What's in a name? A portrait of Small

Small she was in voice only.  But she bore her ironic name with a quiet dignity.  For years she had to share her home with a tiny agile and dominant feline with a prior claim to the digs and the owner and sporting the name of a great American author.   Life can be unfair.  Except that Small outlived her rival companion and for a few years became the only cat in the room.  She seemed to come into her own as a soloist.  This portrait was commissioned posthumously and painted from supplied photos. 

commissioned portrait of a grey and white cat oil painting  #catpainting Shannon Reynolds
Small, oil on canvas panel, 8" x 8" ©2016


Norfolk Terrier Portrait

Could there be a better antidote to black dog angst than a tiny, smiling, slightly unkempt, adorable Norfolk Terrier?   This is a portrait of 12 year old Abbey, still puppy-like and much loved by her owners.  I painted this portrait as a commissioned piece from a good assortment of supplied photos and enjoyed every moment with this imperturbably happy creature.

Norfolk Terrier, dog portrait, fine art, commissioned pet portrait, oil painting, © Shannon Reynolds 2016
Abbey, Norfolk Terrier, oil on canvas wrapped board, 8" x 8"

From the mockumentary, Best In Show, here are the lyrics to "God loves a Terrier" written by Eugene Levy and performed by he and Catherine O'Hara in the movie:

God loves a terrier
yes he does
God loves a terrier
that’s because
brown sturdy bright and true
they give their hearts to you
God didn’t miss a stitch
be it dog or be it bitch
when he made the Norwich merrier
with his cute little ‘derrier’
yes God loves a terrier!


Black Dog, leashed

detail of oil painting of a black dog, leashed and waiting, by Shannon Reynolds
Black dog, leashed, (detail) oil on panel 12" x 12"

Black dogs get a bad rap. Winston Churchill famously referred to his depression as a black dog.  But in Ian McEwan's postwar novel Black Dogs, which I read a few years ago, the black dogs symbolize a greater malignity, something not specified directly, but glimpsed peripherally as a looming menace over Europe. And then there's the so-called black dog syndrome which suggests that black dogs are less likely to be adopted--perhaps because of their association with depression and evil.

oil painting of a black dog, leashed and waiting by Shannon Reynolds
Black dog, leashed, oil on panel 12" x 12"

I was painting this black dog stoically waiting for his owner when I heard about the death of groundbreaking editor of Elle magazine in the UK, Sally Brampton. She'd written a book about her own struggle with depression called Shoot the Damn Dog, which I haven't read, but which resonated a little as I painted with all these associations in my head.

This dog, leashed and waiting, looks too benign to be a threat, but I won't discount him entirely. It's easy to glimpse black dogs today in the lead-up to the American election, the refugee crisis, global warming... I really should stop listening to public radio in the studio.