Breath | Spirit | Soul
Anima is latin for breath, spirit, soul, or the vital life principle that lays beyond the rational mind.
The animals that surround us are windows through which we can glimpse our own souls. This is what I aim to express through my paintings.
“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.” – George W Carver, Scientist
The animals I’ve painted have all lived on our farm. The process of presence and intense study required to paint them has opened a deeper relationship than I thought possible. I have learned so much and received so many gifts from these magical beings that I feel compelled to pay it forward through my paintings.
Moving to Vernon ten years ago and hobby farming, while incredibly rewarding, has not been the idyllic fantasy I had envisioned. There are truths about animals and farming that I was willfully blind to seeing. My ethical and emotional internal conflict in raising chickens for eggs and meat could fill volumes.
Can one love a chicken that’s raised for slaughter?
The answer is yes, emphatically yes. The moment the chicken becomes a commodity, I separate from it, the chicken, objectified and the relationship; transactional. I impoverish not only the chicken, but myself from the riches of our shared experience.
Animals are sovereign beings. I’ve realized my worry, pity, needing to “save” them, or keeping them alive at all costs is more about me needing to feel like a “good” person than it is about the actual welfare and destiny of the animal. It is an absolute privilege to share my life with theirs and care for them with grace, gratitude and reverence.
Snickers was in the process of dying, slowly deteriorating with age, but not so simply as a gradual decline, rather blissful good days peppered with agonizing bad days, leaving us in gut- wrenching uncertainty in how to proceed.
With too many roosters, I read I could save Weasley by keeping him in a rooster-only pen. He died as a result of his injuries in a fight to the death with another rooster.
What I’ve learned is when you choose to be in relationship with animals (or anyone) there is NO avoiding heartbreak. To try and avoid it is to either withhold from being in true relationship or numb emotion which comes at the cost of the boundless joys of life in all it’s complexity.
What you love, loves you.
What I long for is to share is the essence of something beyond the label “chicken”, “horse, “cat”, but the intricate beauty, complexity and depth, an access to the breath and soul that animates all of us, that we don’t always allow ourselves the time to truly see.