And the Beast Rested

And the Beast Rested      11 in. X 22 in    Oil on Linen  

Not For Sale


For full disclosure I hate the ‘Velveteen Rabbit.’   Perhaps you remember this children’s story written by Margery Williams, which is considered a classic.  For those of you who don’t remember, it is a story about a little boy who receives a Velveteen Rabbit for Christmas.  The rabbit learns that a toy becomes real if (IF!) its owner really and truly loves it and the rabbit greatly desires this. (For some reason a stream of consciousness doesn’t constitute as ‘real’ in this world, only skin).  He is loved but there are hardships along the way, he becomes shabby and begins to fall apart from decay.  In the end he is stuffed in a sack with junk to be burned and he sheds an actual tear in great sadness.  The rabbit becomes real but he never gets to play with his friend again. Okay, perhaps this is a bit harsh of a summary but I am channeling five year old me.


I believe that it was supposed to teach children empathy but for an already empathetic and overly-sensitive child, disaster ensued.   The guilt began.  When I rolled over in bed on top of my stuffed animals I asked myself, am I crushing and suffocating them? Are they sad because I not loving them enough? Will they end up in the trash crying for all eternity?   Thus, my lifelong awareness of anthropomorphism began.   


Fast forward 25 years.


I have a fuzzy child named Ellie Mae.  She is an insatiable beast.  I give her toys of all kinds but her favorites are the ones stuffed with squeakers.  Sure she may be happy chewing them for a while but at some point and for no apparent reason, they must die and she happily pulls them apart in search of their plastic, noisy ‘souls,’ as my husband and I refer to it.  And I love my beast, as she is my child, so I am obligated to get her new toys to replace the old.  As we are in the store, picking out new stuffed animals, I cannot help but look into their eyes and think of the carnage that awaits them.   They are to be a sacrifice to a greedy and ravenous beast.  If they are self-aware as the Velveteen rabbit was, a tortured life awaits them as they will never be loved. 


How often I have come into my living room to a gruesome massacre, a battlefield filled with separated limbs and innards strewn about.  This painting was meant to be from the perspective of these noble creatures, particularly a soulful and pitifully rumpled dolphin who has been sewn up on several occasions only to be put back into battle.  I haven’t decided if his expression in this painting is relief as the beast finally rests or if he is miserable, reaching out the viewer for help.   


It was important to me to get the ‘feel’ of the room.  In order to capture natural lighting I waited until a specific time in the afternoon when the light would fall upon the objects as I intended.  I had to re-shoot several times, fortunately Ellie was very cooperative (particularly when cheese was involved).  I wanted to portray a long depth.  I intentionally blurred everything beyond the dolphin and darkened areas such as the fireplace which were distracting. The strong lighting generated an intense reflection which allowed me to loosen up with my brushwork and inherently created balance and harmony with my colors.  If you sit and concentrate, ignoring the rest of the world for a moment, you can almost feel as if you are there, in this world of paint. Perhaps this is the view of another tortured soul.  You can sense the silence and stillness of this aftermath except for, perhaps, the slight snore of this whiskered beast, her warm breath falling upon you, hoping she does not awaken.


Now if you excuse me, it’s time to find my old Teddy in the closet and give him a hug. Thanks for viewing my latest painting.