Sarah and her aunt commissioned me to make this pet portrait of Ruby as a gift for Sarah’s parents. Sara is my husband’s best friend, she was the “best man” in our wedding, and I absolutely adore her. I never got to meet Ruby but I’ve heard lots of stories about her. Though it’s been years since she passed, she is still missed by those that knew her. I put a lot of care into each painting I make, but knowing the family personally, knowing firsthand how much Ruby was loved, really reinforces my mission of creating these paintings with a sensitivity to the bond between people and their animal friends. You can see the love that Ruby gave back to her family in her happy smiling face. I hope the painting brings them all much joy. Please take a look at my Pet portraits gallery to see more examples of my work.
A Painting More True to Life than a Photograph
This painting evokes Ruby’s puppy-like zeal the way only an original painting can. Since it’s painstakingly created layer by layer, I’m able to pay careful attention to all the details that make Ruby “Ruby”. Sometimes these details even get missed by the camera. The main image I used for the portrait showed Ruby’s eyes to be dark brown. But in the other images, and in everyone’s memory, her eyes had a golden glow, which I worked to capture. Though I can sometimes get all of the information I need with just one image, working with several and getting lots of feedback is important to my process.
I had the added honor of witnessing the happy couple unwrap Ruby’s portrait. People often write that seeing their portrait for the first time brought tears to their eyes, but seeing them both burst into happy tears was a special moment for me. See them below in a photo taken by Sarah, with the framed portrait of Ruby.
From the Family
You are a very talented artist and you captured the heart and spirit of our wonderful four-legged sweetheart, Ruby. We really love the painting. Thanks again, very much.
Doug, Gloria & Sarah
Clark worked hard to make this pair of portraits happen! They were an anniversary gift, and getting all the old photos of Jackson scanned and mailed in secret took time and cunning. Clark was up to the task though, and he supplied me with lots of great images. Although we talked at first of painting Jackson as an adult, he sent me a few pictures from his puppy stage as well. I couldn’t resist mocking up a puppy portrait—the images were too adorable! Clark was tempted too, and instead of one portrait, he commissioned two paintings, each from a different stage in Jackson’s life.
Framing the Portraits
“Jackson as a Puppy” oil on copper, 6″ x 6″
I sent Clark a selection of frames to choose from and he picked a 1 1/2″ wide natural wooden frame. The color brings out the warmth of Jackson’s Golden Retriever silky coat, and the pair of portraits look great together. Take a look at my Pet Portraits Gallery to see more examples of my work, and visit the Commissions page to learn how to commission your own pet portrait oil paintings.
Portrait of Jackson
oil on copper
6″ x 6″
My latest pet portrait painting is of a hound dog named Owsley. Mason contacted me a month before Julianne’s birthday and he wanted to surprise her with Owsley’s portrait. It was too late to finish it in time, so we put it in the schedule for the following year. Mason was able to look through photos with Julianne and get a good idea of what kind of a portrait she would like. And because it was scheduled so far out, it was still a bit of a surprise when he gave her the painting. We did a formal portrait for Owsley in the Dutch tradition, similar to my Into the Country Monthly Miniature series.
Portrait of Owsley, oil on copper, 3″ x 3″
Antique Picture Frame
I gave Mason the option of using either a newly manufactured frame or using an antique hand finished one. He choose to go with one of the antique solid wood circular frames from the 1920’s. Thanks to my sister in Cincinnati, I have a bit over a dozen of these beautiful unfinished frames that came from the Castner Picture Frame Company. They were primed, and then stored for almost a hundred years when the frame manufacture went out of business. Each one is carefully matched with a portrait and then it receives its long awaited finishing coats of paint. Finding miniature solid wood frames with such a classic design is almost impossible today. And though I do still have a dozen of these frames left, I’m always on the look out for more. It’s like finding a little treasure to surround the portrait of someone you treasure.
Contact me to see what antique frames are available for your custom portrait and learn about the commission process on the Commissions page.
When I first started painting pet portraits, I never imagined I would paint so many in memoriam. It’s a hard thing to explain why a painting should feel more significant than, say, the photo it’s based on, but I think it’s the care put into making it. I love that all the smiling dogs and bright eyed cats that I’ve painted will be just as happy and alert in their portraits for hundreds of years to come. They will not only bring a moment of joy to their much loved companion, but also to countless generations of viewers after all of us are gone. It’s an honor to make these paintings.
Hicks was one such special dog. I painted his portrait for Megan, whose husband was very close to Hicks. Our time with our pets is brief, but the love we experience is profound. We dread the moment of loss almost from the first, and it is always too soon. I know how it feels to lose a dog so well loved, and I think that is why I never get tired of painting memorial pet portraits.
I have a little portrait of Buster, my favorite companion who I lost six years go, hanging where I can see him every day. His portrait honors our connection and keeps his memory warm in my heart. It also gives me occasion to talk about him more, and tell stories of special memories. Painting it and having it helped me turn my grief at his passing into a celebration of our friendship. If you are considering a similar gift for yourself or a loved one, let me personally encourage you. If you have any questions about it, you may read my Commissions page or reach out to me directly.
Oh my gosh. It’s amazing!! I have tears in my eyes writing this. My husband loved it. It is so beautiful. I can’t thank you enough.
Portrait of Wilson
oil on aluminum
11″ x 14″
I was asked to make a painting of Wilson as a surprise Christmas gift and I loved the assortment of high quality images that I was given to choose from.
Photography is a skill to be mastered just like any other, and his owners have certainly been working hard to perfect their craft. Wilson is a willing muse and he is quick to give the camera his winning smile when asked. He is clearly a very happy and well loved pooch and I enjoyed the opportunity to capture him in oils from images taken when he was out hiking, one of his favorite things to do.
Check out his Instagram account where you can see an assortment of adorable photographs while you follow him on all sorts of adventures.
“I wanted to…let you know that the painting was the perfect gift. Olivia absolutely loved it! I can’t thank you enough for the work you did on it. It goes without saying that you have some very happy customers (Wilson included!)”
Portrait of Maddie at the Beach, oil on copper, 4″ x 4″
My commission schedule is booked out almost a year in advance, but if there’s a special occasion you’d like a portrait for and it’s coming up soon, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
I like to leave a little wiggle room in my schedule to accommodate one or two unexpected commissions each year that need to happen right away. The timing for this painting worked perfectly, and I’m really happy I was able to make it as a special gift for a very special person.
This painting was presented to Michele as a tribute to ten years as a hardworking, knowledgeable and efficient registrar at the Seattle Art Museum. But for her colleges to commission such a gift to commemorate her time at SAM, it’s also a tribute to the genuine warmth and love that she has always been so quick to share. We coordinated with her daughter who she sent me several images, and this one immediately stood out to me as “the one,” both a portrait of her very loved granddaughter, and an image of a young girl, going confidently to the ocean on a glorious sunny day. I hope Michele’s new adventures are just as sunny, and I know she will go into them with confidence and brighten the lives of all she meets.
My thanks to everyone at SAM and to her daughter for the commission, and for your trust that I could make a gift worthy of Michele. And thank you, Michele, for all your help and support, both professional and personal over the past ten years. Enjoy and visit your old friends often!
From Michele’s daughter
“Wow, Rebecca. I don’t even know what to say… this is so beautiful. My mom is going to love it. We are so blessed that you’ve used your incredible talent to commit such a wonderful memory into an ever-lasting work of art. Thank you.”
“Amazingly talented, kind, sweet, wonderful. …I will always admire you when I look at the portrait…”
Oliver, oil on copper, 2.25″ x 2.25″
What could be a more perfect gift for someone you love, but a miniature painting of someone they love?
Many of my commissioned portraits are given as gifts. And while I enjoy creating each and every painting I make, those made for an unsuspecting recipient are made with an extra element of excitement and joy in the air. The charming Oliver was carefully captured in oils as a gift for his owner’s birthday. His owner’s sister, who commissioned the painting, was a big fan of Ollie, and I’m very grateful for the commission.
See the pet portrait miniature of Oliver’s first coat of paint in one of my On the Easel blog posts featuring works in progress. I work in a traditional lean to fat method that ensures my paintings will survive for hundreds of years and this first thin coat is essential to the process. To see more finished paintings, please take a look at my pet portraits gallery and my human portraits gallery. And if you’re interested in commissioning a portrait for of your own, take a look at my commissions page to learn my process and contact me to get started!
“I LOVE him!!!! Ollie looks perfect. Thank you Rebecca for all your patience and guidance. You are a talented artist with a true eye. And best of all I KNOW my sister will love it! It’s a given….”
And here’s what her sister posted in Instagram:
Lucy, oil on aluminum, 3″ x 4″
The portrait painting of the white Labradoodle, Lucy, has made it’s 2,000 mile journey in time for Christmas
I enjoy the searching process in a commission: finding out what my patron likes in my work, how they see themselves or their loved one, how I see them, and how I can portray that. The back-and-forth collaboration that finally materializes in a painting is such a rewarding experience, and I am so thankful for each person who gives me the opportunity to do such satisfying work.
I absolutely love it! Thank you so much. I can’t wait for my parents to see it!
Later she let me know that her parents loved it too. Thank you, Carrie!
Sasha, as Adult and Child
oil on rotating aluminum panels
6.75″ x 5.5″ x 3.5″ (framed)
A wedding and 75th birthday (the two events happened just a day apart!) were marked by the gift of these two paintings.
Bill delivered them into the hands of his new husband whose daughters are featured in these double-sided portraits: two beautiful sisters, painted in turn as cute little girls and then as lovely, happy adults. I was very impressed at how Bill was able to keep the commission secret from the whole family as he scoured every nook and cranny to find the perfect images. He found the ones from when they were kids hiding in a box in the garage.
A gallery is in the works of more interactive double-sided paintings for the website. I love the endless possibilities and have made many variations on this theme. Keep an eye out for it in the next few weeks. Until then, you’re welcome to take a look at my gallery of portrait commissions, which includes both traditional one-sided and multi-sided works.
My heartfelt congratulations to the newly-wedded couple and their family! It was a pleasure and an honor to paint your daughters.
Colby, as Adult and Child
oil on rotating aluminum panels
6.75″ x 5.5″ x 3.5″ (framed)