This has been a week for reflection here in my East Nashville studio. For the first time in years I have no portraits on my easel. And, since my self-medication of choice is work, I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff, a lot of memories. Some of it was because I made the mistake of watching the Academy of Country Music awards. Chris Stapleton’s “Maggie’s Song” left me in tears for hours.So, in a break with my normal reticence to talk about myself (I never post anything personal, other than the art), I wanted to tell you why the pet portraits mean so much to me.In 1999, I had a bad bicycle crash and was in a sling from a broken collar bone for months. Since I could not ride, I helped with registration at an event in Goodlettsville. While there, we found a very small puppy who had been abandoned at the school where we were based. Long story short, I took the puppy home.Even though we had him checked out by my good friend and veterinarian, he developed parvo. But my friend actually nursed him though it, and he came home with us.The tiny puppy turned out to be an 80 pound part Pyrenees, part Border Collie. His name was Buddy, and he became my best friend for 13 years. Seriously, we went everywhere together. He loved to ride in the car and mess with people in other cars, particularly young ladies. He would flirt with them and get them laughing hysterically. Age caught up with him, and his hips gave out to the point he could no longer walk, and we had to let him go. Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had started doing some pet portraits, but it was over a year before I could bring myself to paint him. Fortunately, he was quite the ham and we had tons of good photos of him. When I finally finished the portrait, I felt a certain kind of peace about him (though I confess I’m crying as I write this).Here is his portrait as it hangs in my dining room. I see him everyday. and remember how much I loved him. This is really why I do the pet portraits. Thanks, stay safe.