The Big Surprise–An Art Conspiracy!

Yesterday I got to be part of a great story involving hero husbands, unsuspecting brides, their dogs, and my artwork.

Some time ago, I was contacted by a nice fellow who saw my work and decided he wanted to surprise his wife with a portrait of their dog, a lovely Goldendoodle named Shelby. But he wanted to make the surprise extra special. He suggested that I hang the finished and framed piece in my public studio and he would orchestrate a trip to bring his wife in so that she could “discover” the painting. What a great idea!

Meanwhile, he told a friend about this little plan, and the friend decided he wanted to do the same thing for his wife. They would spring the dual surprise on the ladies at the same time. Seriously, are these guys romantic or what?! Suddenly, I had two portraits to paint and frame, not one!

So I did some quick estimates based on my queue and we set a date. I got to work, staying in touch with the guys by email to report progress as is my usual practice. On the morning of the big day, I hung the paintings. Next to each, I put a small name card in light blue lettering so that they weren’t very noticeable unless you really looked. Here’s how the paintings looked hanging in the studio, on a wall that isn’t visible until you actually come into the studio (the name aren’t visible because I hadn’t made them yet when I took this shot):

I sat in the studio sketching, waiting for the couples to arrive. Fortunately, I looked up just as they arrived at the studio next door. When they wandered into my space, I greeted them all in my usual way. The first thing Wife #1 noticed was my husband’s turned wooden bowls on the counter just below the portraits. As she went over for a look, she noticed the black dog’s portrait. She stared at it for a few seconds.

“That looks just like Boomer!” she said disbelievingly, turning to her husband. His response was a non-committal shrug and nod. (I have to hand it to the husbands…they played it so cool throughout the whole thing whereas I could barely keep from cracking up!) She leaned in for a closer look at the painting and noticed the name plate.

“OH MY GOD, his name is Boomer, too! How weird is that? That is just so weird!” she exclaimed, looking at Wife #2 for confirmation of the weirdness. Wife #2 nodded, kind of confused about how that could happen. Then she noticed the white dog’s painting.

“That looks just like Shelby, too” she said, not quite clear on how there could be a second equally strange coincidence. She looked at the painting for a few seconds then noticed the name cards. “And the name is Shelby too. That is just CRAZY! How could that be?!”

The two women were utterly confused and looked at me, as if for some explanation. “I know,” I said. “Isn’t that crazy?!” It was SO hard not to burst out laughing at that point! Then Wife #2 looked at me, looked at her husband, and looked at the painting, then literally jumped back a foot in shock as the reality dawned on her.

“That IS Shelby, OH MY GOD!” she said in an excited voice, pointing to her arms where all the hair was standing up. Hee hee!

“And that’s really our Boomer, isn’t it?! OH MY GOD!” said Wife #1, looking at her husband questioningly. Of course, he nodded. Then the original conspirator, Wife #2’s husband, finally spoke up and said, “Well it’s about time you figured it out! It’s been weeks of work to make this happen!”

We all had a great laugh while we filled them in on the details of our little conspiracy. Needless to say, the ladies were utterly charmed and thrilled.

I was thrilled, too…how many artists get to participate in something as cool as this where their art features center stage in a fantastic romantic surprise? Not many, I bet! I feel privileged that these two fellows chose me to help them surprise their delighted wives with portraits of their dogs. What an honor! The guys expressed great appreciation for my efforts and I could hear the gleeful comments of the women as they explored the rest of the gallery. A success by any measure!

The whole thing was simply awesome and I was on a high the rest of the day, so thanks for letting me be part of this wonderful thing you did for your wives, Mark and Mike! You guys rock!

And last but not least, here are the two REAL stars of the show, Shelby (top) and Boomer (below):


It was really cute to hear the comments of the couples as they examined the portraits more closely, pointing out the little details that they recognized as being their dogs’ features and appreciating the work. This was a truly special day with truly special clients. It sure is one I will remember forever!

And meanwhile as this was ongoing, my portrait queue was filling up so I had better get back to it…I have a lot of work to do!


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