Friday, May 22, 2009

Mulling Over Madison

It has taken me quite awhile to make this illustration. Not the actual drawing part - that ended up only taking a few days. It has been the "mulling over" part.

You see, this idea has been rolling around in my head since last July when my dear friend's Great Pyrenees, Madison, passed away. I KNEW I wanted to draw a picture of her. I KNEW I wanted the backdrop to be a amid blossoming rhodadendron. Madison's home is wooded acreage filled with masses of hybridized versions of them.

The idea was there....but it was stuck. I couldn't get it to come out. There is nothing more frustrating than staring at a blank sheet of paper. I'd mull over it for awhile. Nothing. So, I'd draw something else...thinking I'd come back to Madison later. Sure, I'd forget about it for awhile, but then, the idea would re-surface and I'd mull over it again. And, of course, the questions rolling around my mind: How do I create a white dog? Fluffy. A Great Pyrenees is F-L-U-F-F Y. How do I create that fluffiness? How can I bring out her loving soul? What should she be doing? How do I deal with her 'biggness'? Should I 'this', should I 'that'...and on....and on.

I'm not sure what the ultimate inspiration kicker has been this week, but it has finally started to come out. Maybe it's that the rhodadendron are in bloom. Or, the bluebirds are nesting in the bluebird house. Or, because it's Spring. Maybe the "mulling" is just done. Maybe it's a combination of all of the above. Who knows. I'm just glad that it has finally come out on paper.

I'm also happy to say that I dug out my pastels that I haven't used in over 20 years. After "mulling over" how to achieve the fluffiness, I decided on pastels. Now, as I step back and look at this first illustration, I'm already thinking of ways to tweak it. Let's hope that I don't mull over it too long!

NOTE: If you are a creative person, or every wondered about the creative process and you haven't seen Elizabeth Gilbert's video clip on nuturing creativity, be sure to take the time to view it. It may help you understand the creative craziness.


  1. Oh Cheryl. That is so Madison."Here I am. Big, BEAUTIFUL, and full of life and love. You may pet me if you like." (Always one to decree things, as befitting a Princess) You even got the tail's the longest tail ever. The vet was VERY IMPRESSED. ("As she should be" says Madison) What a lovely tribute to an incredible spirit. THANK YOU. And thanks for connecting us with Maggie. As you know, Madison left a HUGE hole when she transitioned. He presence filled our home with spirit. Even with 4 other dogs, I was lost without her. Maggie has filled that spot in my heart from the day she walked through the gate. Tell me when you are "finished" mulling because I'm going to want to buy the original, if it's for sale. Only Aunt Cheryl could capture the true Madison!

  2. Oh, this is so beautiful. And what a wonderful remembrance of a wonderful dog/companion. Well worth the wait.

    Thanks for sharing the link to the video too.

  3. What a charming painting of such a sweet companion. Thanks so much for sharing you creative process with us!

  4. Oh Cheryl! I really do love this! For some reason it took me back to my childhood days when I fell in love with endearing animal characters!I absolutely love the colors and the joy I feel viewing Madison.
    You have captured her gentle ,sweet nature. I wouldn't mull anymore, as I think your mulling has brought you to a wonderful ending! Beautiful tribute.Congrats!
    Love Deb


Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your feedback~