Unconditional Love

Pepi by Kendrea Rhodes

Her eyes filled up, even before she saw the artists’ statement that said, the painting was for her.

This is Pepi. He was one lady’s best friend and he stuck by her through a failing relationship and very rough times. When she was finally out of that situation and safe, she walked the road of regret over leaving Pepi – even though she had no choice. Her heart had been broken in so many ways but his loss was the one she would talk about.

She described how Pepi made her feel, the colour of his coat and those deep, dark eyes. On and on she went, because in her darkness, Pepi was the light – he loved her unconditionally and was the only one who did. She described his protectiveness, strength and robustness; his territorial Blue Healer aggressiveness and the pink flowery couch that he loved to sleep on.

Painting friends is a tricky art – just one stroke can change their identity – and their identity is the whole point. Imagine then, the many strokes required for the likeness of your best friend, the one who loves you unconditionally. It’s not just a look, but the look – those eyes, you know all the signs; hunger, confusion, happiness, expectation and adoration.

I took on this venture on because I hoped to fill a little of the hole in her heart and there wasn’t much else I could  do. But I feared my will was greater than my skill, so I did a lot of listening and painted straight from the heart.


My head would say, ‘you can’t do it like that,’ and my heart would say, ‘yes I can.’ I trusted my instincts and threw away a few fundamental rules – no under painting, warm colours in the background and receding colours in the foreground.

The finished painting elicited an unexpected response, one that I will never forget. It was hung in an exhibition at the Hahndorf Academy, along with many others, but this one boasted a sold sticker from its inception. We surprised the lady with a trip to the gallery and as she wandered through, looking at all the paintings, she spied him.

Her eyes filled up, even before she saw the artists’ statement.

She just said, ‘Pepi.’

Tears streamed down her face as we quietly told her that this painting was already hers.


©Kendrea Rhodes 2023

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