My tears are sufficiently in check so that I may write of my beloved dog and the joy he brought to my life.
We adopted Morzie when he was 4 years old. He had been placed in a shelter with his very large black pal by a woman who had to flee a domestic violence situation and was forced to give up her dogs. Both dogs had been at the shelter two weeks On a whim on a providential Friday afternoon in 2002, my daughters and I happened by the dog kennel which featured just a few dogs for adoption each weekend. As I approached the penned area, a white medium size dog with black spots on his ears, gently put his paws on the fence to receive our hello.
After playing with Moab, as he was called then, we decided that we might like to adopt him, pending approval from other members of our household. The woman at the shelter indicated that the previous owner really had wanted both dogs to be adopted together, which we could not do. She agreed to think it over and let us know if Moab could be adopted by himself and we agreed to consider whether it was a good idea to proceed. The next day, she called, very excited, to indicate that a family had come by the shelter and wanted to adopt Moab's pal, the black dog. It seemed meant to be that Moab should be ours.
And become ours, he did. We renamed him Morzie, after a town we had visited in France (Morzine), as it had a beginning sound similar to Moab, and we began to acquaint him with our household. Morzie was a gentle dog with a silliness about him that always made us laugh. He would make howling, woo, woo sounds and we would ask him if he was trying to speak English. He certainly understood English, as many dogs do, cocking his head in anticipation at the sound of the word "walk". At the command to "go find your toy" or "where?", he would go bounding down the hall, nose to the ground, ready to pounce on his ball or frisbee dropping it in front of you to be thrown again and again. He loved sleeping under things and the second I would sit up in bed, he would crawl out of his cramped space under the bed. He would watch and wait for me to put on my shoes in the morning, the signal that it was time for a walk. And when I finally would retrieve the leash, he would run back and forth, back and forth, back and forth in delight and excitement at the anticipation of his walk.
There was nowhere I went on foot without him....to the grocery store, the art supply store, the beach, the post office. He never barked as he was leashed up, waiting for me to finish my errand, and passersby and shopkeepers couldn't help but comment on his white eyelashes.
One day I took him to Ocean Shores, Washington with me to watch my son and his friend go surfing. I was recovering from knee surgery and as I watched, sitting on the sand, Morzie was content to be my companion. I experimented with quick sketches of him, using felt tip pens of different values.
During the car ride home, while my son drove, I sketched one very tired dog.
He would often wait and watch, with black liquid eyes, for the next moment to play. He was a dog who loved and lived to play.
We often called him, in fun and delight, the lazy dog because he was content to sleep and be and loved being warm, whether in front of a fireplace (almost "cooking" himself sometimes, and then I would call him a hot dog on a bun), or in the rays of the sun.
Morzie saw me through the hairy years of raising teenagers, moving to a new home, and the loneliness of time at the easel. With him, I was reminded of the beautiful lesson that dogs give us which is to live in the present, never carry baggage from the past, love people unconditionally, and always make play a priority.
As we were visiting family over the Christmas holiday, Amber, my dear dog lover and sitter, was taking care of Morzie. She knew him and loved him as her own, and so she knew that playing with the ball was his favorite thing. On Christmas Eve, playing with him at the park, Morzie wagged his tail, and, without warning collapsed. Amber, thinking he was having a seizure, rushed him to the vet. Before she could get there, he took his last breaths and died in her arms.
The vet believes it was heart failure. I wish it had been me able to hold him, but I am grateful it was Amber and that he wasn't alone.
My grief over the last few days has been profound. As the raw ache in my heart begins to ease, I am grateful that my Morzie died doing what he loved most. And, as he was put up for adoption among difficult circumstances six years ago, and consequently never liked loud voices, trauma or tears, that he was able to enjoy love, fun, and play just before his last moments is allowing me to let him go.
I love you my sweet silly dog and I miss you more than words can express.
And now from Ned:
I have been asked to give a series of life drawing workshops in 2009. They are each separate from each other. Drawing has always been one of my main strengths and it has enabled me to survive and thrive doing a variety of things in the art world.
I would like to tell you a little about my philosophy on drawing and how I see it. Joe Henninger, a great teacher at the Art Center School of Design told us, "if you learn how to draw well...you will never have trouble finding a job"..I have found that to be true in my career as it gives you the ability, and the power to do a whole lot of things. In our early drawing classes at Art Center we worked in mostly a classical approach, slow, deliberate and accurate drawings of casts, skulls and the human figure, much as the Gage Academy here in Seattle approaches their teaching. At the same time we had life drawing classes that stressed using our eye alone to judge and estimate proportions and form. This is the approach that I will emphasize. It enables one to become much more expressive and unique in drawing the figure, as well as all things.
Over the years, I was somewhat frustrated in getting my drawings to relate more to my painting than I was achieving, and I began to stress tone, form and mass as opposed to a dominant lineal approach. I eventually was able to see my drawings in more of a picture form and to develop more of the abstract qualities and masses that I felt was needed. This enabled me to be more open, free, expressive and much faster in doing the portrait, figure or landscape in front of me. The class will be structured to start with a lot of quick gesture drawings leading up to longer poses. The gesture poses really gets one to work fast, get the important movements and proportion and basically, like in sports to loosen up. As the gesture poses are more interesting and dynamic the longer poses tend to be quite static and often boring and people start to tighten up. The idea is to take that looser approach into the longer poses so the drawings become more expressive. I encourage people to use Bistre conte, a kneaded eraser and smooth newsprint as it works best for this approach as opposed to charcoal, which tends to get very messy. I was first asked to teach drawing at Art Center when I was still a student and have been doing it ever since, for over 45 years and have gotten pretty good at it as my students tell me.
The workshops will be at Arts Umbrella in Bothell, Washington on January 16th, 17th and 18th. February 13th, 14th and 15th at the Lowell Art Works in Everett, Washington, and in March at the Unclad Show put on by Gail Picken in Stanwood, Washington. The Arts Umbrella workshop is $300 which also includes the model fee. The price has not been decided in the other two, but will be very close to that amount. As the economy is squeezing all of u s, it is a good time to develop and sharpen our skills, and what could be better than working on the most important of all, drawing. I will also do an extra portrait demo drawing at the end of the second day of drawing. I hope that you can participate, we will have top models, will work hard and have fun doing it! I will get out the contacts for each workshop in the next couple of days. For the Arts Umbrella workshop, please contact me by email (email@example.com). I hope that you can participate in one or more of these workshops and that my explanation of its content is clear. Let me know if you have any questions. Ned