When I started my pet portrait business in 2011, I received one of my first pet portrait commissions of a dog named, Jessie. The client ordered the painting as a surprise gift for her partner, and a back and forth gifting of my custom artwork between the couple ensued (adorable, right?). Not to mention, many, many, referrals.... I am so lucky to have such supportive patrons! Below are the paintings I completed for this particular couple at the beginning of my pet portrait career: 

Jessie.jpg

 

Flash forward to 2015!! Lots has happened since I first received these early commissions (biggest understatement of the year). I received an email from the client who commissioned the portrait of Jessie:

...Sadly, Jessie passed away last week. She was a terrific dog - incredibly well traveled. [Her owner] took her everywhere - beaches, forests, mountains. I was thinking of having another small portrait done in her memory.  I'm thinking the same size as the others for Bo and Jessie. I thought perhaps the attached image would be good - it shows her lovingly looking up at [her owner] while we are on a gondola. Do you think this would make a good portrait?

I literally started to tear up when I read this. Four years really have gone by quickly! The description of Jessie's life was so beautifully written. A whirlwind of emotions hit me when I saw the photo of Jessie she wanted to have me paint. It perfectly illustrates the relationship between Jessie and her human, and the intense emotion between them. There is nothing that compares to that adoring, faithful gaze, and I couldn't imagine a better photograph to work from to commemorate her life. 

Here is my artistic interpretation of the photo:

I adapted the photograph to fit in my style and to match the other paintings, but I hope this photograph is framed and hung in a special place in their home, as the context (the gondola, and the position of Jessie next to her owner) is such an important part of this photograph. Rest in Peace sweet Jessie... I hope there is an infinite number of squirrels to chase, treats, and belly rubs over that rainbow bridge!

A couple weeks ago my boyfriend and I embarked on our second "tour." I was invited by the Animal Rescue League of Boston to come join them for their event, "Paws in the Park," in Brewster, MA. I have been told repeatedly to market myself out on the Cape because people love their dogs so much out there that I figured it would be a good opportunity to make the trip to the Cape an extended business/marketing trip!

The flyer I made that I posted on social media and shared in my newsletter! The weather didn't agree with my plans though :)

My boyfriend, who is the owner of Spruce Vintage and is a vintage men's clothing dealer is always down for the count when we travel... there has to be some good left-behind summer clothes in the Cape, right? (Well... not really, but at least we learned!) We booked our camping sites in Provincetown and in Brewster, packed a little too much stuff into my car and headed south (returning home only twice for things we forgot).

The woman who I was in contact with for the Paws in the Park event had introduced me to a couple pet businesses on the Cape, and I made a stop at "Cape Cod Dog" in Eastham along the way to visit the store, leave behind some business cards, and pick up some flyers for the big event on Saturday! The store is super adorable if you haven't been :)

We finally got to our campsite in Provincetown and it was a perfect little place to call home for a few days. I had to finish up the outlines on one of my paintings (Loki) to make it display-ready so I worked on it at the campground.

Ever seen someone working on a german shepherd painting at a campsite? 

The next day I was supposed to be setting up downtown Provincetown on Commercial Street but it was downpouring!! Samir and I kept waiting in the tent for it to let up but it did not cease.... How was I going to get the painting work finished that I needed to do?? It then hit me! The Cape Cod Dog in Eastham would be a perfect place to set up for the day while Samir went off scavenging for treasures! They were happy to have me and it was a wonderfully pleasant place to work for the day. I met many of their customers and their furry children and I got some good work accomplished on my portrait of two cockapoos, Bentley and Heidi!

 My easel set up inside "Cape Cod Dog" in Eastham, MA

My easel set up inside "Cape Cod Dog" in Eastham, MA

That night I was awoken at 4am from Samir playing music on his phone. I asked him what he was doing and with a tremble in his voice he whispered, "something's out there!" Sure enough I heard it for myself: the crackling of plastic food containers and the satisfactory grunting of an animal enjoying all of our food! I felt very brave and got out of the tent to inspect the situation. I discovered a little bandit raccoon munching  on food from our cooler. In retrospect this was probably stupid of me, but I jumped around, shone my headlamp in his face, and made some silly noises. He looked at me with amusement, while stealthily reaching into the cooler to grab one last tomato, before running off! He had certainly eaten enough so he didn't really put up a fight. In the morning we inspected the damage. He ate pretty much all of our food, including a ton of leftovers that I was really looking forward to. He got into our frozen berries and left little adorable red footprints all over the place. I guess he was caught red-handed! (sorry, I had to). 

The next morning, Samir and I went on a beautiful bike ride to the National Seashore and saw a coyote along the way! He really wanted nothing to do with us and ran across the bike path in front of us, but it was exciting to see him! After the bike ride, we packed up our stuff and headed into Provincetown. I stopped at the Police Department to get a Street Performer Permit. When I told them what I planned on doing they didn't have any qualms with it but wanted to make sure I communicated with the other street performers as to not start any turf wars. 

While driving down Commercial Street I found a perfect little corner to set up my easel. I jumped out of the car and asked the manager of the Mayflower Restaurant if it would be ok to set up and she quickly agreed! I did sense from some of the other store owners that not everyone was happy to have me there. I had to explain that the paintings I am displaying are not actually for sale (they're commissioned artwork!). Also, I am not soliciting as I paint, which is the whole beauty of it. If people are interested in what I am doing they can come up to me and ask for a business card or some more information. As long as I am not doing anything illegal, I will continue to promote my art this way! Our country's first amendment is a wonderful thing :)

My live painting setup on Commercial Street in Provincetown.

Painting in Provincetown was a HUGE success! Even though I painted on a Thursday during the off season, I still had tons of people stop and ask me questions and take my cards. The response was overwhelmingly positive. I had been told for awhile that Provincetown would be a great place for my art because everyone loves their dogs AND art! It was a fabulous place to market myself, and I know I'll be back. I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned from painting in Massachusetts versus painting in California is that people have a genuine love for local art, and while I plan on painting all over the world someday, it is best to focus my efforts in New England while I can. 

The next day we packed up our campsite in Provincetown and drove down to Brewster to set up our next campsite. Along the way we decided to stop at the Animal Rescue League Brewster Shelter to visit my next painting subject, Fern, the Portuguese Podengo. The Animal Rescue League of Boston came up with the wonderful idea to have me work on a portrait of a dog that had been in a shelter for awhile while at the event. The idea being, whoever ends up adopting the dog will get the portrait. This is a wonderful way to raise awareness about the shelter, the dog, and the importance of rescuing animals!

Fern is a beautiful dog with a wonderful heart and I just know she will make a wonderful addition to someone's family! She is a little shy and has a tendency to run, so she will need a home with a large fenced in back yard (she seems to LOVE being outdoors). I would adopt her myself, but I really think she would benefit from being in a home with other dogs that can guide her to living a more relaxed and enjoyable dog life :) To find out more information about Fern, please visit her PetFinder bio and take a trip to Brewster to meet her if you can!

Professional photos of Fern (I used the top right for the painting).

 The only good photo I was able to get of Fern while visiting her at the shelter! 

The only good photo I was able to get of Fern while visiting her at the shelter! 

After meeting Fern, we set up our campsite at Nickelson State Park and I worked on a portrait of "Frankie" for a little while! I made friends with all the kids at the campsite that were very interested in what I was doing :)

 Painting "Frankie" at Nickelson State Park Campground in Brewster, MA.

Painting "Frankie" at Nickelson State Park Campground in Brewster, MA.

The next morning I headed over to "Paws in the Park" to set up my easel for the event! They gave me a cute little spot next to a tree, which was perfect for hanging my banner and frames for my paintings. They put Fern in her cage right next to me, even though she was walking around for quite a bit of the event with a red "adopt me" bandana. The event was super fun, with so many dogs and their owners and lots of cool activities. There was a place to have your dog make paintings, a caricature artist, a kissing booth, and more! I donated a 6x6 painting for the raffle, and told everyone that came up to watch me paint, that Fern was up for adoption and the painting would go to her lucky owner.

Here I am with Fern at the Animal Rescue League's "Paws in the Park" event in Brewster, MA 

I hope to explore this type of charity work more, and I have been visualizing some sort of organization around this particular idea. I know plenty of pet portrait artists looking for exposure and actual work, and it would be really cool to give people the opportunity to donate money towards having a artist create a piece of art representing a particular animal in a shelter. This would be a fabulous way to promote the arts while raising awareness of rescuing animals!

This painting belongs to the lucky future owners of Fern!!

UPDATE!

Fern (now Bebe) was adopted soon after I made the portrait of her! She was adopted by another artist who apparently loves the portrait. Bebe is loving life these days as she now has a border collie and sheep for siblings in Orleans Massachusetts. Yay for Bebe!!!



Hello all!  I updated my website and facebook with the latest photos of paintings I've been doing.  The photo competition is in full swing and it's going very well-- keep it up! Here is a picture of "Peter."  He is my dog nephew.  I painted him for my sister for her birthday this past weekend. Peter was actually the first dog I ever painted and the reason behind my idea to start this business! The new style is "closeups." What do you think?

 

I just finished two paintings of golden retrievers! They were a surprise birthday gift for a customer's mother. The paintings ended up turning out great but i must say, I probably have the hardest time capturing their coloring out of all the other breeds!  Hopefully sometime down the road I will be a master retriever painter.  Until that time check out Martha and George: