Monday, January 30, 2017

DIY – Animal Lover's Happiness Jar

I do love Liz Gilbert.

I love her honesty and the down to earth vibe she exudes. I also think she’s wise, and heavens knows, we need wise woman to follow right here, right now.

I love the fact that as a bestselling author, she’s approachable and friendly.

Mostly I love her good, simple advice.

Last year I read her post on creating a Happiness Jar. The idea being, that you scribble a note about the happiest moment of your day and pop it in a jar, where your collection of happy notes grows though the year. At the end of it, you tip out the contents and read a year’s worth of happy memories. 

I loved the idea. So I found a jar and some post-its and added a new happy memory every day.

It only lasted until February. 

When I opened the jar and read some of those notes, it brought back the memories of how I felt a year ago.

My Joe dog was sick. I knew he was dying. We were having a hot, dry summer in Johannesburg, it hadn’t rained in weeks and the heat was making me as cranky as hell. I wasn’t having a fun time. As 2016 (not surprising it wasn’t a great year, right) got underway, the idea of feeling happy, or capturing happy moments that I wasn’t really feeling, started to feel like a burden. I was irritated that I couldn’t feel happy, no matter how hard I tried.

The under tow of grief had already begun and I knew that at some point Joe was going to leave his body and I wasn’t ready for that.

The point of this post is not to speak you out of creating a Happiness Jar, but to encourage you to get cracking on yours now.

Here’s why.

Joe died on the Easter weekend and I spent the rest of the year sliding down the slippery slope of sadness and depression. I finally had a turning point in November and felt like I could let him go, along with the tired, heavy grief.

So when I tipped out my Happiness Jar notes, the one that made me burst into tears, read:

4 January
Watching Joe run down the driveway towards me.
I love that dog SO MUCH!

Two lines. Some words. Strung together on a small piece of paper. 

It was my happiest memory in eight weeks worth of notes. 

You see, I’d blanketed the entire year in gloom and sadness. I didn’t expect that sudden spark of happiness attached to a memory of him, especially one that wasn’t sad.

Although the note is short and doesn’t detail anything else around that moment, I can see him in my mind’s eye, how his ears flapped along with each joy-filled bound. Because he only ever bounded along, joyfully. I can see his usual expression, his smile, while he exuded his pure dog happiness.

And while that memory made me cry for a good half-hour, I was also flooded with happiness when I read it. It was like his essence was captured on that small piece of paper.

That is the single reason why I think we should all keep a Happiness Jar. 

Because we forget the small things. I remember the time Joe ate my Flower Essences for Animals book, the strap off my riding hat and chewed the side of my riding boot. His teeth marks are still visible, eight years later. I remember how he ran towards me with a rotting fish in this mouth! You can read that here. There are a ton of other memories, but it’s those small, insignificant moments from everyday life that we’ll want to hang on to and remember. 

How to make your Happiness Jar

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#52weekillustrationchallenge ~ WEEK 2: FEATHERED ANIMALS

The Lah-Di-Dah Hadedah
Water colour and felt tip pen. 

Our garden is populated with these birds. 
I always hear lah-di-dah rhyming with hadedah in my head.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

PetPawtrait's Festive Tree Trinkets

These were so much fun to make. 

They really challenged my creative process. 

Each one was different...

I loved adding small stars and choosing backgrounds...

... to match coat colours and temperaments...

... and then wrapping them up to be opened on Christmas day.

Some were special surprises for friends, like this one of Jack and Engineer.

Our Teddy doggle got his own trinket for our tree...

... and I made one of my Melody mare who I lost just before Christmas 2004.

Some were commissions...

I'm so grateful that I can combine my love of animals and creativity
in my heart-based business.

Want your own?
Fill in the contact form on the right and I'll send you all the info you need to place an order.
You'll also be signed up for my newsletter, so you'll get my ebook: 

The PetPawtrait Guide to Snapping Portrait-Perfect Pix

Thursday, November 26, 2015


This is sweet Noodles, heart dog to long-time client Robyn Lensen.

I've had the pleasure of capturing Robyn's fur family in pastel over the years. 

Noodles, 41x30cm Pastel

She lost her beloved Noodles dog suddenly last year.

It feels like my heart does indeed break when I bear witness to my client's sadness.
I always wish I could wave a wand and make the grief more bearable, or somehow lessen their loss.

Sweet travels, dear Noodles. You were loved and are dearly missed.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hamsa ~ Inspired by nature

Hamsa ~ Peace, inspired by nature

I recently discovered 100Mandalas and I have to say, I'm addicted to mandala making.
Participants were invited to submit a Hamsa design for 
100 Mandalas Coloring Book Volume 2.

The brief

Working with the Hamsa symbol, this coloring book will reflect that desire we all have for more peace, love, and happiness. The Hamsa is a familiar symbol of the open palm that traditionally represents protection and blessings. Since the symbol of the hand is shared among many faiths including Jewish, Muslim, and Christians, the Hamsa has become a symbol of peace in the Middle East. I'd say the Hamsa is the perfect symbol for this coloring book peace project. Don't you?

What on earth is the Hamsa symbol?

The hamsa is a familiar symbol of the open palm that traditionally represents protection when the fingers are pointing upward and as a symbol of blessings when the palm is open and the fingers are pointing downward. Since the symbol of the hand is shared among many faiths including Jewish, Muslim, and Christians, the hamsa has become a symbol of peace in the Middle East.

The colouring craze is in full swing, that's for sure. You can join in when you
subscribe to 100Mandalas​ and download the free Hamsa colour book here.
My design is on page 37 and was inspired by the peace I feel in nature.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lloyd in coloured pencil

Lloyd, a sweet SPCA find, captured here in coloured pencil.

Lloyd, the sweet Scottish Terrier, was found at the SPCA and given a forever home with a lovely human and dog family. He joins the three legged Cassidy, also a rescue; and the sweet dog family of my lovely client, Amy Merritt.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bliss Mandala


with movement

Mandala making