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I think this is my 4th post today. Geez. Someone tell me to shut the hell up already! Or don’t. Maybe wait until after I finish this one, then tell me to shut my bourbonhole.

Tonight at Artistic Abandon, we were doing our quarterly pet portraits class. Normally, I dread the class, because it’s a shit ton of work for me prior to class (tracking down everyone’s photos, getting them sized and color corrected and printed, sketching them onto the canvases, etc), and it’s kind of organized chaos during class, especially at the end of class when everyone needs us to fix what they’ve done and make them look like they have eyes instead of black, soulless, pits of despair. Tonight was no different, though it was a nice, low maintenance group at least. But at the end, when most of the painters had gone, I started working on one woman’s painting putting the finishing touches on it to make it actually look like her particular pup. I heard sniffling behind me, but kind of ignored it and kept painting and bringing out the dog’s personality. When the sniffling didn’t stop, I turned around and saw that she was crying. Apparently, the doggy had passed away about a month ago. So I gave her a hug and started asking questions about the dog, and making little changes to the painting as she talked about it that weren’t really visible in the low quality photo we were working from. The other girl that was still finishing up her painting said that her first pet portrait with us a few months ago had been of her kitty that had died, and that she and her husband both cried when she brought it home. She’s done several paintings with us in memory of pets that have passed on since then, and it’s really cathartic to pay tribute in this way.

Sometimes in the clamor of people demanding more and more of me in exchange for less and less, I forget that what we do at the studio can be a real gift. Whether it’s just a fun night out to ease some tension and get a break so a mom doesn’t throttle her kids, or giving someone a loving way to honor a furry family member, we get to help people tap into something they don’t normally get to tap into (sometimes they just tap into a beer, but still, there’s creativity involved). And tonight we did that. The woman we were helping showed me the honor of letting me see a vulnerable side that I’m sure most of the public doesn’t get to see, and I got to validate that and let her know it’s not only okay, but right and good because it comes from a place of love. Tonight, I feel very lucky to do what I do.

Please remind me of that tomorrow when I start bitching again.