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Dream a Little Dream of Me

"Dream a Little Dream of Me", acrylic on canvas by Athena Cooper

This painting captures a tender moment between my husband and our puppy, Lucy, who was only about 12 weeks old at the time. We'd only had Lucy for a few weeks when I took the original photo and it really shows how much love was already growing between these two. There was no question about who Lucy had picked as her favourite human and honestly watch their bond grow has been one of the highlights of 2021 for me.

In creating this painting I realized that because painting has been such a male dominated field for centuries that we've seen far more depictions of male artist's painting their wives as opposed to female artist's painting their husbands—or same sex couples painting their partners for that matter. These intimate paintings have run the gamut from the erotic to the tender and have contributed to all the various ways that women are seen in art through the male gaze.

But what about masculinity as seen through the female gaze? Would men see themselves differently if they saw how we see them? Not just all those "traditional" notes of masculinity, but also moments like this one. I think of all my female friends who have described those tender, hidden moments of fathers playing with their children... or finding themselves unexpectedly emotional watching a movie... or simply showing the sort of love and vulnerability to a partner that they might not feel comfortable showing the outside world.

"Dream a Little Dream of Me"
8" x 10" acrylic on canvas
Completed: December 2021
(Not for Sale)