Artist with anxiety and depression finds solace by painting her chihuahua
Tita is not just a chihuahua. She’s a queen. She’s a pilot. She’s a nurse and an adventurer.
Perhaps not in real life, but this is who she is in the world of her owner Becki, who paints pictures of Tita travelling the world and playing various historical roles.
Artist Becki Flack first got Tita over four years ago from a couple who bred chihuahuas and were moving away. At the time she was two years and 9 months old, and had mothered two litters.
Tita’s an extremely cute pup, but she’s so much more than that – she’s Becki’s registered emotional support dog, helping her with depression and anxiety that she’s suffered from for over 25 years.
Becki said: ‘When I wake up I may only have a few minutes before anxiety kicks in or it could be straight away and I dread the day.
‘Having Tita has helped me so much as I know I have to get up and walk her as she needs to go to the toilet…
‘She is always happy to see me and gives lots of licks and affection. Stroking her makes me feel calmer and also having her gives me a purpose.
‘When I’ve been depressed in the past I’ve wondered what is the point of my life. My head will tell me I’m a failure, I’ve wasted my life, achieved nothing, and it will never be any different.
‘Now I have Tita to care for. She needs me to feed her, walk her, make sure she gets her worm and flea treatments and vaccinations. I am responsible for her and I have to plan my life around her.’
Given how much Becki loves Tita and loves painting, she decided that the natural progression was to paint Tita, saying the sweet dog inspires her with ‘endless possibilities and ideas for paintings of her.’
Becki has since gone on to paint Tita in all sorts of settings; in Japan , Hawaii, Ghana as well as as Famous Women – Frida Kahlo, Elizabeth 1st and Marie Antoinette among others.
All costumes and backdrops are sourced by Becki, and she says she’s created her very own ‘fantasy world’ for Tita.
Tiny Tita also loves getting dressed up (although she does need to be bribed with treats for the photographs Becki paints from) with the artist saying: ‘She doesn’t mind wearing the clothes and lifts her left paw up first and puts it through an armhole and then she puts the right paw in. She has always done this.’
She only wears the clothes to pose for the pictures but ‘apart from she wears a coat or jumper when its cold and a rainproof coat when it’s raining. Chihuahuas are so small that it is hard for them to regulate their body temperature. They get very cold and need a coat, despite what people think that tell me she shouldn’t be wearing one!’
Inspiration and support aren’t the only ways Tita has helped the artist, either. Becki says that – because of her beloved chihuahua – she has finally become confident enough to show off her paintings.
She showed off her work at the Wimbledon Art Fair this year, and has made social media accounts for Tita as well as selling pictures on Etsy.
‘I used to find it hard to promote myself and my art as I have chronic low self esteem but I find I can promote Tita and the paintings of her which gives me more confidence,’ said Becki.
‘Tita has her own Facebook page and Instagram account with over 3,900 followers! I write poems about her and sometimes recite them or sing them, we both dress up and I make videos and put them on her YouTube channel.’
Although the lockdown has been hard for the both of them, their strong bond has given the pair new purpose.
Becki says: ‘I was among a group of artists who donated artwork to Kings College Hospital to cheer up walls for the staff there. I also did a painting on a heart-shaped canvas to thank the NHS and key workers.
‘It was of Tita with a heart-shaped flower garland around her, on a rainbow with a ‘love-heart sweet’ speech bubble saying “THANK YOU.”
‘I sold it and 5% went to St Georges Hospital, Tooting and 50% of the profits are going to NHS CHarities. I also had Giclee prints made of it and mounted, and am selling them and donating 50% of the profits to the NHS (you can buy them here).
‘This is something that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have Tita in my life. She has changed it so much for the better and brings so much joy.
‘I hate to think what I would have been like in the lockdown without her.’