Blue Dog

Blue Dog painting by Tracey Mackie

When parents label children, they live up to their expectations. My sister was considered artistic. She could paint and draw, and I couldn’t. In my family I was joking referred to as the Blue Dog Girl.

It all goes back to an incident in grade one. My teacher gave the following instruction, ‘I want you to draw a colourful dog.’ She walked past the desks handing out art paper. ‘You may get your pencils out once you have your sheet,’ After these scant instructions, she returned to her desk on a raised platform at the front of the class.

            I slowly slid the zipper over the interlocking teeth along the edge of my pencil case and took out three coloured pencils. I sharpened each one in turn and laid them out in a row in front of me. The lingering spicy smell of the wood mingled with lead shavings made me feel giddy. I wanted to surround myself with this luscious scent.

‘Stop making a mess on your desk,’ the teacher called from her seat as she looked over her glasses that had slipped down her nose. I sunk into my chair. When I felt the danger had passed, I let a breath escape slowly. I then looked at my three pencils and, on a whim, chose the blue one.  Heads down, we were completely absorbed in the task. The only sound was an occasional rustle and the high-pitched legato scrape of pencils on paper. 

            I have always loved dogs but wasn’t allowed to keep one in our small flat. To be asked to draw a dog in class was treat. I loved the freedom my teacher gave us to choose the colours for ourselves. I liked that I had coloured the head blue. I decided to add blue ears and, for good measure, a blue body. After that, the legs were also coloured blue and when I came to the tail, I let my pencil glide in long strokes to give the dog the bushiest blue tail ever. I leaned back to admire my creation from a distance. I smiled at the crazy creature that peered back at me with one eye. 

‘What’s this?’ the teacher’s voice boomed. ‘What were you thinking? Well? Have you ever seen a blue dog in your life?’ I opened my mouth to answer but no words came out.  ‘What is going on in that head of yours? Tell your mother I want to see her!’ She shook her head, turned on her heels to clippety clop her way back to her desk. 

            At home, through tears, I tried to explain. ‘But she said to draw a colourful dog and I did. Besides, I like blue.’  My mother laughed and laughed. I couldn’t see what was so funny. ‘Our Blue Dog Girl, you’ll never be an artist,’ she said. This story has been retold many times over and has passed, embellished, into family lore. I had become the Blue Dog Girl who couldn’t draw.

            On the wall of my current study, I have a picture of a blue dog. It was painted for me by Tracey Mackie, a local artist who lives in the Central West of New South Wales. It is one of my favourite paintings. I love the way Blue Dog looks at me quizzically, flaunting his red bandana. This dog commands attention and won’t let anyone mess with him. Best of all, I finally wear the mantle of Blue Dog Girl with pride.

12 thoughts on “Blue Dog”

  1. I am so glad you finally wrote about the Blue Dog. I now have a better understanding of your state of mind at the time.
    How wonderful that you came across this lovely painting. It is as refreshing as the story you shared. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s great we all look at the world differently, how boring it would be otherwise! You’re one of my kind! 😀

    If you can’t paint (which I am sure you could 💜), you can most certainly write! Another beautiful piece!

    Thanks for getting me to paint your special blue dog xx

    Liked by 1 person

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