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July 2018

- Domino -

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Donkeys are known to be very persistent and patient. Wouldn’t they be the ideal model for my first animal picture? “Sure, you're welcome to paint my donkeys,” enthused Horst, an early retiree and donkey lover who had settled in Portugal. “And I have the ideal model for you: Domino! For he is the most beautiful of all.” Only a few days later we had an appointment on the field behind Horst’s vegetable garden – the three of us. “You’re staying here to hold Domino, aren’t you?” I asked hopefully. “Come on, he won’t run away from you. Just look, he has ankle cuffs,” Horst reassured me. Somewhat convinced, I sat down in the shade of a large umbrella pine tree and began to paint. Domino watched me with interest. Great! I had quickly sketched it and was happy about making good progress. But suddenly the little donkey lost interest in me and my painting: with a pitter patter of steps it turned around on its own axis and now looked only towards the small pine forest in the distance.

It was one of those fiery July days in Portugal. Sitting in the sun in front of Domino without a hat and continue painting – no, that was not going to be an option. Therefore, I stayed in the shade and painted the pines, the bushes and the grass. “Domino!” I whispered finally, attempting to lure him back, getting louder, then shouting. But nothing attracted his attention. Last resort: carnival songs! I knew quite a few of them and sang them as loud and as flat as possible – and had success with my oh so beautiful musical performance. Domino turned to me again, apparently listening ecstatically while I kept belting out songs and painting. But what was he doing with his legs? One about the other, was he dancing? No, he was tangled in his shackles. “Wait, I'll help you,” I said and jumped up to untangle the long rope. I had to untie the knot for that. The clever Domino immediately recognized the situation and seized his chance: a few small steps, a jump and already he ran away with a donkey gallop, his cheerful donkey scream blew after him and sounded loudly over the wide field. Horst had of course heard that in his house. Thank goodness! Only a brief time later, the little escapee was brought back to me safely. A few more areas of colour here, a few strokes there – and finally Portugal’s most beautiful donkey was painted. The picture was finished by the light of the evening sky, just in time. Finally!

Isn’t it said that donkeys are simple and stubborn? This preconception does not apply to Domino. On the contrary. I found him very receptive and blessed with humour. When I visited Horst again a few weeks later, I was naturally also looking forward to seeing Domino. Did he recognize me? Anyway, he ran up towards me in a donkey’s gallop as soon as he saw me. Did he even remember our day together? His donkey scream sounded very happy – and almost as eerily beautiful as my singing at the time.

 

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