For Typographic Tuesday I chose this quote by Milan Kundera because, well, it’s wonderful. But also because for me it conjures up thoughts and sensations of pleasant springtime weather, which I must say is a little slow showing up this year. So if you’re somewhere that’s a little too chilly for the end of March, read the quote and close your eyes, and escape to Eden with a dog at your side for a few peaceful minutes. And breathe.
As my dad used to say every morning (much to my teenage chagrin) “Wakey, wakey!” We’re starting this week off with an adventure to the Portraitsphere! And this time you should probably pack a raincoat, because we’re heading to jolly old England to visit the truly jaw-dropping work of artist Ian Mason. And forget the big cities. We’re heading out to the countryside, through the villages and shires and something-upon-somethings, to the beautiful seaside destination of Cornwall. So get yourself a packet of Wine Gums or Allsorts, or perhaps a nice cup of tea for the journey. When we get there, you won’t actually believe your eyes.
Ink, paint, charcoal, paper, canvas. Every piece is so expressive. His technique is the kind that you just don’t find very often with lines that are so deliberate and confident, yet nothing is lost in translating the subject’s personality and a moment in time. You know these dogs, or at least you certainly feel like you do.
The nonchalant raised eyebrow on the black Labrador, the Churchill-esque blasé expression of the French bulldog, the thoughtful eyes of the greyhound. How do you decide which ones to feature in a post? It was impossible, so I kept going:
I have to say that I’m really smitten with Ian Mason’s portraits to an unhealthy state. Let me put it this way: if I was invited to Windsor Castle and wanted to bring a gift for Prince William and Kate, I would phone Mr. Mason for a portrait of their little dog…but I’m pretty sure that I’d end up keeping it for myself. Nope, wouldn’t give it up. Not even for all the Wine Gums in the world.
If you would like to see more of Ian Mason’s work, visit his website here.
Thanks to the title of this post you probably now have that annoying 1980’s Loverboy song swirling around in your head. Apologies. But as the saying goes, it’s 5:00 somewhere so it’s time to mix up a nice cocktail and relax. There’s a vodka brand that you may or may not be familiar with that I happen to love: Tito’s Handmade Vodka, from right here in the good old USA. Texas, in fact. And guess what? They are some serious dog folks! The image above is from their most recent photo shoot and it features just half (HALF?) of the dogs owned by the staff. Little ones, big ones, woolly ones, shaggy ones, you name it (I’m talking about the dogs). I was also informed that there are packs of wild dogs near their facility just outside of Austin, so there’s always something new showing up. And these folks step up every time, believe me!
Here’s a photo of Tito himself (whose last name just happens to be Beveridge), with the trusty boy Roscoe. What a pair! They sure look content, and I don’t see a shaker anywhere near them!
So in honor of Tito, his staff, the wonderful dogs they love and the ones that are about to show up any minute now, and of course St. Patrick’s Day last Sunday, I decided to compose a little limerick. If you’re thinking “but Vodka’s not Irish!”, I would say that there’s probably not an Irishman anywhere that would deny someone their wee drink of choice! So, ahem…
Ah well, I tried. Anyway, my drink of choice — surprise — is a Salty Dog! Here is a simple recipe and photo from The Daily Noff:
2 oz Vodka
4 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
Salt for the rim
Salt your rim. Pour vodka into rocks glass with ice, pour grapefruit juice over that. Slurp.
If you’d like to learn more about Tito’s Vodka (which I think they should rename “dogka”), check out the official Tito’s Handmade Vodka website here. And cheers!
Mychael Barratt is a Canadian-born and now London-based printmaker who has some amazing work. I’m thinking he also has a great sense of humor: check out his series of prints created in the style of famous artists, featuring dogs they might have had. I love them! The Lichtenstein above is my favorite, and below there are some others from the series. See how many you can identify, and I’ll put the names at the end. No peeking!
First row: Gormley, Chagall, Pollock Second row: Van Gogh, Hirst, Dali Third row: Giacometti, Modigliani, Hockney Fourth Row: Rothko, Hopper, Warhol
Another fascinating series by Barratt is his “Life Imitating Art” works. In the one below, he’s melded many different famous works of art featuring dogs into a single composition. It’s kind of a little journey through art history. This time you can take a look and see what you can find on your own, then I’ll put the key which identifies the source material he used. But look closely, there are a total of 12 different works in there!
Personally, I’ve always appreciated a good sense of humor and wit (is this a Canadian trait or something? A secret ingredient in Tim Horton’s donuts maybe?), and it’s even better when combined with incredible artistic talent. If you’d like to see more work by the very talented and clever Mr. Mychael Barratt, including other series such as his Shakespeare works, visit his website here. Many of the prints are still available for purchase.
Now don’t get huffy, she’s got a good point. Here is a bit of an excerpt, including and beginning with the quote above, from Elizabeth von Arnim’s book, All the Dogs of My Life:
“I would like, to begin with, to say that although parents, husbands, children, lovers, and friends are all very well, they are not dogs. In my day and turn having been each of the above,—except that instead of husbands I was wives,—I know what I am talking about, and am well acquainted with the ups and downs, the daily ups and downs, the sometimes hourly ones in the thin-skinned, which seem inevitably to accompany human loves.
Dogs are free from these fluctuations. Once they love, they love steadily, unchangingly, till their last breath.
That is how I like to be loved.
Therefore I will write of dogs.
Up to now I have had fourteen, but they weren’t spread over my life equally, and for years and years at a time I had none. This, when first I began considering my dogs, astonished me; I mean, that for years and years I had none. What was I about, I wondered, to allow myself to be dogless? How was it that there were such long periods during which I wasn’t making some good dog happy?”
Great picture, and sounds like a pretty good book to me! If you agree, here is a link to it on Amazon.
I’m lucky enough to live near some of the best universities in America where interesting studies and programs of all kinds are always going on. There’s one program in particular often featured in the local media that always gets my attention: Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center, which is often looking for people to bring their dogs in for evaluation. Dr. Brian Hare is the director of the program and he has recently published a book titled The Genius of Dogs, so there is now a lot of national and international interest. Personally, I think that if you’re a dog person, once you hear about some of the findings, you’re going to say “Of course, I’ve always known that!” But what I think is really important is that now there’s scientific data to support what dog folks have known all along: dogs are much smarter than most people think. And because of this, maybe people who didn’t give dogs much of a chance before will realize what they’ve been missing out on. Take that, cats!
Basically Dr. Hare has found that unlike any other species (besides us), dogs are able to infer meaning from unspoken communication. It’s true: they watch us, observe us and understand gestures…even when we don’t realize it. Dogs that I’ve had over the years have learned to monitor my intonation when I’m on the phone during long conversations (mother), realizing that when it rises that’s a signal that I’m getting ready to (finally) hang up, which means they’ll get my attention back. Another example from my house would be when Chappie connected that when I groan it means I’m picking up a ball to throw for him, so if he hears me groan any other time he goes long. I didn’t actually realize that I was groaning during playtime after a long session in front of a computer. Thanks for pointing that out, Chappie. Sheesh.
Besides the book, Dr. Hare has been working to develop a website and mobile app with the talented McKinney Advertising agency called Dognition that anyone can use (and he’s hoping everyone will because it’ll help his research studies) to help develop your own dog’s personality profile with details on his cognitive strengths and weaknesses. You can check out the dognition site here. And a good newspaper article about it can be found here.
If you’d like to learn more about the Duke Canine Cognition Center, go here. They are offering summer internships (with a stipend!) if you’re interested, but you’d better make it snappy because application submissions close March 15.
Last but not least, I’d just like to say that I think Dr. Hare must be a cool guy, because how many other Harvard PhD’s feature their portraits rolling around in the grass with their dog and describe themselves as “scientist, author, dog guy”? His own personal site is here. If you’d like to listen to a great interview with Dr. Hare, the local National Public Radio station WUNC broadcast is here.
So dogs can even make science better—now I wonder what they can do for algebra.