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  • By Jerry Ann Fenter

Saving Our Animals

Wow...does this quote apply to the political and natural environment at this moment in time. It made me think hard on all of the environmental problems and human rights issues that our country and many more countries in the world have pushed aside and try

to ignore. I never thought that OUR elected leaders in the United States government would reach a point this low. I was wrong. Just watching the morning news or listening to world news it seems that the truth is that now money and business have become more important to our government then inclusiveness, kindness, family relationships, our environment or the wild world that surrounds us. Other governments used to look to us to set the example for leadership in these areas. But we are no more the idealistic country that I learned about in school. I hope that our political leaders will open their eyes and see the way we are influencing others around the world. it needs to

While thinking about these issues I had a call from a couple in Spokane, Washington who

own two of my pieces from some years ago. We talked about how much they liked my watercolor work and were asking about a commission. They especially liked the humor and irony of my "Last Supper" pieces. They were hoping that I could come up with a piece with the same type of feeling of a painting I did Last Supper style called "Your Order's Up". This painting pictured all of the disciples sitting at a long table as in the Leonardo da Vinci mural, but included 1950's style waitresses serving dinner to the men. I am a Catholic so the piece also takes a humorous poke at the church about women.

I told the couple that I'd think on it. So for a few weeks I thought about a subject that would be meaningful to me and would also make a strong statement. I wanted to use the imagery of The Last Supper as a starting point. I've been an environmentalist and a member of the Sierra Club for as long as I can remember. Endangered animals have always been important to me.

I got idea came to me that would make a case for endangered animals and be a "take" on the Last Supper combined. I read about each disciple, da Vinci's painting and picked up all sorts of material on endangered animals. After lots of planning I came up with a commission painting called "The Last Picnic in Paradise". It's 48 inches long and about 18 inches high.

"The Last Picnic in Paradise" by Jerry Fenter

I researched endangered animals and studied da Vinci's arangenment of the disciples. I read about causes of endangerment for each animal I painted. Then I combined the two to make the strongest statement I could. I used religious iconography in the painting to highlight a critical ecological issue. Only one human disciple can be seen. (Judas).You can see his hand holding a coin above a bag of money. I didn't feel like an animal should be put in his place. They are innocent. Only a human can represent the greed and carelessness of the people and governments that harm our environment.

Take a closer look. A burning forest, cooling towers, sparks, clear cuts, a fire extinguisher can be seen in the background. The animals are enjoying a picnic. Perhaps their last. An hourglass is running out of time in the right lower corner.

I am very proud of how this painting turned out. I'm inspired to do more commission work. If you're interested in the names and placement of the disciples or information about the animals just sent me a note with your e-mail address. The Spokane couple loved the piece. I'm hoping to get some interest from environmental causes who might want to use the image. Ideas? Let me know. I'm also working hard on new watercolors taken from some old family photographs. Black and white with a touch of color. If you are interested in a commission or in a piece you've seen on my site...let me know.

I'm off soon to Ireland with my watercolor class. Can't wait to come home with lots of new ideas.

Enjoy your summer. Off to Ireland.


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