Paula Banks Pet Portraiture: Blog en-us Paula Banks (Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sat, 23 Jul 2022 23:13:00 GMT Sat, 23 Jul 2022 23:13:00 GMT Paula Banks Pet Portraiture: Blog 120 120 a couple of recent commissions

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 31 Aug 2022 14:00:00 GMT
It's a cat's life

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 29 Aug 2022 14:00:00 GMT
smiles and tails

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 26 Aug 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Trained seal

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 24 Aug 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Guess who stole whose best ball

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 22 Aug 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Swimming with friends

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 19 Aug 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Wheaten Terrier Watercolour 5x7


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 17 Aug 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Happy tails

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 15 Aug 2022 13:45:00 GMT
the pose

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 12 Aug 2022 13:45:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 10 Aug 2022 13:45:00 GMT
Blue Saucony

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 08 Aug 2022 13:45:00 GMT
Painted lake

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 05 Aug 2022 13:45:00 GMT
around the village


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 03 Aug 2022 13:45:00 GMT
smiles and splashes

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 01 Aug 2022 13:45:00 GMT
friends from Nova Scotia

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 29 Jul 2022 13:45:00 GMT
secret garden  


“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one's head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one's heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun--which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone's eyes.”

― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 27 Jul 2022 13:45:00 GMT
afternoon light

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 25 Jul 2022 13:45:00 GMT
sunshine on my shoulders

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 22 Jul 2022 13:45:00 GMT
She missed her calling as a goalie

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 20 Jul 2022 13:45:00 GMT
sea monster

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 18 Jul 2022 13:45:00 GMT
Thomson at the point

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 15 Jul 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Daisies and buttercups

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 13 Jul 2022 13:31:05 GMT
in the jungle the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 04 Jul 2022 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 01 Jul 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Shiny happy people

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 29 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
My pretty

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 27 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Tag team

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 24 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 22 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
blossom and blue

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 20 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
recent gouaches  

Salt marsh clouds

Sleeping cat


Traeth Llygwy, Anglesey


Assateague pony

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 17 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
mother and daughter

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 15 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Line and wash This is a new practice for me. The drawings are sketched out in pencil, then very basic lines are drawn in using a fineliner pen, just to define main outlines and features. Then layers of diluted india ink are applied to work up the values and create a greyscale rendering. Finally (optional step), very thin layers of watercolour are applied to ''colorize'' the image. The first example, of a dachshund, has been left uncoloured to give an idea of the process.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 13 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Ned is back in residence at the antique shop.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 10 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
On lake time

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 08 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
back in the swim Well, she's not quite swimming yet. But she's come such a long way.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 06 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
bienvenue Meet Nala, a 2 year old Snowy Bengal cat.

We had not intended on getting another cat. Our neighbour had other ideas. 

She's lovely and she has fit right in.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 03 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
a few recent charcoals

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 01 Jun 2022 14:00:00 GMT
You want fries with that?

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 30 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 27 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
A light exists in spring

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.


                                 -Emily Dickinson


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 25 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
It's the most wonderful time of the year

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 23 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
tongue season is in full swing


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 20 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
stooooopid human This is Arwen, at the park.

The little orange blur by her paws, near the bottom of the frame, is her beloved orange ball. She's dropped it at my feet and wants me to throw it.

''So?'' you might ask. ''What's the big deal? Isn't that what most dogs do, especially retrievers?''

Well yes. At least she used to.

Over the last year or so, she got into the habit of coming to me with her ball and offering it up, but when I went to take it, she refused to let go of it. She did not want to give it up. I was puzzled, and a bit frustrated, but I didn't really stop to analyze why her behaviour changed. I just kept throwing balls for Nutmeg, and the odd time that Arwen would surrender her ball, she got a throw as well.

In hindsight, I realized that my little dog was indeed telling me something. Her back legs were excruciatingly painful, especially when she ran after balls to fetch them. Her instinct and passion for retrieving were still as strong as ever, but she knew that giving me the ball meant it would be thrown and she couldn't bear the pain. She was telling me this and I missed the memo completely.

Over the last couple of weeks, she's been depositing the ball at my feet again. While it fills my heart with joy to know she is feeling better, I am at the same time filled with sorrow, regret, and guilt for not having understood what she was trying so hard to tell me.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 18 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Au revoir Stripes
October 2005 - April 2022
You came to us as a tiny kitten, in the waning months of my father's life, and you were a delight during that dark time and for all of the sixteen years that followed.
You kept five dogs firmly under your thumb, and you allowed only the two of us into your life, but you loved fiercely and loyally.
I will so very miss your pterodactyl cries, your kneading claws, and your whisker rubs.
Rest in peace, little one. You were a very good cat.





(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 16 May 2022 14:15:00 GMT
back in the swim

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 13 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Mr. Fox

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 11 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
recent landscapes in oil and gouache

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 09 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
hotel life

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 06 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
mountain landscape in graphite

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 04 May 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Atlantic shore gouache

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 02 May 2022 14:03:16 GMT
playtime at the diamond

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 29 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT
one scene done in three different media oil, acrylic, and gouache

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 27 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT
chickadee graphite on Stonehenge paper


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 25 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 22 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT
all the toys and shoes ...come out to play at least 3x a day


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 20 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT

They perhaps look concerned because their all-important dog-biscuit-baking-appliance is kaput, thanks to a french-fried mouse in the wiring. Thanks, mouse, for the $1500 new stove that's not being delivered for 3 weeks.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 18 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Stripes, asleep and awake

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 15 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT
boredom we just want to play and have fun again...

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 13 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT
a couple of commissions South Portage, oil on cradled panel, 11x14South Portage, oil on cradled panel, 11x14

South Portage: oil on cradled birch panel, 11x14. This is for a stranger. A friend asked me to paint it because the lady she cares for used to live here, but has since sold the place and moved into a supported care home. She misses her place on the lake very much. I would as well.

Katie and Sky, oil on canvas paper, 9x12Katie and Sky, oil on canvas paper, 9x12


Katie and Sky, oil on canvas paper, 9x13. This was painted for 2 very wonderful people I am proud and lucky to consider friends. They always have at least 3 and often more rescued, older Shelties. Katie and Sky passed away within a few months of one another. Sky had deformities in his legs and could not walk, but he loved to go out in the stroller.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 11 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT
help-me-up harness This has been Arwen's corset for the past couple of months. Initially she had to have it on 24/7, but a couple of weeks after her second surgery we could tell how uncomfortable it was for her (especially the big, heavy rubber handle above her withers), and we transitioned to using it only for walks. The handle on her rump is to assist her over slippery surfaces and up stairs.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 08 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Art and Found On March 12, I participated in International Art and Found day.

This is a voluntary initiative meant to put a bit of good out into the world. Artists leave their creations in public places, tagged with information on the event, and whoever finds the art gets to keep it.

I made it into a bit of a scavenger hunt in my village, publishing a rhyming riddle that people had to solve in order to find the art.

Here are the pieces that I offered up.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 06 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT
winter is still having its way

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 04 Apr 2022 14:00:00 GMT


Today is the day that Doggerels goes out into the world. This book of poems about dogs is an accumulation of years of writing, and the subject matter goes back even further, encompassing the lives of many beloved dogs.

I have always loved writing; it has been a creative outlet for nearly half a century. As a little girl, I began reading very early, and writing not long after. Most of it was horse-oriented because I was horse-mad. I think I was in grade two or three when my first poem was published. I can still recite that little masterpiece:

Some horses run free

Others work hard all day

Just to get their oats and hay

Although a horse is beautiful to see

It’s better to see it running free.

That little pearl was included in the school board’s poetry collection for the year, and for eight-year-old me it was a Very Big Deal indeed.

I went to an elementary school that had a rather mixed profile of was a very WASP demographic, but a vast mix of socioeconomic strata. I resided somewhere safely, anonymously in the middle. At least until grade four, the year when the powers that be chose a half dozen of us and, in September, I was told on the first day of school that I would not in fact be entering grade 4 with my classmates, but rather joining a mixed grade 4/5 class. In other words, skipping a grade. Not too traumatic on paper, but in reality what happened was that the ''browners'' were thrown in the lions' den of grade 5 reprobates and rebels who didn't match the grade profile any more than we did. We were ostracized and ridiculed and bullied and we wore that label right through grade 8, when my family moved.

On the plus side, our small group bonded in solidarity and weathered it together as friends. We joined a poetry club in grade 7, and there were four of us, five including the teacher. That endeavour drew perhaps the worst mockery and harassment of all. Poetry became for me a very introspective exercise, something that caused me shame. 

It took me decades to come back to it, and when I did, I still found (and still find) myself squirming self-consciously about sharing it. Over the past decade I have been posting photos on a blogging site, and from time to time another blogger on that site published poems to accompany his photos. Moreover, he was a high school teacher and a basketball coach who used poetry with his students and athletes. His practices were a source of courage and inspiration for me to let my own poems fly free. Just recently he posted a picture of a discussion with a classroom literally crammed with students...a seminar about poetry. Amazingly, the students were there voluntarily and openly and enthusiastically. How I wished that I could have had that sort of experience. 

Soleil’s passing in November 2020 was what sowed the determination in my mind to publish my poems about dogs. In the wake of her death, I was only able to express the rawness of loss through poetry. I decided that a book collecting all of my dog poems would be a tribute to her and to all that she meant to me. Writing it for her gave me the permission to publish, to share, to put it out there. Getting it prepared for publication was a useful distraction, keeping me on the straight and narrow amid all of the recent stress with Arwen’s two surgeries. In all honesty, I have no idea how this book will be received, but I also realize that its reception matters far less to me personally than does its creation.

My secret hope is that the people who do hold it in their hands and flip through the pages will relate to it and see their own dogs, past and present, in the words and illustrations. In the vast corpus of world literature, I can only find one single poet who has dedicated a volume entirely to dogs, and that poet is none other than the late, great Mary Oliver. She too has been an inspiration to me, and while I cannot pretend to emulate her, I certainly believe that she was on to a good thing.

Last but not least, Doggerels is both an end and a beginning. It is the product of a long creative process, but it is also the catalyst for a couple of new, related endeavours.

It has been a long and difficult couple of years for all of us, with a whole lot of negativity across every facet of our lives. My wish is that Doggerels be a springboard for goodness and positivity. To that end, I will be donating some of the proceeds of sales of the book to Elder Dog Canada, a Canadian charity that does wonderful work for elderly people and their pets.

Secondly, today also marks the launch of a new Instagram account, @doggerels_dogkus, where I will share a ‘dogku’ (a dog haiku) each day – a little daily morsel of poetry about dogs. I hope that you will enjoy them and relate to them.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 01 Apr 2022 12:44:29 GMT
da cat

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 30 Mar 2022 14:00:00 GMT
in repose

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 28 Mar 2022 14:00:00 GMT

Hallie was a wonderful service dog who guided her partially-blind owner, Becca, for many years. She then retired to live out her golden years with Becca's mom and dad. She was a beautiful, gentle dog. Rest in peace, Hallie.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 25 Mar 2022 14:00:00 GMT
misty lake Oil on canvas, 8x10




(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 23 Mar 2022 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 21 Mar 2022 14:00:00 GMT
penny and her iguana Gouache on canvas paper, approx 7'' x 8''



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 18 Mar 2022 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 16 Mar 2022 14:00:00 GMT
Waiting for spring

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 14 Mar 2022 14:00:00 GMT
4 gouaches

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 11 Mar 2022 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 09 Mar 2022 15:00:00 GMT
Bandaid Bear

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 07 Mar 2022 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 04 Mar 2022 15:00:00 GMT
lap dogs

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 02 Mar 2022 15:00:00 GMT
recent small paintings and drawings

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 28 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
NOTL Having recently played tour guide to a dear friend, I wanted to share this photo that I took during our stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The water in the background is the mouth of the Niagara River, emptying into Lake Ontario.

Across the river is Youngstown, New York, USA, and the building on the point is Fort Niagara. Niagara-on-the-Lake has its own fortifications, Fort George, which stand about a kilometre to your right from the perspective of this photo. Two centuries ago, Canada and the USA were not the best of friends.

The water in the river has just come over Niagara Falls, 20 kilometres upstream. It has a greenish tinge from the sediments picked up during its churning journey of rapids, falls, and whirlpools. Even at the mouth of the river, it's dangerous to swim.

20% of the drinking water in the USA goes over Niagara Falls.

It takes a drop of water 173 years to pass through Lake Superior, then 204 years to pass through to the ocean.

It is believed that Niagara is a derivative of the Iroquoian word, “Onguiaahra”, which was anglicized by missionaries. The name appears on maps as early as 1641. The generally accepted meaning is “The Strait”. ... Others believe the word Niagara is taken from another native word meaning, “Thundering Waters”.

On a personal note, this town has long been special to me, since my parents brought us here on day trips when we were young. When I went by on my run the other day, I reminisced and it struck me that the little girl who picnicked in this park and skipped rocks on the little spit of sand in front of the gazebo would never have imagined that nearly half a century later she would be there again - now married and living quite far away - as the 9th in her succession of dogs underwent surgery.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 25 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
Baxter A memorial portrait.

Oil on cradled birch panel, 16x20


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 23 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
gouaches keep coming

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 21 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
cabin fever

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 18 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
more gouaches

winter meadow, gouache on paper, 5x7

spring greens, gouache on paper, approx 5x9spring greens, gouache on paper, approx 5x9

spring greens, gouache on paper, approx 5x9


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 16 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
A trio of gouaches These are 5x7s that I did in our hotel room while we were away getting Arwen's first surgery done.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 14 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
In the recovery ward Hanging out indoors, recuperating (Arwen) and supervising (Nutmeg). Under the kitchen table is where it's at.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 11 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
A couple of recent paintings  

Gouache on paper, approximately 5x10 inches

Acrylic on canvas, 16x20 inches.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 09 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
First days post-op All being well, the second surgery will be performed on February 8.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 07 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT

While Arwen's surgery was being done, Nutmeg and I went for a walk. Niagara-on-the-Lake is very different in winter, compared to the typical view I've always had in summer. 

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 04 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
Hazel This is a portrait that I painted for my niece, Aidee's birthday, which is today, February 2nd.

Hazel was the full sister, one year younger, to my Soleil.

She was also the beloved dog of my own human sister for most of her 11 years.

She passed away in early January.

Oil on canvas board, 8x10 inches, framed.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 02 Feb 2022 15:00:00 GMT
Stripes hanging out

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 31 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
scenes from house arrest

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 28 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 26 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
eclectic My moods have been all over the place these days, and so have my painting media and subject matter.


Christmas magic, gouache on paper, 8x10Christmas magic, gouache on paper, 8x10 Lakescape, acrylic on canvas, 11x14Lakescape, acrylic on canvas, 11x14 Tucker, acrylic on canvas, 16x20Tucker, acrylic on canvas, 16x20 pink pig, oil on canvas, 16x20pink pig, oil on canvas, 16x20

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 24 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
The lion sleeps

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 21 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
One dog broke the other dog In mid-November, we were preparing for our afternoon walk, and Nutmeg was doing her usual jack-in-the-box sproinging up and down. She landed hard on Arwen, there was a shriek of pain, and a hind leg was out of commission for a day or so. Then she got better. Until Boxing Day, when she began doing the classic ''toe tapping'' that is a sign of a cruciate ligament tear in a dog. This was confirmed by the vet, and now we are awaiting a major orthopaedic surgery to repair the ligament. It will require 6 full weeks of rest and physiotherapy. The only good news is that these surgeries do give the dogs back almost complete range of motion once they are healed, and they can get back to racing and playing and being dogs again.

But for the next couple of months, it's basically house arrest.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 19 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
forest path Acrylic on canvas, 16x20


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 17 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
memorial - Baxter Acrylic on canvas panel, 11x14




glazed in colour digitally


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 14 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
New venture ''Dog paddles"

This one is of a Goldendoodle called Phil.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 12 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 10 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
Nutty is three

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sun, 09 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 07 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
marsh sunset  

Acrylic on birch panel, 10'' x 20''

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 05 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 03 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 31 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Oil drybrush This is a new technique that I am playing with. It's exactly what it sounds like. Oil paint applied incredibly sparingly, brushed onto paper. 

You can even erase the paint with an eraser, just like you would pencil or charcoal.

It's a learning curve to find the right combination of smooth paper, soft yet strong brushes, and ''dryness"

But as with everything else art-related, each piece teaches me something and helps me grow.


Arwen, oil drybrush on matboard, 8x10Arwen, oil drybrush on matboard, 8x10

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 29 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Obi Obi, gouache on paper, 8x10Obi, gouache on paper, 8x10

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 27 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT
O Tannenbaum O Christmas tree, gouache on paper, 7x7O Christmas tree, gouache on paper, 7x7

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 24 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Indoors and out

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 22 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT
wagging their tails right off

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 20 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 17 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 15 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 13 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT
some recent doggy gouaches  

Mack, gouache on canvas, 4x6Mack, gouache on canvas, 4x6

Bernese, 8x10Bernese, 8x10

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 10 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT
A little ditty about Jack and Dianne A little ditty about Jack and Dianne, oil 6x6A little ditty about Jack and Dianne, oil 6x6

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 08 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 06 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT

This is admittedly a little bit niche, but now that the autumn colours are well past their prime, it's a fun challenge to get more creative and abstract to express the beauty that's still very much present.

These are done by moving the camera vertically at a slow shutter speed in fairly low light (while standing firmly on two dog leads, one under each boot). And holding a bag of dog poo.


ICM = In Camera Movement


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 03 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Hold my hand  

Yesterday, I saw you standing there

Your head was down, your eyes were red

No comb had touched your hair

I said get up, and let me see you smile

We'll take a walk together

Walk the road awhile, 'cause

'Cause I've got a hand for you

I've got a hand for you

'Cause I wanna run with you


                         -Hootie and the Blowfish


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 01 Dec 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Who goes there?  

She never misses a thing.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 29 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT
1 year One year since you left

A heart full of memories

Never quite mended

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 26 Nov 2021 19:49:43 GMT
Quietude Acrylic on canvas, 14x18


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 26 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Autumn's embers

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 24 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT
gouaches, encore Red Riding Hood, gouache, 5x5Red Riding Hood, gouache, 5x5 Watcher, gouache, 9x12Watcher, gouache, 9x12 Beachgoer, gouache, 4x7Beachgoer, gouache, 4x7 Friends, gouache, 7x7Friends, gouache, 7x7 Yoho reflections, gouache, 9x12Yoho reflections, gouache, 9x12

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 22 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT
away with the fairies

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 19 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT
walks on water?

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 17 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 15 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Benny Benny is an enormous German Shepherd who lives across the road from us.

He's 10 and has been battling an autoimmune disorder for a while.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 12 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT
more art


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 10 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 08 Nov 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 05 Nov 2021 14:00:00 GMT
mischief in the asters

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 03 Nov 2021 14:00:00 GMT
more gouaches and a charcoal drawing Seaside, gouache, 8x10Seaside, gouache, 8x10 Frozen, gouache 8x10Frozen, gouache 8x10 Fetch, gouache, 8x10Fetch, gouache, 8x10 Pillow talk, gouache, 8x10Pillow talk, gouache, 8x10 Westie, charcoal, approx 4x6Westie, charcoal, approx 4x6

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 01 Nov 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Gouache paintings & charcoal drawings Both of these media are so efficient and quick to work with. A small drawing or painting can take as little as one hour. They are also both very forgiving. Gouache can be painted over, since the pigments are opaque, unlike its transparent (and unforgiving of errors cousin, watercolour). And charcoal is so can darken it using pressure, and then pull out light areas with an eraser. It's all about pushing and pulling until you get where you want to be.


At the beach, gouache on board, 8x10At the beach, gouache on board, 8x10 Buddies, gouache on board, 8x10Buddies, gouache on board, 8x10 Nose, charcoal on Stonehenge paper, 9x12Nose, charcoal on Stonehenge paper, 9x12 snooze, charcoal, 9x12snooze, charcoal, 9x12

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 29 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 25 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT
snooze Charcoal on Stonehenge paper, 9x12




(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 22 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Morning light

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 20 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT
The Cat in the Hat

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 18 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT
new gouaches

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 15 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT
charcoal drawings A couple of recent pieces, charcoal on Stonehenge paper, 9x12


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 13 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT
lampwork Not in the dictionary sense of lampwork, but literally work (painting, art) on lamps.

These little frosted glass rectangles come from ikea, and the price point lends itself to creative play, because it's not too precious of a surface. 

It's actually surprisingly easy to paint acrylic on these, once you learn to use a light touch, because the layers underneath can lift up quite easily from the ultra-smooth glass substrate.

These paintings are of Baxter, a Golden who lives at the edge of the village. When I run by his house, he barks ferociously, but he is a Golden through and through, in other words a big friendly mush.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 11 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT
summer flashback

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 06 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT
window sill snoozer

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 04 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Thomson goes swimming

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 01 Oct 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 29 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT
black eyes

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 27 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Sauna boat Muskoka, you have officially sold your soul to the devil.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 24 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT
the Naiad Oil on birch panel, 3 x 9 inches.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 22 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT
a trio of small gouaches Rocky mountain scenes.

Two are famous.

One is imaginary.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 20 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT
General Store This is, as the sign so obviously states, the Rosseau General Store. It's a bit of a landmark, a beautifully preserved historic building, continuing to serve the same purpose as it has for over a century, purveyor of necessities to vacationers, cottagers, and year-round residents. I can confidently say that 90% of anything I might need in terms of food and basic supplies - whether it is meat for the barbecue, a bag of nails, shampoo, a dog toy, or an ice-cream cone - can be found at the General Store.

The store is special for its history and its careful preservation - the wooden floors creak wonderfully under your feet, and memorabilia line the rafters, More importantly, though, is its role as a hub of the community. I've lived here for 10 years and the store has changed ownership during this period. When it went up for sale, the proprietors were very careful in choosing buyers who would be the right fit for the community and to whom they could entrust the store.

Laurie and Brian have taken up the mantle brilliantly. Over the past 3 or 4 years, they have pursued the extensive renovations in a loving and thoughtful way. They have thrown themselves into community activities, and they know everyone by name, locals and cottagers alike. They contribute generously to local events and causes - not just in a token, monetary way, but by direct involvement and leadership.

The General Store has been kind enough to not only consign my books, but also to create a display of books by local authors, right at the front of the store. They make a conscious effort to source locally grown or produced foods and artisan products. 

When the pandemic hit, the General Store was there for us all, posting on social media when they managed to secure yeast or toilet paper or flour. To accommodate for the influx of seasonal residents who vacated the city to ride things out at their cottages, the General Store was reconfigured so that people flowed in and out more easily. Many people did not venture any further than Rosseau for their groceries - there was no need; the General Store had our backs.

This is a small village, and in this rather remote area of Ontario we are very fortunate to have a number of wonderful shops right around the corner. But it's the people who make these places into something truly extraordinary.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sat, 18 Sep 2021 23:49:58 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 17 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 15 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT
spot the periscope

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 13 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 10 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 08 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 06 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Gouache sketches This is a fairly new medium to me and I am quite enjoying it because it seems to bring together the best aspects of oil paints and watercolour. Gouache is an opaque form of watercolour, and it's very versatile. I am using these sketches both as exercises and also as ways to ''feel out'' colour choices and composition before embarking on a larger version in oil.

One of the coolest parts is setting up the illustration board/paper by taping it off with masking tape or washi tape. As soon as the painting is complete, I peel off the tape and see the neat edges of the painting, surrounded by the pristine white of the board. It's like having a built-in frame.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 03 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Randoms from the lake

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 01 Sep 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Wake me up when September ends Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are

As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September end

                                 -Green Day


Today it was a perfect, sunny, summer's day. The choking humidity of the past couple of weeks has been replaced by a clean, fresh breeze from the north, the deep blue sky hosted fluffy, fair-weather clouds, and the flowers and leaves seemed to be even more colourful and abundant, nourished by recent rains and freed from the oppressive heat.

Today is the 31st of August. Tomorrow, the calendar turns over to September and even though the same beautiful weather will be with us, something will be lost, relinquished. September has been hanging in the distance, awaiting us, but as long as it's still August it's easier to simply cling onto summer and pretend it is never going to end. September, however, forces the finality upon us. In August it was easy to ignore or deny early fall colours on a maple tree here and there, but in September that process will roar into high gear. September is also the month for back-to-school, ingrained in all of us as children, and for many of us who went onto teaching, it's been a transition that has marked our yearly rhythms for decades. This summer especially, it's a sea-change, since schools are intending to get back to normal in-person classes after a prolonged hiatus brought about by the pandemic. The adjustment is all the more challenging because of the long absence from this routine.

September also signifies the downward slope towards winter's dark, cold, snowy months, something I personally dread more and more each year. Soon, instead of heading cavalierly outdoors barefoot and in shorts, we'll have to be bundling into coats and mittens, and lacing up boots, then bracing against the cold despite all those layers. While we will still enjoy sunshiny, summery days, they will become fewer and farther between. The trees will shed all of their luxuriant foliage and stand grey and sad, frozen in sleep. Most of the birds will head for warmer climes, save for the sturdy jays and crows and cardinals, and the remarkable little chickadees. Chipmunks and squirrels and bears will tuck in for hibernation, and the moose and deer will yard themselves into hidden valleys and glens. The lakes and rivers will cool and crust over with ice, and snow will blanket them until they become indistinguishable from the solid ground that surrounds them. Everything in the landscape will meld into silent, monochrome stillness. September is when this paring away of energy and life starts to become evident; it's when the momentum truly turns.

If August is about stubbornly holding on to summer, September is about letting it go, and making peace, like it or not, with what comes next. It would perhaps be an exaggeration to qualify it as a grieving period, but there is undeniably a sense of loss, impotence, and resignation in the face of time's relentless march.

In a less literal way, September has of course come to symbolize loss in the human sense, ever since September 11, 2001. That day in September changed most of our lives, and not for the better. 

On a personal level, September is the month when my father received the diagnosis that his cancer was back, and terminal. I remember getting that news on a bright, blue afternoon in mid-September, and trying to reconcile the beauty of the day with the realization that my father would not see another summer.

Similarly, last September was when Soleil's health began to fail, though I tried to ignore the inchoate signs in the vain hope that it was not something sinister coming to take her. As September wore on, our walks became shorter and slower, and on one of those ambles around the village, I noticed orange flowers blooming abundantly in the churchyard. I photographed Soleil in front of them and made some lovely pictures. I discovered that these flowers have the ignominious name of ''sneezeweed''. The prettier, scientific name is Helenium Autumnale. Today, as I walked by the churchyard, the flowers were there again. And of course I thought of Soleil and missed her. 

Yesterday, when I was driving back from the grocery store, a feeling came over me quite suddenly and for no apparent reason. I have tried to capture it in the poem that follows. I'm sharing it here because it fits in with the September vibe. 

If I sound melancholy, I'm not. We all carry grief, and sometimes it feels necessary to articulate it, to speak it out loud, to not be afraid or ashamed of it. And September is as good as a time as any.


Without warning surges

a breathtaking yearning,

wishing the Lost One back

to be with you again,

here and now.

Is it the past calling you back

to a forgotten once-was?

Or the present voicing regret

for moving on without?

Or is it the thin place where

just for a brief breath or two,

in the time it takes to taste

stinging sweetness, impossible proximity,

a spirit’s touch shimmers,

inhabiting the empty  

space beside you,

And then


before you can grasp it.

Alone again,

the road unrolling ahead,

you chase

but never catch

racing shadows

of clouds scudding

along the asphalt.






(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 01 Sep 2021 02:54:22 GMT
duck paddles Created specially for a couple of boys who are raising ducklings this summer.




(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 30 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT
What a difference a day makes

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 27 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT
gouache A quick beach sketch, 4''x6''


Afternoon at the beach, gouache sketch on paper, 4x6Afternoon at the beach, gouache sketch on paper, 4x6

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 25 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 23 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT
soaking summer fun

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 23 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 20 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT
(nearly) Sweet 16

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 18 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT
The Little Mermaid

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 16 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 13 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Say what?

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 11 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 09 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 06 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT
'Scuse me a minute

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 04 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 02 Aug 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Rosseau golden

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 30 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
soaring summer skies

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 28 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
summer at the lake

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 26 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
who cares about a little rain when there's a whole lake to swim in

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 23 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Evening beach walk Oil on canvas, 16x 20


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 21 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
From the sick ward We had a bout of kennel cough recently.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 19 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
more thomson

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 16 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
doggy style in Rosseau

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 14 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
same place, different moods

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 12 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
paddling with mom

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 09 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Farewell to Caledonia

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 07 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Nutmeg's many faces

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 05 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 02 Jul 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 30 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
An impromptu photo session with Shoal

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 28 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 25 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Look up Acrylic on canvas, 16x20


Look up, acrylic on canvas, 16x20Look up, acrylic on canvas, 16x20

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 23 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Coaxing Thomson to swim

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 21 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
wideangle closeups

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 18 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
stripes sits in the sunshine

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 16 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
One of these things is not like the other ones

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 14 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Funny faces

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 11 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
A few recent paintings Some of these are quite small studies, acrylic or gouache on 4x6 inch watercolour postcards.

A lady in one of the art groups to which I belong has a father living in Kissimmee, Florida. He is quite elderly and lives alone. He used to be an artist but can no longer see well enough to paint. She asked if people would be willing to send him cards with their art on them. For the price of a stamp every few weeks, it's more than worth doing.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 09 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 07 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
pretty girls

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 04 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
murder geese  

so serene, yet so bad-tempered.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 02 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT
picking up the torch Taking up the spot where her sister always stood.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 31 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
shutter release... ...also releases dogs from sit, apparently!


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 28 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Happy Place... the lake, no matter how cold or rough it may be.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 26 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Superior shore acrylic, 9x12


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 24 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Daffodils and Daffy Dogs You may notice in the photos of Arwen that I spontaneously decided to paint one bedroom wall in a gradated blue, so I have my very own "ocean'' to look at.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 21 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Atlantic shore Acrylic on cradled birch panel, 16x20

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 19 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT

On June 2, 1998, I wore this dress on my first date with the man who would become my husband.

Two weeks shy of twenty-three years later, I put it on again.


It happened like this. I booked a vaccine appointment and called Tim (he’s away looking after his parents) to alert him that he could book one as well. He managed to snag one for the same time and place as me. Jokingly, he said ‘would you like to go on a date?’.


Jokingly because It’s been a long time since we dated. Of course, in the early, heady days of our courtship, we walked the walk and talked the talk, but two decades later, we’re so familiar and comfortable together that dating now equates with going to the landfill site (together!) to mark an anniversary. True fact: our wedding anniversary often coincided with the large item day at the local dump, and so the tradition was born of the dump date. It’s a perhaps ironic homage to the concept, but also a testament to the lesson we’ve learned that spending time together is what’s important, no matter what it is you’re doing.


When Tim asked me out on our corona-vaccine date, he said ‘are you going to wear the dress you wore on our first date?’ to which I replied: ‘I still have it.’. Beyond the silliness of the banter, I am touched by his remembering the dress, and by my own reluctance to part with it for all these years.


I’ve covered a lot of miles, literally and figuratively, since I first put on that dress. The world is a different place, whether for better or for worse – history will decide that. September 11th happened over 20 years ago. The Boston Marathon bombings were 8 years ago. And we’ve endured a year and a half of a global pandemic. In 1998, Katrina was just a pretty name for a girl and Fake News was not a thing. My father, who walked me down the aisle at our wedding in 2002, has been gone now for 15 years.  My niece and nephew, who were not even born in 1998, are now grown up or just about. It’s been 9 years since I last taught a class, and I’ve loved 5 dogs and three cats – and lost five of them – since the day I donned that pretty little dress.


Obviously, the skin I’m in is different now; I’m a lot more careworn and even more rumpled; I can’t remember the last time I wore makeup, and I haven’t been in a hair salon in three or four years. I sleep in my clothes because it’s just become easier to get up in the night to attend to the needs of a geriatric animal or a puppy. One of the joys of getting older is letting go of all of the esoterica and learning to accept your unvarnished self. I’ve accumulated a fair amount of fractures and scars over the last few decades, and I would not relinquish them. I’ve changed courses, moved houses, made friends and lost friends, shed tears of grief and of laughter, tried and failed (often) or (sometimes) succeeded, fallen and got back up, published a book, taken hundreds of thousands of photographs, run a couple of dozen marathons, returned to art, and travelled from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I’ve learned a few lessons and accrued plenty of memories, some good, some bad.


Call them aphorisms if you will, but if I could go back and talk to that girl who was me 23 years ago, I would tell her that it’s not going to turn out like she planned – and this is perfectly ok. Priorities change and circumstances intervene and open up new paths and adventures. Even the bumps in the road are valuable, because they force us to re-examine, adapt and grow. Everything we do becomes a part of the fabric of who we are. We are the sum of our experiences.


Finally, perhaps the most important part of all : make a conscious effort to take it all in, because it all goes by so incredibly quickly.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Tue, 18 May 2021 19:31:20 GMT
a collection of pretty faces

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 17 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
the ball sank

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 14 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
the number one tip for canine portraiture

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 12 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Cautious is not in this dog's vocabulary

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 10 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
The Thin Place A new painting, oil on canvas, 16x20


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 07 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Grouse Yesterday afternoon, I was working at the computer, in a room that looks out onto our enclosed porch. I heard a loud crash and went out to investigate; it sounded like something large had fallen over. The dogs came out with me of course, and all hell broke loose, because a grouse had smashed right through the glass of one of the porch windows and was desperate to get back out. There was glass all over the floor, and a hole a good foot in diameter in one of the windows. The grouse settled in a far corner while I cleaned up the glass. I opened the French doors in hopes it would see a way out, but saying a grouse has a pea-sized brain would be generous. I could not leave the door wide open indefinitely because other critters would come in, so I pressed the issue and steered it with a broom. It went berserk and flew the length of the porch - straight into the windows at the other end. It landed on the floor with a horrible thud. After managing to survive crashing *through* a window, sadly this second collision did it in...its neck looked broken. So I swept it out onto the porch steps and left it there on the faint hope that maybe it might resurrect, but it was not to be. Rest in peace, grouse.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 05 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 03 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT
A much improved swimmer Compared to last year.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 30 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
first blooms of spring Snowdrops and scilla


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 28 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Take three

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 26 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
playing dressup A little girl must have lost her hairband at the park, and somebody thoughtfully hung it on the fence. We borrowed it for a few minutes for an impromptu dressup session. Nutmeg looked askance at first, but Arwen showed her the ropes.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 23 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
three guesses to whose chewed-up ball sank to the bottom of the lake.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 21 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
shake it up Arwen's expressions never cease to fascinate me.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 19 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
A tongue that would make Gene Simmons blush

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 16 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
April 7, 2021 Back in the paddle again...

7 days ago, the lake was still covered in ice.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 14 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
my mannequins

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 12 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 09 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
different angles, smiley faces

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 07 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
black and white and contrejour

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 05 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
The bend in the road Oil on canvas, 16'' x 20''


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 02 Apr 2021 14:00:00 GMT
we be posin'

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 31 Mar 2021 14:00:00 GMT
What the dog saw

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 29 Mar 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Lake Louise Oil on birch panel, 10'' x 20''


Lake Louise, oil on birch board, 10x20Lake Louise, oil on birch board, 10x20

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 26 Mar 2021 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 24 Mar 2021 14:00:00 GMT
Where'd my ball go?

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 22 Mar 2021 14:00:00 GMT
A trip to the park Nutmeg is always the first out of the gate. Or in this case, into the gate:



Arwen always circles back to make sure mama's coming.

Meanwhile, Nutmeg runs around like a possessed chimpanzee.



And then it's Throw. Fetch. Throw. Fetch. Throw. Fetch. Againandagainandagain.


They never get tired.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 19 Mar 2021 14:00:00 GMT
How happy is this dog? Nutmeg's tail at a shutter speed of 1/50 of a second


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 17 Mar 2021 14:00:00 GMT

Oil on canvas, 8x10


Finlay, oul on canvas, 8x10Finlay, oul on canvas, 8x10


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 15 Mar 2021 14:00:00 GMT
2 new paintings, very different themes  

squall, acrylic on canvas board, 9,x12

Lighthouse sunset, oil on canvas panel, 9x12



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 12 Mar 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Maggie Charcoal on paper, 9x12


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 10 Mar 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 08 Mar 2021 15:00:00 GMT
frosty antics

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 05 Mar 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 03 Mar 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 01 Mar 2021 15:00:00 GMT


When you lose a dog, it doesn't just affect you. It has a profound effect on the other dog(s) in the household. There have been many ways, subtle and not so subtle, in which the dynamic has changed between Arwen and Nutmeg, now that Soleil is gone. I didn't realize until the aftermath that Soleil was the de facto leader. These dogs are all so gentle and good natured that trying to identify an alpha is intrinsically difficult. As I have said before, one of the compelling reasons to take on a third dog was to dilute or attenuate the very strong imprint Arwen had made on Soleil, because we knew that Soleil would not be around forever, and her loss would be catastrophic for Arwen.

Nutmeg certainly stepped up to the plate, and she and Arwen have a great friendship, albeit very different from the bond shared by Soleil and Arwen. They play and roughhouse daily, and they choose to be together when they are sleeping.

I've noticed as well that Arwen seems to have taken on the role of mentor or supervisor. Nutmeg is a mischievous dog, and I know when she is up to something because Arwen has a very overt way of coming and ''tattling'' on her. When it's something really bad, she doesn't tattle...she decamps.

I've also noticed that when we're at the park, as the snow has deepened, Arwen has begun showing a preference for not fetching her ball, but rather for simply trotting around, carrying it. This concerned me; in December, Nutmeg had cannoned into her and split her lip when they both went for a ball at the same time. I worried she might be fearful because of that. Also, Arwen will soon be eight, and maybe she was slowing down? Yet she was still happy to buzz around while carrying her ball. I was puzzled at the change in behaviour.

Over the last couple of weeks it finally dawned on me that something very particular was going on. While Nutmeg is getting better at fetching, she frequently outruns the ball I throw for her, and she's just so damn happy about running at full tilt that she loses her concentration. The snow is deep, and the ball disappears easily, not to be found until spring.

Observing Arwen, I discovered that she has appointed herself to the role of spotter, and if Nutmeg misses the ball, Arwen will very deliberately go to where she watched it drop, and paw at the snow to show Nutmeg, who has picked up on this cue and now uses Arwen as a beacon to find her lost ball. Arwen makes no effort to steal or keep the ball; she steps aside and lets Nutmeg do the rooting around and the finding and the fetching. Then she canters back behind Nutmeg so that we can do another round. She's like a self-appointed big sister.

I know there are many people out there who scoff at the idea that animals are capable of reason or compassion, but the dogs I've had in my life continue to teach me otherwise.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:57 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 26 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 24 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT
a ball in mouth is worth 2 in the snow or something like that


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 22 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT
indoors on the coldest day

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 19 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT
some new paintings on the wing, oil on canvas 6x6on the wing, oil on canvas 6x6

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 17 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 15 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Happy Valentine's day

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sun, 14 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT

One year ago this weekend, February 15, 2020, we brought Nutmeg home. I don't want to call it a ''gotcha'' day because she doesn't feel like a rescue. She feels like she was meant to be, and that she's belonged with us since forever.

She was just a year old at the time and she had been taken in by an angel who had the true selflessness to want what was best for the dog, and who handed her care over to us with trust and tears. Lila, you will always and forever be her mama too.

Just a short week or two after we brought Nutmeg home, a pandemic was declared, and we may never have had the possibility to bring her home. She has become a true member of the family, and she is stepping up as a sister and a best friend since we lost Soleil.

She is a mischievous, busy, funny, sweet character. If I had one word to describe her, it would be ''exuberant''. So even though I don't mark this as an anniversary per se, it's a moment to reflect with gratitude for special dogs and special people.

She'll always be our Valentine dog, in so many ways.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sat, 13 Feb 2021 23:18:35 GMT
where Fahrenheit and Celsius meet

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 12 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT
sisters from another mother

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 10 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 08 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 05 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT
snowy morning

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 03 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT
high key in snow overexposing creatively-on-purpose


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 01 Feb 2021 15:00:00 GMT
In Soleil's woods

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 29 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
snowy early morning

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 27 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
The Meerkat lives on Soleil taught her this.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 25 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
first aid Nutmeg tore off an entire toenail early last week, playing at full-tilt in crusty/icy snow. Didn't break stride, didn't limp, just kept right on going. It was only the blood on the snow that cued me into what she'd done. And every day, three times a day, she'd open up the wound and keep right on playing. It took 5 days for the bleeding to completely stop.

We've beaten a single-file trail down to the play area in the park, and the other day I let Arwen go first, and she stopped on the trail to sniff something. Nutmeg by this time was bearing down on her like a freight train, and I winced, anticipating the impact. Nope. Nutmeg just hurdled right over her, with air to spare.





(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 22 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 20 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Nutmeg the snow angel

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 18 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
the many faces of Arwen

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 15 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
that tail

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 13 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 11 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
Happy 2nd birthday, Nutmeg

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sat, 09 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
more snow fun

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 08 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
pretty ladies

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 06 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
follow the bouncing ball

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 04 Jan 2021 15:00:00 GMT
bye-bye 2020 I'm writing this in the waning hours of 2020, a year that I think all of us agree we're happy to see out.

There has been so much negative in this past 12 months, capped off (personally) by losing Soleil suddenly and horribly just one month ago. We had a subdued Christmas, and tears were shed; I honestly think I'd been reining back the grief in order to concentrate on work, and when I stopped to breathe on Christmas day, it came roaring to the surface. 

We did not lose any family members to the virus, however we did lose some dear friends, and many others were collateral damage - while they did not die of Covid, other illnesses took their life or severely threatened or degraded it, simply because of the lack of access to care. 

Work has become a source of stress for me; Christmas day was the first day that I did not work, weekends included, since March, I think. When you're self-employed, it can be feast or famine, and it's really hard to set boundaries or say no, for fear of losing a client. So you just buckle down and soldier through it. The trouble is, that can become a self-perpetuating cycle, because if you do meet ridiculous standards, then customers come to take them for granted. Round, round we go...

In taking stock of the year from hell, there are however some bright points, personally. Still on the topic of work, it's been a lucrative year, and I've finally managed to catch up on my taxes and even begin setting money aside for plans in view of a possible move. Even though the Boston Marathon was postponed and then cancelled, I ran four and a half thousand kilometres this year, and that helped to keep me sane. Again, indirectly thanks to covid, which brought far more people (and traffic) than usual to our area, I finally ventured off the asphalt and onto the side roads, and it has been a wonderful year for savouring the calm and quiet of the forest and the lakes. Because I was not training, I ran entirely for the sake and the joy of running, of being outside, and of escaping from work for ''me time''. 

Tim got sent home from work in mid-March, and he has been here basically full-time since then. Again, something to thank covid for. Prior to this year, I'd only see him on the weekends, and I would worry so much about his travels between the city and here every week, all year round. We're truly a little family now, and I don't want to give that up.

Speaking of family, we adopted Nutmeg in February, and she has been a crackle of energy and mischief, full of love and fun. She bonded wonderfully with both dogs, and she is firmly established as Arwen's sidekick and best friend. I cannot thank Lila enough for entrusting her to us. 

I have also managed to be quite faithful to my promise to myself to stop work, no matter how busy or backlogged I am, at 19:00, and spend the rest of the evening making art. I received several commissions by word of mouth; I also donated work to four different auctions, and my pieces all attracted multiple bids and sold for good prices. I'm much more confident and bold as an artist than I was a year ago. I am still writing as well. In 2021 I intend to publish a volume of poems married with drawings or paintings. The poems are ready; I just have to decide which way to go with the art, and that's an exciting way to begin the new year.

Finally, having summed up the personal perspective on 2020, I'd like to speak to a more collective positive takeaway that we could all celebrate. If nothing else, 2020 had taught us to practice gratitude, and to not take things so much for granted. We've found creative ways to reach out and care for one another: even if it can't be in person, it's still meaningful, and it's what makes us all human. 


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Thu, 31 Dec 2020 22:56:15 GMT
it got snowy

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Tue, 29 Dec 2020 15:00:00 GMT
and to all a good night Acrylic on gessoboard, 9x12


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sat, 26 Dec 2020 20:25:05 GMT

(no, we didn't get a new dog)

I haven't posted a whole lot on any platform over the past little while. Between work being so busy I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and picking up the pieces from losing Soleil, it's been all about simply getting through each day. 

Three weeks ago, after we lost Soleil, I felt utterly empty and unmoored. Still do, to be honest. Work, in this respect, has been a necessary, overriding distraction, forcing my mind away from the dark places it seeks to go. There has simply been no time for self-indulgent self-pity.

I did wonder however if I would ever feel the desire to pick up a paintbrush and create.

Enter Deus ex machina, otherwise known as Rex.

Rex was half-finished on my easel when we lost Soleil. He had been commissioned by a friend of a friend, as a gift to her friend who had just lost this lovely German Shepherd. In the wake of Soleil's passing, I found myself compelled to finish this painting because of a deep compassion I felt for a stranger who had suffered the same sort of loss. Rex - the painting - is now in Vancouver and will soon be with the woman who loved him in his physical form. 

And thanks to Rex, I got back on the horse, so to speak, and I am carving out time to paint every evening, no matter how busy I am.

To anybody who is reading this and thinking just get over it already, I offer no apology. A heart, given to a dog, grows larger by virtue of scar tissue.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Thu, 17 Dec 2020 20:18:27 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 14 Dec 2020 15:00:00 GMT
look up  

Can you find the heart?

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sat, 12 Dec 2020 15:00:00 GMT
Arwen in her happy place  

Oil on cradled birch panel, 11x14

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 09 Dec 2020 15:00:00 GMT
rosseau doggos

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 07 Dec 2020 15:00:00 GMT
4173 days 4173 days

Note: this essay is not meant for an audience wider than myself and those friends and family who either knew Soleil, or those who have traversed this sort of sorrow and who understand all too well the deep, heavy grief that accompanies the loss of a beloved animal companion. This is primarily a vessel for me to consign thoughts and snippets of memories while they are still vivid and strong. I have a tendency to lock away the most painful memories…they do remain, but under a sort of psychic lock and key, greyed out by my brain as it does its utmost to protect me from myself. I know that with the passage of time, I will become able to smile at all of the wonderful memories and moments, but for now, in the rawness of the immediate aftermath, everything about Soleil is infused with grief and pain.


First, here is a very brief synopsis of what happened, to give context and to fill in the blanks for those who were shocked at the news. Because it was shocking. The entire horrible scene played out in four hours, three of which were the actual drive to the vet and back. We live in a remote area, and as is the wont of crises, things happened in the evening, when our regular vet was closed, and the nearest emergency hospital was 130km to the south. At six pm, life was fine. At 10pm, we came back through our front door having exchanged 60 pounds of dog for a crippling sack of sorrow.


It was horrific. and I don't know what I would have done if I had been on my own, if Tim hadn't been home. As it happens, he had planned to go grocery shopping in Huntsville Thursday evening, and then I told him of my plans to go Friday and he decided just to wait and come along with me.


Soleil came and sat beside me around 18:00, and I petted her head a bit then she lay down on the floor at my feet. Nothing unusual there. She'd eaten her dinner fine just an hour before. Half an hour or so later, I gave each of the dogs a biscuit and Soleil didn't eat hers. She has never, ever refused food. That alarmed me. Then when she went to get up she was staggering and couldn't get her feet under her. She lay back down and I lay on the floor with her and told Tim to call the emergency clinic down in Barrie. Her breathing was laboured. Tim picked her up and carried her out to the car, and I lay in the back with her all the way down. She tried to get up a couple of times but could do no better than a sitting position. The last time she lay back down she folded her front legs under her like a horse or a foal does...a dog never lies like that. The vets brought her in on a stretcher, and because of f***ing covid of course we could not go in with her, and we had to wait for the vet to call us. He came out to speak with us about 20 minutes later and told us that she had a mass around her spleen and it was bleeding. Suspected Hemangiosarcoma. There was nothing we could do except say goodbye. The emergency clinic had a special room that we were allowed into, so we could be with her. They had put her on a gurney on a lovely soft green towel, with a knitted blanket over her. Her IV bandage had little hearts on it. She was already somewhat sedated when they brought her in, and it was over in a matter of seconds. I stood by her head and told her what a good, brave girl she was, and I told her thank you.


Tim had to drive us home 150km in the rain, with me wailing and sobbing and hyperventilating in the passenger seat. I am horrified that this may have been in her for a while and that she's been in pain and I let that happen. I am absolutely wrecked by this.


I can't focus on anything else, and I am surprised I managed to write all of this without bawling.


Soleil was 11 and a half years old. Dogs don’t live forever. I get that. But that doesn’t prevent us from wanting or hoping – or expecting, vainly – that they will outlive those odds. No matter how long they live, it’s never enough.



Soleil came to us at 8 weeks old, and for the majority of her life, I have been home with her every day. For the first four years, she shared her life with Mira, aka the Brown Dog, and after that, with Arwen, her own niece. In early 2020, we brought Nutmeg into the mix, because Arwen was so imprinted and bonded to Soleil that she shrieked and cried any time we put any distance between the two of them. We reckoned that Soleil was getting on in age and that Arwen would be devastated when ‘’the time’’ came. We just didn’t count on ‘’the time’’ being so soon. Perhaps the higher powers steered us presciently on this decision. I always scan the dog adoption posts on social media, and generally I content myself in reading the comments and seeing the numerous offers of good homes, absolving myself of any need to act. I had never considered throwing my hat into the ring, but something about Nutmeg’s photo drew me in. And even as I made contact as a potential adopter, I didn’t expect to be chosen. And even when I was chosen, I didn’t know if all three dogs would get along. But they did, and Nutmeg made three, until two days ago.

Many people reading this will be aware that I took a photo of Soleil each and every day that she was with us, from June 25, 2009 to November 26, 2020. That’s 4173 days without a single miss. I know her so well, from every angle, every expression, every mood, every season, every stage of life. I can see her clearly at all of those stages, from the puppy I cradled in my arms to the gangly, cheeky adolescent; the lovely, sensitive adult; and most lately the talkative, quirky, sweet senior. 4173 days, with adventures stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Lake Superior to Florida. That’s a good, long dog life.


When Nutmeg joined the pack in February, the dynamic shifted, as did the routine, but it was all good. I couldn’t take all three dogs for walks at once, so I had to do it in shifts. Deciding who would go out alone was akin to that logic puzzle of taking a goat and a cabbage and a wolf across the river in one canoe. Arwen could not be left alone; she would go berserk with upset. So it had to be Arwen plus Soleil or Arwen plus Nutmeg, then the third dog would go on a solo walk. Initially, I would take Nutmeg out first then put her in her ‘’bin’’ (crate) and take Soleil and Arwen out. I slipped and broke my elbow in early May, so then Tim was seconded to help with walks and we took all three out at once. By the time my elbow healed, it was swimming season, and because Arwen and Nutmeg loved swimming and Soleil could take it or leave it, I switched up the combinations and Soleil got the solo walks. Compared to the mad charge of the young ones who couldn’t get to the lake fast enough, this daily ritual was a pleasant, peaceful amble around the village and through the woods, or down to the lake, where I would sit on the rock outcrop as she paddled around shoulder deep and had a drink. I think Soleil enjoyed the one-on-one time and it made her feel special.


In May, Soleil developed an eye issue that caused a lot of discharge and a slight closing of one eye. She’d had an ulcer in the fall, in the other eye, and we’d managed to treat and heal it. But this one was not responding to eyedrops, and I delayed longer than I should to take her to the vet because, frankly, when a dog gets to 10 or so you have to think that any and every issue may be the end game, and that the next vet visit may produce a dreaded diagnosis. With the help of a couple of vets, and an ignominious week of 24-7 Elizabethan collar-wearing, we did finally get that eye issue under control and healed. By this time, it was mid-June, and I had the subtle sense that Soleil was slowing down.


Of course, this was to be expected. She was less limber and quick going up and down stairs, and she dragged her feet from time to time when she walked. She needed a boost to get up on the bed. I put her on CBD oil to keep the aches and pains of old age at bay. She was still perky and playful and fully participating in whatever mayhem or noise the other two were wreaking, but she was beginning to act like an old dog…or perhaps I was finally admitting to myself that she was just that. I began catering to her: sometimes if she was curled up in the laz-y-boy chair, I would bring her biscuit to her when the other two got a treat in the kitchen. I called this ‘’room service’’. One of her favourite spots to lay down was the landing of the stairs, because from that perch she could see out through the front door and watch the world go by. Again, if it was cookie time in the downstairs kitchen, I’d stretch my arm up through the banister railing and a soft, unseen mouth would take the proffered treat. I noticed that more and more she began settling down in proximity to wherever Tim or I were working or sleeping, so as to keep is in sight and earshot.


As summer wore on and became autumn, an insidious voice in my head began to tell me I was losing her. There was no evidence to suggest this: she’d had a bout of vomiting and diarrhea in October, but a course of antibiotics had cleared it up right away, and with Soleil like most Labradors such issues are not uncommon. She was still eating well, bossing the other two around, barking at other dogs and cars on the street, and regularly getting her snake out of the toy box to come trotting into the kitchen with it, wanting to be rewarded with a cookie. Take that, little voice!

I reasoned that this voice was simply me subconsciously bracing for the inevitable: I was being melodramatic and hypersensitive and expecting the worst. I told my little voice to shut up. Defiantly, I bought Soleil a new collar for Christmas, with a northern lights design on it, and a new kong toy with ribbons, because the other two dogs had destroyed hers. So there, little voice!


When Soleil staggered and collapsed on Thursday evening, when I asked Tim to call the vet, and as he drove us through the dark and rain and I lay beside her, talking to her softly, the voice was omnipresent. As we waited for news from the vet, I already knew what it would be. Not the details, just the outcome. I felt as if I was looking at myself from a far distance, separated from a scene that I simply could not bear, but had no choice but to let play out. We managed to be brave for her while she needed us, to the very last breath, and then the glassy surreality shattered into a thousand sharp, tiny pieces.


Over the last month or so, there has been a mud puddle along the snowmobile trail that Soleil and I follow for part of our walk. More often than not, I would stop at this stupid, ordinary puddle and photograph autumn leaves floating in it, or reflections of the trees. Soleil would sit and wait patiently, and since I took a picture of her every day, and I had the camera at the ready, I would often also photograph her at this spot. It got to the point that even if I was not photographing the puddle, she would stop beside it and want to have her picture and treat.


On that last day, the day that began like any other, we went for our morning walk, and she stopped near the (now snow-covered) puddle, and looked up expectantly for a treat. I asked her to sit and backed away so that I could frame in some of the snowy background. Soleil has been taught to wave her paw in a true, distinctive ‘’high five’’. She never really does it on her own, but will do it immediately when asked. On that morning, she lifted her paw of her own volition. Whether it was to prompt me to hurry up already with the treat, or to say goodbye, I will never know.

We are at the stage now, two days later, where tears are primed and ready at the slightest prompt, of which there are so, so many. Just this afternoon, a white blanket over the arm of the laz-y-boy had me thinking it was her head propped on the armrest, as she so often would sleep. I am still getting cookies out of the jar in multiples of three. This morning, on my run, I looked down at my sports watch and riding along on the glass was a single white dog hair. Yesterday evening, Nutmeg, who has never shown any interest in the snake, brought Soleil’s toy upstairs. This afternoon, I asked Tim to put Arwen’s tag on the Northern Lights collar, and we fell crying into each other’s arms. Arwen will carry the mantle of her big sister.



Soleil will never be far away.


Perhaps that persistent little voice was the motivation behind two paintings that I did recently – one that captures her essence, and one that captures her bond with me. And I know that I will use my art to spend time with her many more times in the future.


Yesterday, in a context having nothing to do with Soleil, a friend shared the following Shakespeare sonnet. I had never read it before, but it expressed so perfectly what we are living here right now. Especially the final couplet, which is perhaps the most fitting way to close this. If you have read this far, you either loved Soleil or you love me, and I love you right back.


Sonnet 73: That time of year thou mayst in me behold


That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou see'st the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west,

Which by and by black night doth take away,

Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the death-bed whereon it must expire,

Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.

This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well which thou must leave ere long.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sun, 29 Nov 2020 18:26:16 GMT
puddle art

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 27 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT
Soleil 30.04.2009 - 26.11.2020


I could write about what a wonderful, special dog she was.

I could write about all the I-wish-we’d-just-had-one-more trip to the ocean, one more Christmas, one more swim in the lake, one more bedtime cuddle, one more paw on the knee.

I could write about the pure, sweet, unfettered love she gave us every day of her life.

But right now, all I can write about is the void that she has left behind.

Thank you, my love, for all that you gave, and for all that you were and always will be.


I am a box of

Sorrow and loss

Hollow, dark and dull.

How can a heart be

so emptied out

And yet remain

so full?



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 27 Nov 2020 14:27:12 GMT
swimming season endures...for now

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 25 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 23 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT
''ruff'' life

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sat, 21 Nov 2020 03:14:43 GMT
apprentice baker

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 13 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT
A little slice of shoreline This is another small study (4x4 inches) of a beach on the southern Atlantic coast.




(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 11 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT
A visit to Crystal Beach A few weeks ago, back in October. Crystal Beach is a small town near Fort Erie, just across the lake from Buffalo, New York (that's the skyline you see in one of the photos below). The ''other dog'' in this set is Patches; her sister Penny was convalescing from a very recent spay procedure, and couldn't join in the fray. This was the first time since Christmas that I had ventured any further than the grocery store. It was a refreshing change of scenery, and we had a good time with great friends and hosts in their beautiful house.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 09 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT
Rosseau says farewell I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sat, 07 Nov 2020 19:20:09 GMT
Old Woman Bay This is a small 5x7 study in oil of Old Woman Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Two years ago, when life was carefree and we could move about as we wished, we took a trip by car across Canada. Several hundred kilometres of it followed the north shore of Lake Superior: the wild beauty of lake, rock, and forest takes your breath away at every new bend in the road.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 06 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT
That paw Soleil and her paw.

This painting is based on a photo that I took of her while we were standing on the rocks down at the lake shore.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 04 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT

Yesterday morning, a man went out for a run and didn't come home.

Our village is a small one, and this loss is more than a tragic incident, it's a grief that is carried by the entire community.

He was a husband and a father, 43 years old, and headmaster to a private school that overlooks Rosseau bay. Everybody knew him as a good, kind man.

He was hit by a car near the edge of the village. He was out running with three fellow teachers on Highway 141 when he was hit and killed by an impaired driver. Just like that, his life is gone.

The route that he runs is my usual route, the two kilometres of the highway that necessarily have to be covered in order to get to a safer, quieter sideroad.

The speed limit is 50 until you reach the limits of the village, but on this stretch of straightaway, the 80 sign is visible for a long way out, and pretty much nobody heeds the 50. Whether you're a contractor in a hurry or a cottager in a fancy sports car, it's an invitation to hit the accelerator and go.

In my couple of years of running this road, I've seen just about everything, and when I am running along the shoulder, it's akin to being in a giant game of pinball. You see vehicles coming towards you and you prepare to dodge.

Many drivers are courteous and generously move over as they can. But nearly every week there is a fright or a close call. Just outside the village, the bridge over the Shadow river is under construction, and the one-lane temporary bridge is regulated by a stoplight. So traffic comes towards you in packs, conga-lines of four to eight, and if the first vehicle in the line can see you, likely as not the followers cannot, not until the last minute, so closely are they bunched up on one another's bumpers.

Do you want to know how many drivers I see with a phone glued to their ears, even though that's illegal?

More than a few times, when I've been running against traffic, on the shoulder, I've been suddenly caught in the slipstream of a vehicle travelling in the same direction as me, hell-bent on passing another, slower vehicle because said vehicle is obeying the speed limit and therefore holding them up.

I've had drivers lay on the horn, hard, as they draw even with me, letting me know that I have no right to be on ''their'' road. They treat cyclists with even more venom than they do runners.

I've had vehicles purposely drive through slush or puddles to soak me when conditions are already bad.

Three times in the past six months I've had vehicles veer onto the shoulder at me and I've had to head for the ditch.

If you've ever been speeding through the village; if you've ever tailgated another driver to the point that you can't see the road ahead; if you've ever been distracted by your phone or anything else, You OWN part of the tragedy that occurred yesterday.

And to the agencies and overseers and policers of the roads in and around this village, who have ignored the pleas of residents about speeding and road safety, and punted the issue among themselves, you also own part of this tragedy. It was bound to happen, and now it has, and it has taken one of our own.

Yesterday morning, a man went out for a run and didn't come home.

Remember that.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Tue, 03 Nov 2020 17:49:55 GMT
Comfort zone

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
the road to the lake

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 28 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
shake it up Sorry there are so many - these are a repository of future subjects to paint


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 26 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Autumn splendour

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
a girl and her dog A friend of mine posted this photograph of her granddaughter, walking her late daughter's dog. The granddaughter's middle name is the first name of the aunt she never met, but who lives on in her.

I loved the sense of gentle connection between the young human and the elderly dog.



A girl and her dog, oil on birch panel, 12x12A girl and her dog, oil on birch panel, 12x12

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Thu, 22 Oct 2020 18:33:56 GMT




Sitting on the sofa,

Weak, watery January sun

Seeps through the window

behind you, onto the nubbly sweater

covering your fragile bones,

a photo album on your knee.

Pages of memories

released, mind devouring

happier times

before the pain came.

You raise a fistful of Kodachrome

in your gaunt, veined hands,

against the odds you will not

see the snow melt into spring.


Do you feel forlorn? Angry? Fulfilled?

The question, not mine to ask,

lies unspoken between us,

floating among the dust motes

of turned pages and sorrow.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 21 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
the lake at peace The motorboats have been shrink-wrapped or winched up into winter roosts, and the noisy, buzzing water toys have been likewise stored away for another season. The lake sighs with relief, and shows her true beauty. The only noise now is the occasional dip of a paddle.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 19 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Ursa A friend of mine celebrated a milestone birthday today. She loves bears, so for me it was an opportunity to have a go at painting one. This is a 16x20 piece on a cradled birch panel.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 16 Oct 2020 19:16:56 GMT
the sweet little one

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 16 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
the quirky, snuggly senior citizen

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 14 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
arwen swimming oil on board


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 12 Oct 2020 13:30:55 GMT
the crazy, coppery one

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 09 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
autumn skies

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 07 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
advance party

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 05 Oct 2020 14:00:00 GMT
to the sea Another oil painting in the style of SJ.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Thu, 01 Oct 2020 18:21:28 GMT
does my nose look big?

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 30 Sep 2020 14:00:00 GMT
boathouse buddies

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 28 Sep 2020 14:00:00 GMT




Little sliver of sand

tucked in beside

the crooked boathouses;

waves lapping, rolling, roiling,

as the lake changes her moods.

Sun cresting above the

far forested horizon,

scattering a thousand

diamonds on the blue bay.

Tall, lightning-scarred pine,

bared roots grasping the striped granite

like the talons of a prehistoric beast,

presiding over jumbled stone ledges

dipping, slipping under and away,

into a bowl of indigo.

We stand there, you and me,

breathing the evergreen scent

of peace and clear water.

Wherever I may go from here,

and when our ways do part,

this place will remain ours.

Your shadow, mine, the pine’s,

forever together, secret vestiges etched

in the strata of our beloved shore.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 25 Sep 2020 13:12:14 GMT
On da beach A recent painting of Soleil and Arwen, based on a photo taken a few years ago now, when Soleil was in her prime and Arwen was just a sprite.

It was fun to capture their exuberance, matched only by the energy of the waves.


beach buds, oil on board, 9x12beach buds, oil on board, 9x12

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:00:00 GMT
SJ I mentioned to a close friend recently that two of the artists who have had the biggest influence on me both took their own life. One had been struggling openly with depression and shot himself in the parking lot of his psychologist's office, while the other one simply disappeared. His backpack was found on a high cliff overlooking the sea.

On a certain level, I find it incomprehensible that two people with so much talent and apparent success could be so down on themselves. They both were recognized, celebrated and collected artists : in financial terms, they were successful. And money seems to be the primary measure of success to many people.

However, for creatives, it's not quite so simple. I think that there is a constant hunger that gnaws away at the creative person, a sense of inadequacy that taunts and undermines. Looking at their own work, the creative is likely to see only the imperfections and faults: a dimension that is off, or a shadow that is wrong, or a rhyme that just doesn't sing. They're constantly comparing themselves to others or worse, to their own visions and expectations, and feeling that they fall short. This insecurity is both a gift and a poison. Used well, it becomes a motive, a force that drives a desire to do better, to continue onwards in hopes of one day getting it right. Conversely, it can also fuel feelings of unworthiness, frustration and worse. I grapple with this myself on an ongoing basis. It's like having your own personal demon sitting on your shoulder, telling you that it's just not worth it, you're just not worth it.

This flux of emotions is embedded within each and every work an artist embarks upon, no matter where they are in their career. You begin with a vision of what you want to paint, whether it is a scene before your eyes, a photograph, or an image from your imagination. You throw down paint excitedly and see the essence of your vision transferring to the canvas. So far, so good. But every single painting goes through an ''ugly stage'', where you get to the halfway point or so and step back and realize that it looks nothing like what you'd envisioned, and it seems hopeless to continue, impossible to salvage. It takes grit and determination and a sprinkle of pure, unadulterated optimism to get past this and persevere. Most of the time, something beautiful does emerge in the end. However you have to commit to the roller coaster in order to get there.

I found some of the few remaining images of one of these artists and decided to spend some time with them. In attempting to replicate them, I hope to absorb some of the light and inspiration of a brilliant artist who left us wanting more.


she to sea, oil on board, 9x12she to sea, oil on board, 9x12

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sun, 20 Sep 2020 17:38:55 GMT
Gail I lost a friend this past summer. We'd drifted apart after we both moved, but I still considered her a mentor and a force of life.

She was the person who took my love of dogs to a whole other level. She introduced me to the world of retriever training, and we spent many a morning laughing and freezing and watching our dogs streak across a stubble field or swim around in the pickerelweed. She later went on to become a respected field test judge, known for her warm and encouraging character.

She was small but feisty, and she had a huge character, wearing her heart on her sleeve. She would literally give you the shirt off her back. I remember one summer weekend when my parents were away and I took the dogs to the creek for a swim, and Tanna trod on some broken glass and cut her paw very badly. I could not stop the bleeding, and I called Gail, who drove over to our house and took us to the emergency vet clinic in Hamilton then sat with me in a nearby Tim Hortons with all of the rest of the nighttime denizens of the city core, as we waited for the dog to be stitched up. That's just who she was.

She lost her son, who was about my age, about a decade ago, and in spite of that enormous burden of grief, she was brave and strong and always there for others.

She died at home this past June. I went through some photographs of her and found one that spoke to me, that said this is who she is. I painted her as I will always remember her, earthy and vibrant, with a dog at her side.


Gail, oil on canvas, 11x14 (SOLD)Gail, oil on canvas, 11x14 (SOLD)




(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 18 Sep 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Shake it up

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Thu, 17 Sep 2020 00:57:18 GMT
Circle back

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 09 Sep 2020 20:10:07 GMT
More Penny and Patches

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 09 Sep 2020 14:00:00 GMT
quiet time

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 07 Sep 2020 14:00:00 GMT
The inimitable Ms. Nutmeg

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 04 Sep 2020 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 02 Sep 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Fun and games

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 31 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Collateral damage


The summer is coming to an end, and I can't help but feel a certain bereavement, and not just in the traditional sense of the word.

In the abstract, there is the angst of letting go of summer itself, which is ingrained particularly firmly into this former teacher's spirit. For me, when the calendar turns from July to August, even though I've not set foot in a classroom for 7 years, there's still a reflexive gut-check, where I feel the momentum turn from carefree summer relaxation to prep and administration and steeling myself for the inevitable return to the classroom. It's akin to jumping into a cold lake, dread followed by commitment : August is the month of letting go - once  September arrives, there is a brief moment of resignation and surrender, followed by a focus on the here-and-now and a welcome flow of positive energy as I would quickly hit my stride and adapt to the classroom and slip comfortably back into all of the routines of the new semester. By the second week of September, summer was a distant memory, a closed chapter. 

I do not have that sea change any more, and so it is that September and October perpetuate the long goodbye to summer. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I'm not sure. It's nice to enjoy the quiet, post-cottagers, and the weather can be beautiful, with the added bonus of a complete absence of the mosquitoes, black flies and deer flies that remind us that Muskoka is not quite heaven on earth. And of course the fall colours turn the landscape briefly into a CandyLand, a jewelled bonanza of oranges, reds, and golds that quite literally takes your breath away.

However, it's just a prelude to what will follow: six full months of barrenness, cold, and voluminous, angry, snowfall. Bitter winds, frozen fingers and toes, astronomical heating bills, salt stains on everything, the constant worry of power outages, treacherous patches of ice hidden under fresh snow, ready to fell a runner or send a vehicle fishtailing. The stink and growl of snowmobiles. That's our relentless reality in Muskoka, from November right through April. 

This year, however, is in a prism all its own. The seasons seem less defined, because time itself has been reset, and the world is spinning at a different, slower rhythm, thanks to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, restrictions, and closures, followed by the ever so tentative and slow-motion phasing in of a ''return to normal''. Whatever that means. 

On the one hand, the lockdowns and restrictions forced a pause on us, affecting almost every aspect of our life, from the micro to the macro level: personal and social, professional, economic, political, academic, etc. In hindsight, this imperative, collective slowdown was beneficial in terms of slowing down the spread of the virus, though even there it was not without errors - and victims. So far, twenty-five million people around the world have been infected, which doesn't sound like a particularly successful outcome. Nearly 850 000 people have died. Canada has counted 130 thousand cases and nine thousand deaths, most of them elderly people in long term care homes (see remarks about errors and victims above; this will be a scar for our federal and respective provincial governments to bear).

I don't pretend to be a medical expert, so I shall leave the statistics at that, because I want to talk more in the abstract, about the collateral damage of all of this. On a personal level, I have been working from home, self-employed, for quite some time now, so I was not compelled to pivot so drastically as many people had to with their jobs - if they managed to keep them. What I did find, however, was that many of my clients and contacts were now also working from home, and suddenly work was no longer 9 to 5. More and more frequently, jobs began arriving well into the evening and on weekends. Soon I found myself working seven days a week. I know that I should not be complaining, but there truly can be too much of a good thing, and when you are self-employed, you are essentially a ''gig'' or ''precariously employed'' worker, and you have to think long and hard about saying no, because the client can just as easily find somebody else who will say yes. (As I am typing this, a shrill, nagging voice is telling me that I have so many other things I need to get done today, and why am I wasting my time with something that is not work). Sometimes I feel a bit like I am at the end of my physical, mental, and emotional rope, but the only choice, like in the bad miles of a marathon, is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and believe that you can make it.

Socially, again, this has not affected me as much as it has others. Lockdown is in many ways an introvert's dream. No need to make excuses or weasel out of social commitments, because there are none. I read somewhere today that there were some studies out indicating that two metres is not sufficient for physical distancing, to which one commenter quipped: ''In Scandinavian countries, two metres is 18 metres too little''. I think I must have Scandinavian ancestors.

Several of my clients work in the fields of sport and physical education, and it's truly depressing to see the new rules and restrictions governing how sports and recreational activities and learning will be modified and watered down to comply with ''the new normal''. Games and sports are mere shadows of their former selves. Next week, I am going to run a ''virtual'' Boston marathon, just me and my Garmin and the road. As mentioned, I prefer being alone, and quite frankly Boston (the race) is an overwhelming experience for this particular introvert, but at the same time you cannot even begin to replicate the electric exhilaration that takes hold of an entire city on marathon day. Will we ever be able to run marathons like that again? It's a question I don't even want to think about right now.

I'm not a parent, but my heart breaks for those who are, whether it be of elementary-aged kids who can't really comprehend the masks and the social distancing and all of the don'ts and can'ts and nots, or teenagers who rebel at the restrictions preventing them from being normal adolescents and hanging out with their friends, or university students who will miss the entire on-campus experience and do their learning online. In one way or another, academically or socially, lots of them will invariably fall through the cracks. Many of them already are suffering from mental or emotional fallout from this sharp right turn the world had to take.

This past week, I attended a ''virtual'' funeral for a former colleague and friend who had been battling stomach cancer for the past three years. He was only 47. The virus did not take him; the cancer did. But it certainly took a lot of the peace and grace from the process of death and of grieving. Likewise, many elderly people have been completely shut off from family for months, and for the ones who died in care homes, at the height of the crisis, they were not even allowed to have a loved one at their side or within sight when they passed. Others who managed to avoid the virus have suffered tremendously from the forced isolation, and have foundered into depression and dementia. It's a hard spiral to break, once set in motion. 

Another friend passed earlier this summer, from heart problems. She was sent home from the hospital because being at home was the lesser of the two evils; the hospital needed space for virus patients, and she risked contracting the virus if she stayed in hospital. So she came home. And died. 

My father's longtime business partner's cancer came back early this year, but diagnostic testing was put on hold for several weeks in April and May, while hospitals concentrated on the virus. His treatment could not begin until months after the diagnosis. 

However, perhaps the most subtle, yet the most insidious of collateral damage is the bottled-up anger and frustration and fear in just about everybody, that manifests in our progressively more virtual conversations, be it mask-crusaders battling with virus-deniers, opposing political partisans shouting one another down in a vacuum of their own making, or even the looks we give one another, peering over our masks, not with a sense of connection and warmth, but rather with suspicion and fear.

How can you feel anything else but despair?






(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sun, 30 Aug 2020 20:01:21 GMT
the senior citizen

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 28 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 26 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 24 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Haiku An homage to Muskoka cottagers:

Empty bottle of
Moneybag vodka floating
Gently in the lake



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 21 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Don't judge a book by its cover This is Chewy. You would not think a dog shaped like this could swim, but he's a powerful, bold swimmer, and he's at the lake every day in the summer.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 19 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
a bit of bokeh

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 17 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
what I've been up to of late Beyond work, that is.

Lately it's been a real battle to carve out any time at all for myself, and while I'm grateful for the income, it can also be frustrating and exhausting and stressful.

I've been organizing a new studio room, and spending at least half an hour each evening drawing or painting. It helps me to relax and disconnect from the frenzy that is life.

Here are a few recent paintings and drawings.


salt marsh sunset, oil on canvas, 8x8salt marsh sunset, oil on canvas, 8x8 walking on a Welsh beach, oil on board, 11x14walking on a Welsh beach, oil on board, 11x14

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Sun, 16 Aug 2020 22:07:00 GMT
portraits and candids


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 14 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
a sopping labrador is a happy labrador

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 10 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
beautiful dreamer

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 07 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
A couple of quick watercolour sketches When you can't travel because of Covid, you can still take voyages of imagination.

Mountains and two favourite places.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 05 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
aquatic antics

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 03 Aug 2020 14:00:00 GMT
random round-up

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 31 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Patches and Penny  


These two youngsters belong to our friends, Pat and Tanya.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 29 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
seen on my run This young lady was weaned by her mother and has been moping in and around the village ever since. She appears to have little fear of cars or of people, and I am worried that it will not end well...


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 27 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
flour freckles

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 24 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
shrine Not even 18 months ago, I was an inveterate treadmill runner. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in Ontario, I stubbornly sweated it out indoors, proffering all sorts of excuses: I didn't want to leave the dogs alone, it was too hot/too cold/too buggy/too snowy/too icy, there were bears, it was too isolated. And so on.

Then I developed a gait problem/weakness that would not go away, and I tanked several marathons because I couldn't transpose my treadmill training to 42.2 kilometres of pavement-pounding (evidently, I'm a bit slow on the uptake) Finally, in the depth of winter 2019, my frustration level hit a threshold that pushed me outside. It was miserable to start with (I could obviously have chosen a more benevolent time of year to embark on the experiment), but I have grown to love it, and now I do all my running outside. I still don't like the cold, or the rain, or the wind, or the snow, but I certainly do love the beauty of the rugged landscape that I inhabit, and the creatures with whom I share it.

This summer has been hotter than hot, and the heatwave has opened a new chapter of this running outdoors narrative. Until now, I've stuck to the asphalt of the main roads, to stay 'safe'...from the wild creatures, from the bugs, from the risk of getting injured somewhere rather isolated and having to get myself home. 

But the asphalt roads up here don't provide shade, and in the summer, the traffic ratchets up about tenfold, thanks to cottagers and contractors, the former being largely the cause of the latter. So over the past few weeks, I have been exploring the back roads, and enjoying the soul-filling beauty of running in the deep forest, where branches entwine so densely overhead that it's akin to running in a tunnel of green, from the ferns that clog the ditches to the hardwoods that scatter dappled sunlight across the road, to the grand verticals of the pines and cedars that lend a texture of depth and darkness and a beautiful green scent that leavens the senses. More often than not, I will meet no more than one or two vehicles in the space of an hour. The road underfoot, dirt and crushed stone, softens the sound of my footfalls, that make a pleasant, sandy, crunch-swish. The terrain is rarely flat and the road is never straight for long, threading between small lakes and rivers, following ridgelines, skirting precambrian boulders.

The forest never seems hostile. It's never given me cause to feel frightened. I'm aware that the creatures are all around me, and that I'm in their realm, but they seem quite willing to share. Each day brings a different mood : sometimes the forest is dark and broody and enclosing, and others it sparkles and bathes the ferns in backlight. Sometimes the whisper of the branches gives the illusion of rushing water. Even on the hottest of days, there is a cool freshness under the canopy. When I turn back around and retrace my steps, it's almost a shock to come back out onto the asphalt, refreshed and grateful for the temporary respite from the heat, from the traffic, from humanity. 


Deep, deep into the forest, many kilometres from the main road, there is a little shrine. I noticed it on my very first exploration of the road, and remembered that a young man had lost his life there perhaps a decade ago now, in an ATV accident. There are several such shrines that I'm aware of in the area, each of them marking similar circumstances of youth, speed, and alcohol. Some of them are meticulously maintained by unseen visitors; others just sort of fade away. This particular one had been somewhat swallowed up by ferns and grasses, at least until this week, when someone or someones had brought a weed whacker and tamed the underbrush, then spent some time drinking beer with their lost friend. I'm glad that he's remembered. I don't know about feeling his spirit there; I suppose I feel a sadness, but that is more of my own making. Now, he belongs to the forest and its peace.




(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 22 Jul 2020 23:35:48 GMT
in the dandelions

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 22 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
conundrum What to do when you've already got a ball, but there's another one to be corralled?


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 20 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Lake graffiti Lake graffiti


Little bay laps the shore, under solstice sunshine.

Dancing lake takes leaves and sky, cotton clouds,

Shreds the colours, scatters, splatters.


Green, teal, white, and indigo;

Giddy ripples swirl and tangle.

Paint illusions mingle

With riffles and refractions.


Dragonflies dip double wings,

Quilting and unraveling.

Abstractions swell, resorb, reform,

Mesmerize the eyes.


Stained glass water spectacle,

Spontaneous cathedral.

Artist imperceptible,

Ephemeral, ethereal.


Bring me your abuse and hate.

Your sorrow and your fear.

I will persist, forgive, console.

I am forever here.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 17 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Solo and tandem It's become a practice to take Soleil out first, on her own, and then take Arwen and Nutmeg together. This takes the pressure off Soleil and gives her some one-on-one time, and it gives Arwen and Nutmeg a chance to bomb around and blow off some steam.

The other character in this set is Chewy, a rather stout Boston Terrier who swims remarkably well and enthusiastically.

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 15 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
taking the water wings off I finally had the courage to let Nutmeg off the long line, trusting that she will come back, and that her swimming skills are up to snuff.

We also had a short photo session on the big diving rock (which Nutmeg had to dive off). There was sulking from one participant and a levitating bum from the other, but in the end we did get one good picture.



(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 13 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
a bouquet of photos from the village - early summer version

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
what do you see, I wonder?

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Wed, 08 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
doorway It's only during the summer months that the sun's trajectory comes round the front of the house in the late afternoon, creating sun puddles that the dogs love to sleep in. Summer is also the season when we can leave the door from the house to the porch ajar, so scenes like this are quite frequent.


(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Mon, 06 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
fun at the lake

(Paula Banks Pet Portraiture) Fri, 03 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT
some recent paintings  

It would have been my dad's 80th birthday today.

In the spirit of his memory, and in homage to his artistic talents, I will offer up my own recent creations.