“Elaine, would you mind if I used this photo as an inspiration for a new watercolor? If I’m happy with the result I’ll send you a print. I’m in love with the stones and the dog. It’s magic!” Last year about this time, the artist Tobias Inigo sent this message after I shared a forest photo of my orange-vested puppy Disco.
“Tobias, I look forward to your creation.”
“I look forward to the creating,” Tobias wrote.
Days later, he shared his watercolor on Facebook. I commented that the stones in the image were Vic’s cairn and Tobias sent another message.
“Elaine, in your original photo, you did not mention Vic. As I painted this, I felt like the stone cairn might symbolize Vic. I need to send you this painting. It belongs to you. I’m just the channel.”
After Vic died in 2008, our sons rolled granite boulders out of the creek bed and dragged them to the forest knoll with the tractor. We built Vic’s cairn in our farewell ritual. As we built, I knew this would be my place to grieve and pray.
“Don’t send me the original painting,” I wrote to Tobias. “It’s your creation. A print would be wonderful which is what you offered first.”
“Elaine, this is not the first time I’ve created a painting and had no idea what was driving me. I believe it is a gift to you,” Tobias responded. “Please, let me do this. I cannot think of anything that feels more right than that. Okay?”
“It feels like too big a gift,” I wrote.
“I will let you decide,” he wrote. “Please know I am more than happy to gift this to you.”
For a few days, I played with the possibility of this gift from an artist who lives by his paint brush and words. I’d never met Tobias, but went to one of his exhibits. Was this a mistake on his part or was I blocking a new perspective trying to arise? I looked at the copy he shared many times a day and loved it more and more—the windswept landscape, the touch of orange, the cautious but curious pup.
“I love you for your offer, Tobias. I’ll let it sit a few days. Breathing…and pausing”
“…You do realize I rarely take no for an answer,” he wrote, but I needed to decide. My artist friend Lisa Baechtle said it’s sometimes necessary for an artist to give away a painting for their creative process. This experience felt important in ways I didn’t understand, so I went with my heart.
“Tobias, I say Yes! The painting bridges my old world and the new one with this pup. In your image there is a sense of windswept storm with the leaning of the trees. The puppy peers around a tree looking at the cairn with curiosity, but keeps a distance. That distance intrigues me. It feels overwhelming to say yes to your gift, but I’m doing it. Thank you. This is also a lesson in accepting what’s offered with love and taking a new step in the grieving process. May I write about it?” I asked.
“Tobias, I’ll let you know what happens next.”
“I’m happy,” Tobias wrote.
“So am I.”
What happened next? The covid-19 pandemic, cancellation or a move to Zoom for most of my activities, and almost 300 days at home. I didn’t know how much I would need Disco’s healing sweetness, her curiosity, her love of the forest and long walks, and her warm body lying on my feet at night.
Before the pandemic closed the shops in town, I had Tobias’s painting matted and framed. It’s on my wall, and I look at it every day, although I still haven’t met Tobias. His painting connects me to my curious but cautious wild nature and the power of distance and death in our lives this year. It took most of a year to understand the deeper meaning of the image. Have you received something you didn’t expect and searched for an inner message symbolized by the gift?
Tobias Inigo is an artist living in Cortland, NY where he accepts new commissions and works on his inner inspirations. He can be contacted at his email address: Tobiasart@icloud.com To see his paintings, go to his page at Artfinder or his Amazon author page where you’ll also find books he’s written.
For other articles about the joy of adopting a dog, see How to Build a Heart Fire. For a story about synchronicity and Vic, see When Life Has a Plan: Intuition, Synchronicity, & Love.