By Kristin Hoerth
I want to tell you about a member of my household who is very important to me. He’s smart, affectionate, and fun-loving. He’s generally pretty outgoing, although he tends to be a bit shy around strangers. He hates arguing.
No, this companion is not my husband. It’s my 12-year-old black cat, Puck (named for the Shakespearian character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, not the ice-hockey paraphernalia). I describe him this way because he is as much a member of my family—and has just as distinct a personality—as any of my human relations. Unlike the stereotypical aloof feline, Puck loves companionship. He greets me at the door when I come home, hangs out in the same room with me no matter what I’m doing, and watches from the window if I go outside. He’s highly inquisitive, performing a thorough investigation of every shopping bag or shipping box that enters the house. And if my husband and I raise our voices in spirited conversation, he protests loudly until we simmer down.
So it will come as no surprise that I enthusiastically agree with many of the artists featured in this month’s issue, who believe that individual animals have individual personalities, just like people. Says Barbara Meikle, one of the artists featured in “Horsing Around” (page 103), “I want to reveal the singular personalities of horses, not just their similarities. The flick of a tail; the calm, discerning gaze; alert ears—these are all things that can distinguish one horse from another.” Similarly, Jeff Ham (page 106) sees human qualities in the horses that surround him: “I see them every morning, coming and going; they are the neighbors that I pass by and wave to. They remind me of people as they gather in clusters and gossip with their tagalong birds.”
Perhaps my favorite sentiment on this topic comes from Beverly Endsley, who’s the subject of our “My World” feature this month (page 98). Says Endsley, “One of my first animal paintings was of two white male rabbits from the same litter. At first I thought, ‘How will I ever be able to tell them apart?’ After about a week, I thought, ‘How could I ever have confused them?’”
I hope that the paintings of animals in this issue will speak to you of their individual personalities, and that you will share my great appreciation and admiration for the artists who bring us that wonderful connection to the animal world. —March 2012.