watercolor on paper, 8x10, copyright Erin Rogers Pickering
Recently a friend asked if I would do a portrait of the beloved family dog that they had while she was growing up, as an anniversary gift for her parents. I love her - and her parents - so agreed immediatetly.
Then, I got the photo of the dog. Yikes. Just one reference photo, an all black dog in shadow! With obviously no chance of seeing the dog myself. It was way more than I bargained for --- and was not at all sure how to proceed.
First, I avoided. Then panicked. Then avoided again. Then dipped my toes in by doing the initial sketches and congratulated myself on progress. Yeah right. The drawing was the easy part and I knew it. I also knew come hell or high water I was going to complete this painting. I can be very stubborn.
So I did some research on painting black fur, and looked at dozens and dozens of photos of black dogs, and truly examined the photo I was given.
And inch by inch I made progress. At times difficult, other times fun, frustrating, informative, experimental, but it pushed me to try. And to try. And by trying I learned and I grew and found I could do it - and succeed.
So like my challenge of going, and staying, safely gluten free. Easy enough to agree to, but a huge learning curve... avoidance, research reseach and more research, days of discouragment and accomplishment, days I saw my health improving rapidly, along with those of backsliding. And I continued and pushed and grew... And along the way became a baker, a blogger, a supporter, a resource, an advocate, and a painter of black fur! (and let's not forget - healthy!)
My friend loved the painting, and during our visit we discussed celiac disease and it's many manifestations. She had many questions for me, and was calling her doctor the next day to get tested. On the drive home I realized these challenges really did go hand in hand.