“In painting,” said Degas, “you must give the idea of the true by means of the false.” Appreciating the talent behind Amber Alexander’s satirical animal portraits in watercolor requires that one constantly be reminded of this fact: true is quite different from real, or logical, or cognitively harmonious. Only a few of us would ever imagine our pets bedecked in such archetypically human garb or wearing such disconcertingly personal expressions—the halting melancholy of Lovey the rabbit, the coy smile of little Mademoiselle the fox, the knowing gaze of Victoria the high-society doe—but we can not deny that these images convey intangible truths. Alexander’s animals are, in some ways, more truthful than we are. Take Les Mews, for example. Perhaps the idea of a cat as a smartly smocked Frenchman isn’t an incredible stretch, but to add the element of Revolutionary history, and a locked-in feline stare that could be construed as suspicion or pride or both, well, those kinds of layers create an image that lingers with us long after we’ve forgotten where we saw the picture in the first place.
Of course, painting these people-pets with such jarring authenticity doesn’t preclude the idea of having a little fun with it, too. If you can’t enjoy the delicious wit of a wary-eyed squirrel pausing from her attic scurrying to try on a bit of domestic attire in A New Apron, you’ve probably missed the point altogether. It is also worth mentioning that Alexander’s fare isn’t limited to modestly costumed mammals. Somehow an amphibian (Burp) or two made it into the gallery, as did an invertebrate (Octo), neither of these being any less delightful than the other subjects, which include birds, bats, and insects in addition to the creatures already mentioned. And since this writer had such a difficult time choosing a favorite, it’s likely you will, too—but you’ll have to do just that when you enter this giveaway. In a wonderful gesture to our readers, Amber Alexander is giving away the Print of Your Choice to one winner. As with past giveaways, participating is painless: Visit Amber Alexander’s shop on Etsy, choose your favorite print, and then come back here to tell us about it in a comment. You may receive an extra entry for subscribing to our newsletter; mention your subscription in a second post and confirm your subscription. You don't have to have a Google account to participate. Click "anonymous" or "name" to enter. The winner will be chosen randomly. Contest ends 10/10/08. Best of luck!
**We have a winner. Melanie who said "My favorite is the Little Burp - Print Reproduction of watercolor." Congratulations!