Wow! Did I meet a neat sheepman, who is a shepherd, breeder, and owner of sheep, and his sheepdog, a dog trained to guard and herd sheep, any of several breeds suitable or originally bred for this as a Collie, an Old English sheepdog.
Sheepdog trials are a contest of competition in which sheepdogs are assessed on their performance in various tests of their ability to control sheep under the direction of a shepherd.
What is a sheep? A medium-sized horned gregarious grazing ruminant animal the numerous varieties of which are widely domesticated for their woolly fleece, meat, skin and milk. Any of various grazing mammals of the genus, Ovis and related generally closely allied to goats.
The domestic sheep as a symbol of righteous person (with reference of Matthew 25, 32-33, "God's chosen people, the Church with reference to Christ as the Good Shephard. John 1-, 1-16 a person receiving or requiring spiritual direction or sustenance, a member of a congregation , a parishioner.)
A person likened to a sheep or being defenceless, inoffensive, liable to stray, a stupid, timid or poor-spirited person.
How in the world did I meet a sure enough real sheepman and his sheepdog? Where was I? Frank, my husband, and I just happened to be eating breakfast down at The Starkville Cafe one Saturday morning on a cold December 2, 2007, and we were back inside the second room of the cafe, and there sat our good friend Dr. Leroy Boyd who we call "Mr. Sheepman Of Mississippi State University" and his best friend in all of this world, Mr. Emil Luedecke (promounced as "Amil".)
What drew me to Emil were his wonderful dark blue and white striped overalls, his blue-blue shirt and his blue-blue eyes, and that wonderful and very handsome hat!
He was a portrait just crying out to me, "paint me, paint me!"
We have known and love Leroy and his sweet wife for years and their two daughters who are one of our son's age, Frank Davis, Jr., and I think his oldest daughter was "Little Frank's" classmate and in the band program with him. On a white napkin I quickly wrote down some information about Emil knowing that I would one day sketch and paint him on a piece of 16 X 20 cotton canvas.
I kept this folded up napkin for a very inspiring "portrait-to-be." On that cold December 2rd early morning we shared our breakfast with these two best friends... as we laughed and talked together... crunching on whole wheat toast, bacon, sausage, and scrambled eggs over cups and cups of hot coffee!
Do you have a family, Emil? "Yeah, got two dogs!" So, two dogs and one man is his family! Got "Ben", eight years old and "Spot", four years old. Been to the World Trial in Ireland, and they are tri-colored sheep dogs and travel with Emil all the time. "Ben" traces back to "Bo," a dog Dr. Leroy Boyd owned and raised. "Bo" came from a female raised... and "Floss:" was the Mother of "Bo." "Floss, "Mother of "Bo" was pregnant, and came from England (I was thinking to myself, "Oh how royal is this lineage of dogs!) My first litter of Registered in American Border Collier Association, Perkinston, "Bo" is from a later litter...my notes trail off the old napkin as my favorite waitress, Shirley asks us, "Want a refill of coffee in yall's cups?"...
It was not until another cold winters' day on February 11, 2008 that I painted this portrait of "Emil” and "Spot," and my memories of that first meeting with him down in that little extra room in the back part of our Starkville Cafe, the absolute "hub" of Main Street...eatery...in our city of Starkville.
The Starkville Cafe is "The Place To Be On A Saturday Morning ‘Chit- Chatting’" With Good Old And New Friends!"
It was on Dec. 2, the year or so before when I got the call on a Sunday to come on down to the cafe to see and visit for "a spell" with Emil and Leroy Boyd. I was dressed in all red with a huge feathered hat on because for me it was the beginning of our Christmas season. I was running a little late, but I was not going to "miss my date" with Emil and his two dogs! Frank was already three seated at the table, and Emil and his two dogs had had a lovely time spending the night at the home of the gracious Leroy and his sweet wife, Catherine Boyd.
Let me tell you what I know about Emil. Just in these two conversations with him, and I knew he was definitely a "Free Spirit" He lives (or as we say, "stays in a place"...in Missisisippi we ask a person, "Where do you stays?")
He stays in a place called Zephyr, Texas. I think it is a "spot" south of Dallas, Texas and Fort Worth, Texas on a big farm where he has registered Border Collies.
Both he and Leroy who "gave his life to sheep" at MSU... are both big members of The American Border Collie Association. They both are very serious, "SHEEPMEN!!"
How was Emil dressed? Stripped dark blue and white overall. He had a "Sheep Caller", a whistle around his neck, and this huge blond, fancy and very stylist huge western blond colored hat on his head. (unlike my big picture felt red Christmas hat I was "sporting" for this Sunday's church service later) His beard was white with touches of grey mixed in, and I immediately sensed a real "dry wit": about him. He was my kind of Gentleman!
Back to hat...I had never seen a hat quite like this one, and I really had been drawn to his very face and its features the very first time I ever saw him.
When Leroy Boyd picked up his cell phone and dialed my cell phone that early Sunday morning Dec. 2, little did he know that he had just provided me with a perfect subject that truly "belonged on my canvas!"
As the three gentleman sat (Frank, Leroy, and Emil)... I sat and talked to Emil getting to know my "portrait-to-be" and jotted down again on a old paper napkin notes about a face sitting and chatting about his life right "smack in front of my face" to be captured forever within paint on a simple canvas of a memorable Sunday breakfast morning sharing our memories and lives together as now, four...four good friends!
I knew when breakfast was over I would be going outside to Emil's old truck to meet "ROYALTY", his two dogs, "Spot" and "Ben!!" Emil Luedecke gave me his white "calling card" with a sketch at the right hand side of the top of this card, a Registered Border Collie, Emil Luedieke, 701 FM 1467, Zephyr, Texas, 76890 with a phone number and a e-mail address.
So...on a Monday, Feb. 22, 2008, I got up really early long before day light even thought about appearing... to begin my portrait of a "True Blue Wonderful Sheepman And His Sheepdog, "Spot"!
As I slipped out of a warm and cozy bed, I had a real "skip in my step" as I was very inspired to begin my "adventure" of painting a very special man and his dog!
I had all of my needed art supplies laid out before I had fallen to sleep the night before, so I was all prepared to begin with my pencil the sketch of my subjects.
I had chosen a 16 X 20 piece of stretched canvas, and I chose the down-stairs/Sun Room Art Studio. In our renovated family home, I have two Art Studios in which I create, Up-Stairs Art Studio, and my Down-Stairs Art Studio, and I chose this Down-Stairs one for the natural northern light to provide me this fine light without cutting on lights when the sunlight finally did appear for this day
I had chosen to paint "Spot" over "Ben."
I had found out from Leroy Boyd that "Spot" had won first place in Ranch Class at the Blue Grass Kentucky 55 entries. It took him six minutes to complete his course, and "over all combined score!”
I was about to embark in painting two big winners, Emil and "Spot," two portraits on one canvas of the "love" of a man and his dog! I would be sketching, "love," and then I would be painting," love" this day! Is this hard to do?
Sketching an emotion as strong as "love"? It’s easy because this is what I love most in my life is putting on my "Art Hat" and doing my thing, simply being an artist!
This is what I do best of all and without a doubt my very favorite thing in all of this world, is wearing my "Art Hat" and becoming an artist with each and every canvas that I spend filling it up with lots of colors and getting lost in "my own bubble world” ...blocking out the rest of the world for 17 hours non-stop to complete a painting and sign my full name at the bottom and date it.
A fun, inspiring journey I take with each and every creation of mine coming from the deepest part of both my heart an soul. It is what I do best!
So...I had so much fun painting Emil and "Spot". After all..."Spot" is one of Emil's family members, and the bond between a man and a dog is indescribable (if there is even such a word?) I think so, if not... it should be a word, agree? To back up a little...back to The Starkville Cafe the two times I got to share my early morning breakfast with these gentlemen in 2007 and 2008...and after many cups of coffee, I did go out to the parking area in the back of the Cafe to meet "Ben" and "Spot"
For some reason I chose "Spot" over "Ben" to paint. "Spot" was the younger of the two dogs..Emil looked older than he really is, and "Spot" looked younger that he really is.
Age makes no difference! They each, (Emil and "Spot") each complimented each other. "Spot" is a black, white, and orange and burnt orange colored dog. These colors complimented Emil's white, pinkish skin, his white salt and peppered beard (black, white, and grey) also tri-colored like "Spot's" tri-colored body.
Emil's dark blue and white overalls compliment all of the other colors, and his straw hat was to absolutely, "die for!"
To be honest, I wanted his hat myself. Wonder where in the world did he get his hat?
I wanted one just like it, and I would have added bows and flowers on it to dress it up a bit, but what a "gorgeous hat" was on Emil's head!
The dog whistle is around his neck, and I could only paint the strap that is holding the dangling whistle at the end.
This is a very valuable whistle to a sheepman and his sheepdog.
"Spot" learns to follow orders by the sound of Emil's whistle. Sheepdogs are highly intelligent and obey well his Sheepman.
Both subjects fit perfectly on my canvas. Look at the purple-blue shirt, and you can see that he has a tiny bit showing underneath those wonderful overalls and look for the brass holder holding, snapped and holding up the strap of his overalls over his one shoulder.
Emil is with great love and affection and with great care too, holding "Spot" in his arms.
Look closely and deeply into the eyes of "Spot"...does he not love his master with all of his heart, Emil Luedecke... and does Emil not love his favorite sheepdog with all of his heart?
I think that Emil and "Spot,"..."make quite a pair," don't you think so?
Some day, if I get out to the state of Texas near a spot on this earth called, Zephyr, I want to find Emil and "Spot" and "Ben" too.
According to Dr. Leroy Boyd, "The Expert On Sheep" here at MSU, Mr. Emil Luedecke lives a "free-spirited" life style.
I grew to love Emil because he is definitely, “his own man.”
And take a good hard look one more time deeply into his blue-blue eyes with me and and look once again at his expression on his entire face, he is definitely one of America's treasured and beloved, "free spirited" and...it was my honor and pleasure to meet... A REAL SHEEPMAN AND HIS REAL SHEEPDOG JUST PASSING THROUGH STARKVILLE!