Zoe in the Snow

Week of August 3Zoe-web

A few weekends ago I escaped Denver to climb my seventh of the Rockies 14er peaks. My neighbor Stacy and I headed for the San Juan Mountain range in Southwest Colorado – destination San Luis – in her Land Rover. The beginning of the hiking trail to the 14,019 foot mountain peak is notoriously difficult to locate, and it was only during our return trip that we realized how many incorrect turns we had taken before arriving late Friday night.

I pitched my tent underneath the starry skies alongside the Rover which held Stacy and her nine year old labrador Zoe. There was not a cloud in the sky as we headed for the peak the next morning, accompanied by unusually lush greenery and wildflowers that provided great snapshot material. We shared the trail with two hikers on our ascent and only had to veer off the trail for a group of four on their descent, making this the least trafficked of my 14er climbs. We experienced howling winds as we closed in on the summit, and rested on the saddle before crossing the last stretch of scree towards the peak. I snapped this photo of Zoe who collapsed in a patch of snow which she began eating, and spread her bootie-clad paws in front of her. Even faithful companions need a break, especially on their 31st mountain climb!Zoe2-web

Painting Zoe was my first attempt at a pet portrait, and the process lifted me from the doldrums last Saturday morning after a depressing few days. I struggled with the awkward positioning of her front legs and the shadows her body cast in the snow. The different textures and patterns of her fur coat help delineate these areas, and I love the earthy color contrasts. I battled to darken Zoe’s collapsed right side which would have accentuated her tired gesture.

This portrait is proof that I can only gleam a certain amount of inspiration from within the confines of the three bedrooms that I call home. I hope Zoe’s mother will like this piece as much as I do when I give it to her. The three of us are tackling another peak in a few weeks… I wonder if another lightning bolt will strike.

For more pet portraits, please visit Jamie Rowe Photography.

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