My wife and I lived “Out West” for a total of almost ten years before we moved back to Vermont. First off, I love Vermont. We’ve traveled all over the U.S. and seen some truly amazing places but I can say with confidence that when the weather is alright here, VT is one of the most strikingly beautiful areas of the country. That being said, I still pine for the big mountains of the Western U.S. I miss exploring huge mountains in both the summer and winter. There’s a certain payoff you get when standing atop a mountain west of the Mississippi that has a distinctly different feel than here in New England.
Anyway, I got a call a few weeks ago from a woman in Idaho, just outside of Jackson Hole. If you’ve never been to Jackson, the place freaking rules. The mountain itself is badass–over 4,000 feet of elevation and some truly rowdy terrain make for a pretty incomparable ski/snowboard experience. But I digress. We chatted for a while, swapping stories about rescuing dogs from the pound, our mutual love of mountain life, etc. The crux of the conversation was the handsome devil pictured here; this is Zeus, flanked by the Grand Teton.
I love my job on a pretty consistent basis, but getting the chance to render an animal like this, so clearly full of character, while also being able to sprinkle in a place I so fondly remember visiting was just uncommonly awesome. I was given total creative license with this assignment, asked to capture the departed in his natural surroundings. Like pretty much every project, it’s always a little daunting to get started. But once I nailed down a sketch I liked it just rolled.
As I neared completion I came to see this piece as connecting disparate but important parts of my life: art, dogs, mountains, the west, etc. I was, as I always am, a little misty when I boxed up the finished product and shipped him westward but knowing he’s going to a good home lessened the blow substantially. Not to get all sappy, but getting to meet people like the woman that commissioned me to do this piece and having the chance to render such a unique scene is inspiring and fills me with gratitude…