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Happy Mother’s Day to a Dogster Mom

Reflecting on the dogs I have loved and lost, I'm comforted by my collection of dog paintings. I'm very fortunate that one of the best...

Julia Szabo  |  May 8th 2011


Reflecting on the dogs I have loved and lost, I’m comforted by my collection of dog paintings. I’m very fortunate that one of the best living contemporary artists specializing in dog portraiture happens to be a close relative.

She’s my Mom, Martha Szabo.

In my humble opinion, few artists have Martha Szabo’s skill for capturing the exquisite essence of a dog (or cat). “It’s in the eyes,” one of her admirers once told me, and I have to agree.

On top of that,Martha also manages to nail something even more elusive: The love ofa pet’s human, asseen through the animal’s eyes. Sometimes, theperson appears in the portrait together with his or her best friend. But even when the pet appears alone, you can feel the strong bond between animal and owner. That’s a rare and beautiful gift.

She didn’t start painting pets until shortly after I adopted the first dog of my adult life:a pit bull named Daisy. That was 17 years ago. Martha depicted my girl from two angles, using bold brushstrokes and a confident, charismatic color palette to create “Double Portrait of Daisy” (pictured above).

It’s one of my favorite paintings ever, a spot-on likeness of Daisy, and the jewel in my art collection. It’s also a brutally honest likeness: The late, great Daisy sported a pendulous lower lip due to an old injury, so Martha didn’t omit that key detail of my dog’s physiognomy. It was an astute decision, for her scar was part of what made Daisy unique.

Thataesthetic honesty has earned Martha many kudos. Her work has been compared to 20th century masters Alice Neel and Lucian Freud. Those are high compliments indeed.

To me, Martha’s paintings are more than objects of beauty; they are thought-provoking canvases that invite contemplation.

All over the world, there are talented, dog-lovingMoms who express K9 love in astonishingly creative ways. On this special day, I’d like to pause and appreciate all Dogster Momsfor the priceless inspiration they provide.

And I’d like to underscore my unconditional love for the one closest to my heart: My Mom Martha, dog artist extraordinaire.

Happy Mother’s Day!