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Tamara Thornton: Going To The Dogs

September 1, 2015 - SLO Journal Plus

By Robert Simola

I was looking at a cartoon about dogs the other day that showed happy, excited dogs doing things like eating breakfast, running after a ball, and taking a nap on a bed. And under each image was the line, “The best thing ever!”

For me, this sentence captures the essence of what dogs are like. It certainly encapsulates what my dog is like whether she is getting a treat, chasing after a butterfly, or simply lying in the sun. Whatever she is doing, it seems like she is feeling that that is the best thing ever. And since my dog is the best dog ever, it is appropriate that she feel that way. Of course no one agrees with me since dog lovers each think their own dog is the best.

Tamara Thornton of Studios on the Park in Paso Robles certainly does not agree that I have the best dog ever. I’m sure she thinks she has the best dog ever. Speaking about her favorite subject she says, “I have always owned and loved dogs.” and that love shows in her paintings. She doesn’t try to paint portraits of individual dogs. Instead she captures the spirit and life of the dogs she paints. Her paintings capture the essence of the various animals.

“My greatest challenge is overcoming that sentimental imaging that comes naturally with animals.” Thornton says. As a result, her paintings are not idealized images but images that include the dogs' imperfections and flaws. They are paintings of what we hope and expect our dogs to be like. They capture dogs’ joy and love of life. Her dogs are not well groomed, static animals, and it is their lack of perfection that makes them perfect.

Her paintings capture dogs in the midst of life and shows them experiencing the best thing ever whatever that best thing is. It could be sitting in a car with a window open or running across an open field or playing Frisbee. The subject and activity may change, but the life and vitality of the dogs in her paintings shows the viewer that dogs are indeed the best things ever.

Thornton says, “I try to capture the underlying qualities that we all can relate to in our love of these creatures.” and she succeeds. Her impressionistic style shows us the life and joy her subjects experience with the ordinary activities of their lives. Her paintings reflect the love she has for her subjects.

The best thing ever? Spending some time with Tamara Thornton’s animal paintings has to be high up on the list.