Deborah LaFogg Dochtery, whose paintings have won national and international awards and been displayed in art museums around the country and abroad, portrays animals caught in the moment of being themselves. A task she believes is particularly significant in regards to wolves, considering the negative connotations that often surround them in the public’s eye.
“I think it is very important to have wolves in the equation…to watch them and understand their interactions, to understand who they are. There are human qualities about them, they have a family life,” LaFogg Dochtery said.
Selected by the Timber Wolf Alliance, her piece, “Testing the Waters,” features a lone wolf with his nose to the water as mist rises in the background. The paintings’ origin was inspired by a photo she took in Minnesota several years ago while traversing the woods.
The once in a lifetime opportunity came on a cold autumn day after recent flooding. “I was blown away,” she said. It was a “magical moment that was serene and peaceful.” LaFogg Dochtery snapped a photograph of the wolf as it paused above the water.
LaFogg Dochtery takes all of her own reference photos, believing personal observation is always best. The tranquil photo of the wolf would then be used as inspiration for her artwork, where she would be able to add the color and feel that the photograph was unable to capture.
According to Timber Wolf Alliance Coordinator Jordyn O’Gara, LaFogg Dochtery’s wolf in the water lines up really nicely with new research that highlights wolves eating aquatic species. “In many past artwork selections we focused on wolves in the woods, but I think it was important to show them in another setting that is still accurate to their ecology and behavior.”
Wolf Awareness Week, held October 18-24, will feature keynote speaker Dr. Diane Boyd who has four decades of applied expertise on behavior and conservation of large carnivores. The week will also highlight recent research projects in predator-prey relationships in the Great Lakes populations and Yellowstone wolf management.