Tag Archive | Southampton Pet Hospital

Artist Bruce Hilvitz immortalizes Reggie J Rabbit in Portrait

Reggie hanging out

This is the photo we sent Bruce. Look below to see Bruce’s work.

I have written about our Warrior Bunny, Reggie. He is funny, mischievous a little pushy at times but we love his spirit. Almost a month ago, we had a scare. Reggie came down with something. He stopped eating, and started losing weight. He became lethargic. So we took him to his vet, Dr. Riddle. He got an injection of antibiotics and an additional 7 day supply of antibiotics to take home. It took almost 7 days before we saw that he was making a recovery but he is doing awesome now and from this experience he has become more affectionate and sweet. He will come up to me and ask me to pet him. if he is in his little hiding place under his chair and I need to see him,  I call him and he comes out so I can pet him. This experience brought us closer together. I realized then I wanted to get a portrait done of him. I have never been able to paint or draw rabbits but when my husband’s Friend, Bruce Hilvitz, who is a very talented artist donated a pet portrait for the yearly Humane Society of the North Bay’s Barkitecture,  I asked Bruce to make a portrait of Reggie. It was an easy process. We sent Bruce a hi-resolution photo of Reggie and he sent us back a digital file of Reggie within the week. It was really fast. He really captured Reggie’s essence. As I am looking at Reggie’s portrait, these questions about Bruce’s art started flooded in my mind.  How did he develop his style? Does he believe he has to suffer for his art? So I decided to ask the artist himself. Here is a short interview I did with Bruce:

Did you take formal art classes?

Bruce: One month in art school was all I could muster. Back in those days, where I was, there wasn’t any respect for cartooning in art school.  Although, I did grow up within an arts community, via my Mother, so way before High school, I had experience in virtually all disciplines of art

What was the defining moment when you realized you wanted to pursue your art as a career?

Bruce: I can’t recall one, per se…I’ve always drawn, played with paints, clay, whatever was handy at the moment.  I’ve always relied on visuals, be it art, toys, cars, buildings…anything that I enjoyed looking at.

How do you describe your art?

Bruce: My art and career has been based on comic art mostly.  Something I’ve been drawn to my whole life (no pun intended).  It can run the gamut since I’ve had to learn to wear many “hats” in order to make a living … comics don’t pay very well, and they are time consuming. Illustrations a bit better, general graphic design, hourly, is the best.  Special projects, here and there are also nice when there’s that opportunity…like book design, and editing, limited edition print production. 

What artists influenced you when you were developing your style?

Bruce: Early on I was weened on MAD Magazine, of course…guys like Basil Wolverton, Jack Davis, Wil Elder, Harvey Kurtzman. I had a very short lived love affair with super hero stuff…I appreciate that stuff more now, than I did then…but my true love came to light when I first laid eyes on a Robert Crumb comic, and it finally struck me with the thought that ANYTHING is possible. And so it is.

How would you describe the medium you work in?

Bruce: These days it all seems to be based on digital technology.  I sometimes start with a regular ‘ol drawing that I scan then work out color or details in a vector based program, usually Flash or Illustrator. I don’t draw “on paper” as much as I really should, digital art doesn’t have the tactual satisfaction that paper does…no originals to really drool over. You can see who has “chops” when you see an original drawing on stiff white bristol board.

Do you agree you have to suffer for your art?

Bruce: No, but it helps. Truthfully it’s a tough profession, if you are not willing to sacrifice common things in life, then you better think of something else to do.

When did you decide to start doing pet portraits?

Bruce: I started this past holiday season…I live in a neighborhood with many, many dogs, I figured someone might be interested…just another “hat” to wear.

Do you have any animal companions?

Bruce: The best dog on earth…a reformed runaway name Aristotle. A black Pekingese, only an Anti-Pekingese…he doesn’t bark, maybe twice a year, if that…he does sneeze, and fart a lot though…I can’t blame him, he’s in the neighborhood of 14 (years).

This Is Bruce's pride and Joy, Aristotle.

This Is Bruce’s pride and Joy, Aristotle.

Any advice for aspiring artists?

Bruce: Don’t do it!!! no…just learn, work hard, be honest with yourself…  The best advice I try to follow, not sure who said it, in the lines of… “Do art as if your parents are dead.”

Can you expand on that philosophy- “Do art as if your parents are dead.”

My interpretation is ‘don’t be afraid of what other people think…just do it.’ Criticism, and especially self-criticism, is the death nell of art. Even though it’s hard to avoid, or listen to.

For anyone interested in having you create a portrait for their pets how can they contact you?

Bruce: Easy as going to my site…

www.flatwurks.com

Bruce captured Reggie's essence.

Bruce captured Reggie’s essence.

Reggie the Veggie Boy

Reggie hanging out

Reggie is better than ever, but taking a break from his running around.

This is Reggie. He eats veggies. He loves them. He also loves bananas and apples. Recently he had a healing challenge and I wanted to tell my story about the power of love, trust and healing (which I think is all part of the same thing). Reggie is a happy 5 year old mini lop who loves to leap into the air at a moments notice; he also loves to tear apart card board, phonebooks and rattan baskets; I call him destructo-bunny. This is a way for channel his aggressive energy. He also loves to do things to make me laugh. I can be sitting in front of the computer working, he will nudge me and when I go to pet him, he will run away so fast it looks like someone lit his tail on fire (of course we would never do that, but I think you get the idea). He loves to tease me. When he wants attention he will let me know. Sometimes I will get on the floor with him and he will come up and sniff me and put his front paws on my leg. Yes, we have a great relationship. Two weeks ago, I noticed he was not as active as he normally is. When I or my husband David came in to give him his favorite greens, he wouldn’t get excited and run up to his bowl. We got him into the vet to find out what was going on. The vet said he could have picked up an infection. Because bunnies have very delicate digestion problems, it could have been anything. We do feed him a good diet. his favorite greens, parsley, cilantro, dandelion greens, a small carrot in the evening; a small piece of banana as a treat; and plenty of hay and water. Dr. Riddle, from the Southampton Veterinary hospital in Benicia, CA, gave him a shot of antiobiotics, a shot for any pain he may be feeling and sent us home with more antibiotics. When I saw the vet tech give us the drops and instructions, I think David and both had a feeling of dread-we had to somehow get the drops in him twice a day. Bunnies, being prey animals have a hard time if someone holds them down to them medicine, even if this will help him. I had the fear we wouldn’t be able to do this. The other thought that came up-usually when I have had to give antibiotics to my other bunnies, it never seemed to help and they would go to the dandelion field in the sky. We took Reggie home and observed him. I had to keep telling myself “he is going to be ok, just get through the week”. The first evening, David tried to give Reggie his drops by himself. He normally is the one who takes care of that part when our 4-legged kids get ill. Reggie seemed sedate until David put the dropper close to his mouth, then he darted out of his arms with more activity than I have seen since he got ill. It was so traumatic for all of us. I thought “we are never going to get these drops in him twice a day for 6 more days-it’s never going to happen”. Both David and I knew we couldn’t give up. The next morning I did a healing meditation and asked my guides what we can do. I saw our little Buster, our other mini-lop who died from cancer, a week before Reggie got sick. He came to me and said “Don’t worry, mom, Reggie is going to be ok, it is isn’t his time to leave yet”. I was in the circle holding Reggie, all my guides and allies around us. Through visualization, I was shown to have David hold Reggie when we give him his medication and I was the one to administer the dosage “just do it really fast, keep calm and you will do just fine”. I also communicated to Reggie what we were doing, and what he was to expect. Then I thanked my guides for coming together, closing the circle and getting back in my body. I told David what we needed to do. He went to hold Reggie, I got his medicine out of the refrigerator,  filled up the dropper, found the side of his mouth and shot it in quickly. He didn’t flinch, in fact he started licking around his mouth where I squirted the medicine. It was banana flavored. It must had tasted ok.

Here he is, bunny napping.

Then he took a short nap. A miracle? Yes, but that what life is, a small series of miracles that show up unexpectedly. So we got past the first hurdle. The next hurdle? Getting Reggie to eat. He was still barely nibbling his greens. He was still eating some hay, but not with the same enthusiasm and voraciousness, he normally has. I kept praying. I would ask Buster. “Are you sure he is going to be ok, or are you just trying to make me feel better?” Buster thought that was an odd remark. He is honest, there is no reason not to be honest. He just kept saying. “Just wait”. I also thought from a rabbit’s perspective being a prey animal, if they are not feeling vital, he may think it is time to leave his body. So two days later, on a Saturday, I sat down with Reggie and said out loud. “I know you being a prey animal, you may not realize you can get well, but your body is strong, you are a warrior bunny, tell your body to start healing itself. Even we humans get sick and it may not feel good, but we let our bodies get well and we are fine. You can too. It isn’t time for you to leave yet”. I stopped talking and continued to sit quietly. Next thing I know. I see Reggie leaving his pen and running out and exploring, which he hadn’t done since he got sick. He became animated again. I took out some parsley and presented it to him-and he ate it! I took a little more out gave it to him and he gobbled it out.  Once he took the first bite that Saturday his appetite came back quickly. What a relief. We got him to take the rest of his drops and only protested a little the last day.

Reggie looking debonaire

Reggie looking debonaire

I am so grateful for the close connection I have with my guides. They helped when I was feeling lost and discouraged. I listened I surrendered my doubt and replaced it with Faith-a deep knowing even if I can’t see the physical evidence. Reggie was back. We got through it, we faced out fears and I believe this experience brought us all closer together.