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: 

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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!

 

In 2012, about one year after I started my pet portrait business, I came up with the idea of using my French Easel to do "live-painting" in public places as a way to promote my art. I contacted the owners of Durty Harry's dog boutique/dog-wash in Brookline to see if they would like to host my very first "live-painting" event, and that was the beginning of an incredible business relationship/friendship!  Along with hosting many Pawblo events, they have also commissioned me to do some sign-painting, which was my foray into freelance art. 

If you've been to either Durty Harry's locations, you may recognize some of my art hanging on the walls. Harry, (the business's namesake), being one of my models. 

Michelle and Alley (co-owners) do an incredible job of learning their four-legged clients' names and personalities, and have built a fabulous supportive community around their Brookline and Charlestown locations over the past 6 years. They're very hip to the dog community and definitely have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to addressing a serious need within the industry. 

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I am very excited to share with you all an incredible new app, Slobbr, that is being developed for all of us dog lovers! My good friend from Durty Harry's, Michelle Fournier, has been developing this idea for over 2 years and now it is SO close to fruition!

The app is called, "Slobbr" (LOVE the name), and it will be an iOS app to help you find local places that allow you to "Live Life with Your Dog!" Perhaps you're traveling with your dog and you want to find an awesome dog-park, or a restaurant that has a "Yappy Hour." Similar to Yelp, this app is designed to grow with user interaction, and will only continue getting better with use. Michelle and her team are looking to Kickstarter to put things in motion, and they're offering some pretty awesome incentives for helping out. I would really appreciate if you checked it out and at the very least shared it with your friends.... The clock is ticking!

While planning my West Coast Tour to promote my business two summers ago, I would have LOVED to have this app. I was on the constant lookout for animal friendly businesses, and different dog-parks to check out. I know that when the app is finally released, I'll be contributing to it all the time and adding my own reviews! 

Check out this AMAZING promo video.... I can't watch it enough-- so cute!


Durty Harry's has hosted me innumerable times for events, and I am wholly indebted to their support of my art and business as I have grown from a novice artist into the true professional that I am today. In those years, I have heard Michelle's passion and zeal to create a platform to help you "Live Life With Your Dog." Now that I have started to gain first-hand experience of having a dog around through my dog-sitting ventures with Rover.com, I know how valuable this is! 


Thank you for taking the time to read this... PLEASE SUPPORT THIS CAMPAIGN. SHARING IS JUST AS HELPFUL AS DONATING! 

Thank you xoxoxoxo

<3 Pawblo


Source: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/slobb...

These past couple of months I have been running nearly every day to train for a 7-mile road race that takes place this weekend in beautiful Cape Cod Massachusetts. This race is called, The Falmouth Road Race, and it is a pretty prestigious race in the running world, attracting over 11,000 participants and elite runners from all over the world!  

When the Animal Rescue League sent out an application to run in their name, I jumped on the opportunity! I ran the 2011 Boston Marathon while raising money for the Ronald McDonald House of Boston and it was overwhelmingly the most positive experience I have ever had. 

If it isn't already obvious, I am a HUGE animal lover! Working as a professional pet portrait artist for the past three and a half years and engaging with other passionate animal lovers has really opened my eyes to the importance of rescuing our pets, and providing resources for injured or endangered wildlife. 

Millions of animals are dropped off at animal shelters each year, and a large percentage of those animals are euthanized due to lack of funding and space. Organizations like ARL are committed to saving as many of these animals as they can by caring for them until they can be placed in loving homes. ARL would not exist if it weren't for their passionate volunteers, and generous donations from people like you!

I set out on this fundraising campaign aiming to raise $1,800. I am SO CLOSE! I have nearly 8,000 followers on Instagram and 2,500 "likes" on Facebook. If everyone donated just one dollar it would amount to a lot of good! Of course, it is unrealistic to expect that many people to help out. I generally don't like soliciting, which is why I waited until the last possible moment to do so. The race is this Sunday, do you think you can help me reach my goal??

Your tax-deductible gift to the Animal Rescue League of Boston will ensure that animals in distress receive the care they need, and a chance to be adopted into a caring home.  

I will send you a 2015 Pawblo Picasso Desk Calendar of your choice (cats or dogs) for any donations over $50

ALSO, consider adopting your next pet from ARL! "Like" them on Facebook and check out their Instagram account to get regular updates on the cuties that are available for adoption. We couldn't do it without all of your support, and on behalf of the ARL team and all of our furry (and scaly and feathery) friends that can't speak.... THANK YOU!

CLICK HERE TO VISIT MY FUNDRAISING PAGE

xoxoxo (huge wet dog kisses and sandpaper kitty licks)

Love, Pawblo Picasso

 

 

 

 Looking pretty good at the halfway point... there's a reason I'm not showing you the finish line photos :)

Looking pretty good at the halfway point... there's a reason I'm not showing you the finish line photos :)

 photo credit: www.arlboston.org

photo credit: www.arlboston.org

 2015 Pawblo Picasso Cat Calendar (FREE with your donation of $50 or more!)

2015 Pawblo Picasso Cat Calendar (FREE with your donation of $50 or more!)

 2015 Pawblo Picasso calendars! Choose one with your donation of $50 or more!

2015 Pawblo Picasso calendars! Choose one with your donation of $50 or more!

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!&nbsp;

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!!!



After we left Los Angeles, we drove inland to go camp in the Sierra Nevada mountain range (Inyo National Forest and Yosemite National Park). We were a little upset that we didn't get to see the California coast, but we'll just have to come back! I love camping, and the mountains/deserts/lakes were stunning. I couldn't believe the variety in landscape that we saw in such a short amount of time. I was reading some brochures about Yosemite, and was struck by a quote:

"When a visitor asked a Yosemite ranger what he would do if he had only a day to visit the park, the ranger answered, 'I'd weep.'" 

It almost made me weep reading this quote because we did only have one day within the park! We must return one day!

I set up my easel in Yosemite National Park for a very short amount of time. People walking by seemed interested, but their priority was to take in the nature, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a means of promotion. Someone asked me why I was painting there, and were wondering if the landscape inspired me in any way. I responded by saying that my main purpose was to question the idea of a work space. I have to finish these paintings one way or another, but why do I always have to be cramped up in my studio? It is much more pleasant painting outside in our nation's "playground"! 

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The view from our campsite at Convict Lake in Inyo National Forest (our deer friend!)

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I set up and worked on a painting for a little bit in Yosemite National Park! I venture to say that this is the first house cat painted within the park :)

 OFF TO SAN FRANCISCO!

After we drove through Yosemite, we stayed with my family in San Jose that night and headed into San Francisco the next day. We both LOVED San Francisco. I guess I'm a stereotypical San Francisco tourist because I didn't bring a jacket, and it was cold! One woman described San Francisco as comaprable to being on a boat in the middle of the ocean because it's almost completely surrounded by water. The first day in San Francisco, I set up my easel at Dolores Park. It was suggested to me because there are generally a lot of people hanging out there. It wasn't necessarily my demographic, but we enjoyed the time to relax in the park. I found out later that there's another part of Dolores Park where people bring their dogs (oops!). 

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We stayed with a friend in Oakland, which as we learned is quickly becoming a haven for young people escaping the high rents in downtown San Francisco. Our friend is training to be an herboligist, which I find incredibly interesting! She and her classmates often go on "field trips" into California's national parks to forage for herbs, and there are what seems like hundreds of bottles of tinctures and herbs around her apartment. When she described her classes it reminded me of Harry Potter's potions and herbology classes at Hogwarts. So cool! She also has an adorable pit bull named, Seqouia, who was the biggest sweetheart.

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On my second day in San Francisco, I set up my easel for a few hours in the front window of an awesome pet boutique in Pacific Heights called, "George." This store was incredibly cute! I don't even own a pet but I wanted to buy everything in the store! They also make their own dog beds (check out their website to see). They had a stage in their front window... it was almost as if it was made for me! I handed out a bunch of cards and talked to some very interested potential customers. 

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A passerby's view of me painting in the front window.

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My "stage" within George's storefront

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Part of Geroge's adorable display!

Samir and I both really loved San Francisco and we know we'll be back! 

If you've ever read my bio you will know that I am pursuing a career in art conservation. If you don't know what that is, maybe you've heard about art restoration (definitely not the same thing, but slightly similar). Art conservation is a fascinating career that requires an in-depth knowledge about the science of materials and the methodology for preserving cultural heritage. 

Very few people know about this field, but it is much more diverse than you probably can imagine. It requires in depth knowledge of chemistry, art history, and studio art. In my training so far I have worked on many artifacts. I have treated a great array of archaeological objects (ancient coins, marble sculptures, ancient ceramic pots, Etruscan coffins, and even a child's sandal from ancient Egypt). I have worked on newer objects too, such as a vase that came from John Adam's home, and even contemporary outdoor sculptures. I have worked within historic homes, and cleaned large murals within historic buildings. It is an incredibly fascinating field and I am so grateful to have found my way into it. 

(Here I am working with other conservators from the National Park Service on a sculpture of William Prescott in front of the Bunker Hill Monument)

Pawblo Picasso has been a wonderful venture thus far. In about 2.5 years I have painted over 350 paintings (more than most people can do in a lifetime!). I am so fortunate to have such an amazing career. I love to paint and I especially love to make portraits of your beloved animals.

What you may not realize is how much work it is to actually run a business like this. Although my boyfriend helps me out a lot, this is a one-woman business. I am not sitting in a studio painting all day long every day. I have to commit a lot of my time to answering emails, running my social media marketing campaigns, accounting, filing tax returns, ordering supplies, prepping my canvases, shipping and delivering my paintings, managing my merchandise, running my website, going to art shows, and running my "live painting" events (I hardly have a social life at this point). Sometimes I literally bring my easel and paints with me on vacations and work while I'm there. I plan on continuing with my art, but unfortunately I cannot commit the same amount of time towards this business if I am serious about pursuing art conservation. 

Recently, I have started to work with an art conservator on some very interesting projects. I plan on continuing my work with him through the fall, which means I definitely will not be able to commit as much time to Pawblo Picasso. There are also a lot of other opportunities that I want to explore with this business, such as the possiblity of publishing a book, and working on original art. I currently have a 4-month wait for my paintings, and that wait will continue to grow exponentially because I will be taking less orders per month from here on out, which brings me to my final piece of information....

If you look on my Indiegogo campaign you will see that I have listed 15 deposits for commissions (this will reserve your spot in my queue at 10% off of my current prices). I have also listed 10 6x6 custom paintings at a very low price of $90. I can guarantee these paintings in time for the holidays! If you’ve been thinking about ordering a painting from me, the time is now! You don’t have to know what photograph you’re going to use, what size painting you want (unless you get the 6x6), or even what animal(s) you want painted (you can decide on that later). This is only to reserve your spot! Once these commissions are all claimed, I will be able to give you a better idea of when your painting will be ready. I am in serious need of a break, so after these orders through Indiegogo, I will be taking a hiatus from taking new commissions until further notice.

If you haven't visited my campaign yet, I encourage you to do so (http://igg.me/at/sprucepawblo). There you will find a list of "perks" for your contributions (including the limited remaining commissions I am offering). My boyfriend and I are planning a lengthy road trip across the United States, and we need to raise some money to do so before we leave in the beginning of July. Aside from the commissions there are also some awesome other perks, so be sure to check them out and pass along the page! 


<3 Pawblo

Posted
AuthorMelissa King
CategoriesPAWBLO PICASSO

This is not as easy as you may think! I figured that since I've explained this to so many people it may make sense to just share a list of pointers that I think will help to get a good photo and to explain better what I'm looking for in a photo. Smartphones these days are taking wonderful photos and they work perfectly fine for me. 

1. Lighting 

 Lighting is especially important in your photos. If it's too dark you may be forced to use a flash and then the animal may have "red-eye" or a glare in their eyes. It is VERY hard for me to work from these types of photos. If the light is too bright then some of details may be lost and the shadows may be too extreme. The best solution is to find something in between. I usually recommend people take photos outdoors. The best type of light is when it is "diffused." You do not want direct sunlight so overcast days work the best. If there's an area (say, on a porch, or in a sunny room during the middle of the day) where there is plenty of light but the sun isn't shining directly into the room, this could work. So long as you don't have to use a flash! If you do end up taking the photo indoors, make sure the light is BEHIND YOU when you take the photo. If you try to take a photo of something with the light behind the animal, the animal will end up being very dark in the photo.


2. Metering an iPhone (lighting continued)

You may already know this but you may be about to learn a wonderful trick! This may work for other smartphones too but I'm not sure. When you're about to take a photo and you can see the image  on your screen, you can actually tap anywhere on your screen to "meter" the camera. "Metering" is a term all photographers know, which means that the camera is actually measuring the amount of light that is coming in so it can adjust its shutter speed and aperture to make sure it takes in just the right amount of light for the photograph. When you're taking a picture of your pet, you should "meter" the camera by touching the screen on the middle to darkest color ON your pet. Try playing around with this and metering the camera on different parts of the screen to get an idea of how the camera meters. Any time you're taking a photo on your phone (not necessarily of your pet), tap on the middle to darkest color on the screen. Since you'er taking a photo of your pet in this instance and the lighting is only important on them, tap on them until you find the best amount of light to take the photo.

 

3. Getting the Pet to look at the Camera

This is definitely one of the trickiest parts of this process and also wholly dependent on your pet. I am still learning more about how to do this (I am most definitely not a professional pet photographer). Things that I have found to work is to maybe hold a treat or a toy near the camera to grab their attention. I have also read the suggestion of putting the animal on top of a table so that they cannot really go anywhere (if you're dealing with a cat this may not work). Try having someone stand behind you to get his or her attention... but this may also just make the animal want to run towards that person. I have also seen photos where an extra person gets on the floor with the animal while you try to take the photo. If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them! Of course there is always the option of hiring a professional photographer to take your photos. I am more than happy to work from these photos!

 (treats are clearly more important to these dogs than looking into my camera).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The type of photos I am looking for

This is hard to explain precisely, but I do recommend that you take a look through my galleries so that you get an idea about my style. I usually will only include an animal in a painting (sometimes I will put in a favorite toy). If the animal is leaning on a pillow, I will not include that pillow and it may look weird with their head just floating in the middle of the painting. This being said, really try to get a photo of the animal by themselves-- no props!

Depending on the size of the canvas and the size of your dog I may or may not be including more than his or her heads. 8x10 and smaller are usually just the faces unless it's a really small dog or you have specified that you would like the whole body. 

The eyes are especially important. That's how I capture your pet's spirit and personality! I really like to see both eyes and it is absolutely essential that there is no glare in the eyes from a flash (see above section on lighting). 

This applies to people who are pretty experienced in photography. I really need to see all of the details in the whole body (no blurriness). When you're messing with depth of field please consider this and use a smaller aperture if you can. 

My favorite photos are of dogs sitting and looking directly at you. Any angles work but my favorite photos tend to be the ones where you are looking more directly at the dog as opposed to aiming down on the pet so that I can make the painting look like the animal is standing on the bottom of the canvas.

 

5. Taking photos with multiple animals

If you think taking a photo of one animal is hard try doing it with two or three or four! There isn't too much I can advise you to do that you wouldn't already know. You know your animals better than me! However, if you can't get a good photo of them together, try taking multiple photos of them in the same position and if some of the photos have at least one of them looking at the camera I can usually peice them together. It's just really important to have photos of them together to see their relative size. I may even be able to take the head from another good photo you have and place it onto a body of a photo that you had with the animals together. 

To put animals together that never actually lived at the same time it can get a little tricky. I may have to go off of your advice to get an idea of their relative sizes. The most important thing is that the photos will all have to have been taken at a very similar angle so that it will look like the animals are all sitting on the same surface. 

This was a tricky painting... These dogs were not all alive at the same time, but now they all get to hang out for the first time in this painting! How cool!

Posted
AuthorMelissa King