Series 1: Dogs

I’ve been painting horses and donkeys in landscapes since about 2016 but I felt that there was something missing and wanted to go deeper and more conceptional with my work. It all really started when I read the book “A Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD”. It’s a fascinating book about her stroke on the left side of her brain. At one point she described what it was like to have lost that functionality.

“I was consciously alert and my perception was that I was in the flow. Everything in my visual world blended together, and with every pixel radiating energy we all flowed en masse, together as one. It was impossible for me to distinguish the physical boundaries between objects because everything radiated with similar energy. It’s probably comparable to when people take off their glasses or put eye drops into their eyes-the edges become softer. In this state of mind, I could not perceive three-dimensionally. Nothing stood out as being closer or farther away. If there was a person standing in a doorway, I could not distinguish their presence until they moved. It took activity for me to know that I should pay special attention to any particular patch of molecules. In addition, color did not register to my brain as color. I simply couldn’t distinguish it.”

I wondered, is this how animals might experience the world? Do they see the world as energy? What do they really see? It was amazing to me that we have this ability to perceive energy, but we get so caught up in analytical details. The reality is our world is designed for left-brain dominate thinkers.
The paintings in Series 1, have been created utilizing a limited palette of blue, yellow and purples to represent how dogs might view the world. Unlike humans, who possess three cones for color perception, dogs have two cones, sensitive to blue and yellow wavelengths. Dogs can detect ultraviolet light as well. Scientific understanding suggests that dogs see the world in shades of blue, yellow, and gray with reds appearing as muddy yellow and greens as white. Perhaps, dogs might have other visual abilities we’re unable to perceive, like seeing energy fields or auras. I’ve diverged from science to represent what I imagine a dog might see.
Unfortunately, I’m unable to paint smell nor sound. From our own observations and from science we know dogs have extraordinary sense of smell and superior hearing ability compared to ours. There is also some research to suggest dogs have infrared sensors in their noses, but the precise function and purpose of these sensors remain unresolved.
The reality is every animal on this planet perceives the world in totally different ways from our own. What does the world look like through their eyes? How do their senses diverge from our own? How is their experience different from our own? To truly understand an animal, it is critical to understand what their point of view is and how they might perceive the world.
The first part of the series is how dogs might see the world. I used my dog Violet as she explores the land surrounding my home as my model. She’s a young Belgium Sheepdog with a ton of energy and an extremely high prey drive. There are many deer living in the neighborhood and Violet wants to chase them. Sometimes she gets loose and off she goes. My intent was to create this imaginary world based on the landscape and infuse it with color, mystery, and light.
The plan for the next series is to show how horses experience the world. What is most intriguing about horses is they have eyes on the side of their head and can see almost 360 degrees with blind spots directly in front and back. The green colors in the hill country amazing so the paintings will very green. After that I plan on doing birds which will prove very challenging since they have color vision widely different from our own. They see colors we can’t even fathom. I’ve included a science section with links, downloads and books I used.