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Scout in the Snow

TL;DR: I miss my dog.

Scout, the dog belonging to Charley Hellier, artist.
Scout the Dog

My dog, Scout, was 16 (and a half) when she died, just after the New Year weekend. She’d been struggling more with old age over the past year and I was glad we had that last Christmas with her and she got to enjoy her usual steak treat. However, in that post-Christmas week, her health took a bad dive and I nursed her for several days until we could see the vet. I knew it was the end for her. We were fortunate that I could arrange for her to be put to sleep at home, comfortably and peacefully in our arms in the morning of Jan 4th.

I adopted Scout in December of 2007 - a Dogs' Trust rescue. She was already 1.5 years old, had been rehomed once but returned, as she had a lot of issues with anxiety. She was referred to as one of their special cases at the centre. My first couple of visits with her, she hid away from me behind some chairs. Really, all she needed was someone to be quiet and chilled out with her and to coax some confidence into her, gently.

She was a very affectionate and beautiful soul and we were dedicated companions for 15 years.

Scout, the dog owned by Charley Hellier, artist, jumping high for a ball
Scout the Flying Dog

We made so many memories together, walking around the parks, down by the river Aire and on the moors. She was extremely agile, and loved to run and jump like a flea after a ball.

I always said we rescued each other - I was in a dark place when she came into my life and she was like a bright spark of light that kept me going. She is very missed.

About a week after she died, I started a painting, featuring Scout, from a photograph I’d taken, in December 2009.

Scout, the dog owned by Charley Hellier, artist, standing in the snow, looking towards a misty sky with a golden sun. The background fades into fog in the distance and there is ice and a snow ball
The reference photograph

I’d intended to do a painting from this photo for a long time, but had wanted to test out some techniques before attempting it. Now seemed a good time to try to capture the feel of the atmosphere and to celebrate her. The day in the photograph was foggy and misty, the snow starting to thaw - we were in Tyldesley, Lancashire, visiting my family. Shortly after I took the photo, Scout went running and skidded half way over the ice with her legs flailing.

A painted version of Scout, the artist Charley Hellier's dog, with dog hair added into the paint
Detail of Scout in the painting

We had a little collection of Scout’s stray hairs and I cut some up to put in the paint when I added her to the painting. Maybe that's weird to some people, but... I don't care.

The result is a painting full of emotion, with Scout looking away towards the vague, misty distance, bathed in the glowing light.

A painting by Charley Hellier of her dog Scout standing in the snow, looking away from the viewer and towards a misty sky with golden sunlight. There is a patch of ice beyond where some children have rolled a huge snowball. Beyond that, the landscape fades into the fog. Grass shows through the foreground patches of snow. Scout is black and textured with dog hair from the artist's dog.
'Scout in the Snow', oil (and dog hair) on wood panel, 16x12"

I’d like to work with some other photos from the same day to make a little collection. They were taken on my old phone, which had a terrible quality camera, but I think that added to the weird mistiness…

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