Wherever I go, Nikki is with me. Well, most of the time. We go on walks together and visit friends and family together. When I leave the house, I usually also take my camera with me, as I'm always looking for interesting things to shoot. Because Nikki is often with me, she regularly shows up in pictures I make and post on the internet. Her being in my pictures on Flickr, Instagram, Facebook and on my website makes her a familiar sight for hundreds if not thousands of people who visit these pages. Now, next to being photographed, and her image showing up on the digital highway, they now also exist in a more analoge form; in paintings. This is the story of how her foxy smile was captured on canvas.
Some time ago I was informed by a colleague of mine, that another colleague (Monique Bouter) was looking for subjects for her paintings. She was looking for interesting dogs to paint. My colleague had suggested to Monique that she should take a look at my website and the photos I took of Nikki. She did and she was immediately infatuated by Nikki's appearance and the pictures I took of her. She contacted me and asked permission to use my pictures. I happily agreed.
Not long after Monique started painting I received various updates via Whatsapp about the progress of the painting she was starting with. It was one of Nikki with scarf. Not my favoriete picture, for technical reasons. It was a fairly old picture and I clearly missed focus making this picture. Her nose is in focus, not her eyes. Nowadays I wouldn't post this picture for that reason alone. When I saw the painting for the first time, I thought it looked pretty good, even though there were some aspects that didn't quite hit the mark, it was very close capturing the spirit and look of Nikki.
Next was the picture of Nikki near the radiator. I really like that painting! The glimmer in her eyes and her look perfectly captured. It is also one of my favourite photos of Nikki, as it shows her character so well and the way she manages to convey her feelings. Monique did a great job transferring this to the canvas. In an earlier draft of the painting the little duck in the background was also in the painting. But it was too distracting and didn't quite work. So ultimately Monique decided to leave it out of the painting and this was (also in my opinion) the right decision to make.
Next was Nikki with her favourite toy. I truly gasped when I saw a first draft. I fell in love with it. when I saw it finalised in an exhibition it moved me. I never experienced this while looking at a work of art before. But I found this one truly awe inspiring. It is as if she's looking right at you and it really captures the Nikkiness of Nikki. I immediately knew I definitely wanted to have this one on my wall. Whatever the cost!
The final one made (until now) is Nikki enjoying the sun on a garden chair. Also based on one of my earlier photographs which is also technically not quite what it should be (the horizon is a bit crooked). But that was corrected in the painting. It also clearly shows that Monique is making an interpretation of the photograph (leaving things out and also changing certain things), like she also did with the other paintings. Looking at what works and what doesn't and not just copying what's already there. I like the picture of Nikki in the chair very much. It's funny and if I would choose another painting for in my home, and I just might, it would be this one. Looking at it just makes me smile.
Last Friday, it was D-day. Totally unexpected I got a message from Monique that it was okay to collect the one painting I really wanted to have, which was at that time hanging in our office building.
This made my day and I was smiling from ear to ear on my way home, while hanging it on the wall and even when I went to sleep. I was so happy!
These paintings are like the photos I make, a capture of a fleeting moment in time. Things change, you experience things in life, and the memories you have fade over time. But looking at photos and paintings bring close of what once was. I feel lucky Monique chose Nikki as her subject and felt confident to share her creative proces with me. It was a beautiful experience.
Nikki's photograph with her favourite toy was made three and a half years ago. Decades, when you translate it into human years. She still has the ball and it is stil her favourite toy. But both show their age.
As you can see Monique did a great job, bringing Nikki's image from my photos to her paintings. You can find more of Monique's amazing work here: https://mbouter.exto.nl/