All Souls Procession” grew into a series celebrating the unique multicultural way Tucson celebrates Dia de los Muertos (All Saints Day). More and more my love of this place I live has began to show itself in my art.
In September of 2009 I had my first solo show at Steven Derk’s Gallery 801. It has been a really fun journey the past 10 years making and showing art. I appreciate your role in the process. It’s much more interesting, difficult, exciting, terrifying, and rewarding to create art that I know someone will look at and interact with. The learning and growing continues with each piece. I look forward to what the future holds. I truly appreciate your taking the time to be part of my art and part of the journey. Leave a note and say “hi” on my guestbook or click over to my twitter or facebook page.