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Dog Days

The constellation Sirius


The brightest star in our solar system, approximately 2 times greater than our sun, is Sirius (Canis Majoris), the Dog Star. The Ancient Greeks named many constellations after gods and creatures in their mythology. Sirius, was the faithful dog to the hunter Orion, another prominent cluster of stars in the summer night sky. Since Sirius is only 7 to 8 light years or about 50 trillion miles away, it’s the hottest and brightest star in our solar system, and most visible on those steamy sultry summer nights in August. Thus, giving us the term “Dog Days” in reference to the hottest days on our calendar.


Sirius, 2017

By Acchi Aya Sanchex

Acylic on canvas, 9"x12"


Sirius Listening, 2019

By Dennis Goodbee

Acrylic on canvas, 12"x12"

August evokes images of dogs laying under shady trees, kids playing in water, and cold beverages on the patio while basting in your own juices. Air conditioners are running full blast amid the vapor trails resonating off scorching blacktops. Lawns are turned to crispy straw from the lack of rain. These are the days that are so hot and muggy you just don’t feel like doing much of anything unless you have to. My studio is clammy even with the ceiling fan going and the windows open. The acrylic paint I mix on a palette is dry before I get to apply it all, productivity is spotty at best.


Sirius, 2018

By Teal Swan

Mixed media on canvas

Princess of Sirius, 2008

By Eleonora Ivanova

Acrylic on canvas, 21"x21"


Sirius Rising, 2017

By Clarity Artist

Mixed media


I think about artists who worked Plein Air in the French or Dutch countryside 200 years ago out in sun baked fields trying to capture the moments that would live eternally on canvas in climate-controlled museums. That process had to be absolutely miserable, fully garbed in wool and linen with straw hats fighting heat stroke and bugs along with all the other little annoyances that come with trying to make art out in the middle of nowhere. No double walled aluminum water bottle to keep your water cold for 12 hours, no Bluetooth earbuds to soundtrack your endeavor. Just you and your thoughts and a whole lot of heat and humidity. There’s that old expression that an artist must suffer for his art, so is this what they meant? Can you imagine spending a 90-degree afternoon in a grassy marsh trying to express how the light beams through Cypress trees? Trying to mix the right amount of sap green with ochre to paint the lushness of a meadow in the blazing midday sun while squinting so hard your eyes are barely open?


Summer Landscape, 1877

By Volodymyr Orlosky

Oil on canvas


The Camp, Sirius Cove, 1899

By Tom Roberts

Oil on canvas



Fortunately, artists these days don’t have to work in such conditions, unless of course they want to. Heat and humidity don’t stop creativity, or any weather for that matter.


August is summer at its climax. It’s summer vacations if your lucky enough, beach days, ballgames, and day trips to local vineyards. And if it’s not, shouldn’t it be? I know life doesn’t stop because the temperature is over 90, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could collectively slow down to enjoy the Dog Days of summer. Keep in mind, I live in upstate New York, at best we get maybe 3 months of “summer” weather. Within those 3 months, at least 2 weeks won’t see the thermometer rise to above 72 degrees. So, I won’t complain about a couple of weeks of 90-degree weather.


Sea Watchers, 1952

By Edward Hopper

Oil on Canvas



And while we’re on the subject of Dog Days, my little furry guy will have his first birthday around mid-August. Not for nothing, it’s too hot for the pup too. He will play in the backyard for a little while, or pup step through the neighborhood, or enjoy his doggie Ben & Jerry’s with me on the patio while I listen to the ballgame, but he’s no dummy, he likes to be inside where it’s bug free and away from the muggy hug of August. For him, cool hardwoods in front of the air conditioner is living the pup life.

Take a moment to look toward the heavens on a clear August night and find the brightest star (Sirius) while lounging around a fire pit with some buds. Perhaps, you would rather staycation with a dedicated pool day complete with several pitchers of Margaritas and choice grill selections. Maybe an afternoon at the beach with a stroll along the boardwalk with some ice cream is more your speed. Just know that it’s not this hot for long. In total, we have maybe 2 to 3 weeks in August and sometimes a rough week in September of brutal heat then we head into autumn. It goes so quickly, so enjoy!


A Wheatfield on a Summer Afternoon, 1942

By Marc Chagall

Oil on canvas



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