Years ago, I created a pet portrait painting of a cat named Lucy as a gift from mother to daughter. And now, the daughter has commissioned a portrait for her mother and father of their beloved furry companion, Lily, as a Christmas gift.
I often think about how much I love making pet portraits because I get to experience the bond animals have with their human companions. When the portraits are gifts it’s especially exciting, because there’s another loved one thrown into the mix. I’m a more the merrier type! These two commissions in particular, were very special to me. I remember meeting Taylor and her mother when I had just recently become a mother myself. They were so close and loving. It made me feel extra privileged to have a child of my own and I strive to make such a loving bond with him.
Thank you! My parents loved the painting!!
From Drindy: I should have told you how profound it was to receive your piece for Xmas. I weeped when I opened this. It is her essence and reminds us so much of how much we still and will always love her. Thank you for your amazing talent – what a gift it is to us.
I’m in love with the subject for my latest pet portrait commission. Harrison is a flame point rag doll Siamese and those eyes!! Harrison is 10″ x 8″ and is made with oil on aluminum.
During my tiny thanksgiving gathering we talked about things we were grateful for. My clients that commission me to paint their beautiful furry friends came just after friends and family. Thank you. ❤️
I worked as a picture framer during my college years and have continued to frame my own work since then. I frame most of my clients commissioned works and for Harrisons portrait we choose this georgeous bronze colored carved frame. My client has synesthesia and she loved this frame in particular because the swirls looked like how Harrison’s meows sound. Sounds like a pretty incredible experience with the world.
Ahhhh!!! It’s BEAUTIFUL! I feel like you totally and perfectly captured his essence. It’s wonderful! I love how the background brings out his eyes and various fur colors and textures. His little nose is so cute!! And he looks so fluffy!
Thank you so much!!!
Traditional Techniques: Layer by Layer
I made a short video that shows how my paintings evolve, using the time tested technique of “lean to fat”. The first layer starts with big shapes and paint thinned with odorless mineral spirits (Gamsol). This is the lean layer. For the oil, I use Galkyd slow dry painting medium. As the detail increases with each layer, so does the oil content added to my paint mixture. By working in this way, the paint has ideal conditions to adhere to its substrate. It also ensures that the bottom layers of paint will dry more quickly than the top layers which prevents cracking in the future. I also find that this technique gives painting a luminocity and depth that is essential for capturing fluffy fur and pearlecent eyes.
If you’re interested in a pet portrait of your own, please visit my commission page to lean more.
My latest commission is a portrait of a Rocky Mountain horse named Chief. He has a beautiful dual colored mane and he is such a sweet horse. I’m in Seattle, but have family in Ohio and travel back to visit (don’t know when the next visit will be at this point though!). I got to meet my client who lives in Ohio in person last year and spend a lovely morning with her and a mutual friend taking reference photographs. Horses are tough to photograph and horse people KNOW their horses so you have to get it right! It’s quite the experience to soak in this amazing bond. I hope these two have many many years to enjoy each others remarkably warm company.
Date of Delivery
This painting was due to be completed for Bobbie’s birthday. I was dismayed that it was my very first and hopefully last commission that wasn’t finished on time. I have a clause in my contract in the “Date of Delivery” section that states, “This completion date shall be extended in the event of delays caused by events beyond the control of the Artist.”
My husband and I suffered nasty bout of illness in early March, followed by the challenging transition to working-and-schooling from home.
Being sick while caring for a 4-year-old was really difficult. My husband and I were both sick for the entire month of March, and we took turns resting while we did our best to keep Isaac fed and out of trouble. I wasn’t able to venture into the studio for the entire month and it threw a big wrench in the works for my paintings schedule.
Once we finally recovered, I got back to painting and I have never been so thankful for my health, the sunshine and wonderful clients! Bobbie was so kind and forgiving and I’m very grateful. Wishing you all a very healthy spring. ?
My work as a mountmaker at the Seattle Art Museum has brought me into contact with some pretty extraordinary people. Curator of Chinese artwork, Ping Foong, is one such person. I’m very grateful that she and her partner choose me to make a special portrait of their cat Lila that reflects her love of Chinese porcelains.
A pet portrait is a gift that will last a lifetime (and beyond!)
Pet portraits take some time to make. But they are worth the wait. The most important part of the process is the planning stage. I like to get the composition figured out right away and take the time to get it right. Carrie and I worked through several ideas until we found the perfect composition.
I put a lot of care into my portraits for two reasons. The biggest reason is that a true representation of the subject honors the connection my clients have to their pets.
I’m also doing it for myself. It’s important to me that my paintings last and using the proper materials and techniques is only part of the equation. Making a work of art that will be interesting to future generations means future generations will take care it long after we are all gone. Likewise, every time I exhibit my work, win an award, or have a painting published I’m adding to the provenance of all of my paintings. Which means they will have a historical context that will add to the future value of my work. Adding value to my work means it will be taken care of.
The Best Part of a Pet Portrait
All of that longevity is important, but the best part of a pet portrait is preserving a well loved smiling face. It’s incredibly meaningful for me to make the special connection humans have to our pets tangible. My glimpse into the bond shared between Carrie, Derek and Sophie was truly a gift and it was an honor to make Sophie’s portrait.
We received the painting and it’s absolutely beautiful! It’s perfect. Thank you so much! Derek can’t get over how closely you managed to capture Sophie, you’re just SO talented. I hope to work with you in the future!
After being on my site for 5 seconds, you know I love animals. Especially dogs. I’ve been fortunate to have known and painted several Golden Retriever’s portraits over the years and I don’t think I’ve ever known another kind of animal with a sweeter disposition.
I just finished another golden retriever portrait of Hazel who lived to 19. Painting Joey just after finishing that portrait felt like coming back to the beginning of a journey. Everything’s fresh, bright and this new love is so intense and powerful. I wish Joey a life just as long as Hazel’s, filled with a never ending supply of love for and from his family.
This golden retriever portrait is 4″ x 4″ and it’s the smallest size I’m making right now. I love the intimacy of the size but it’s not so small that I can’t fill the portrait with details (like the Seattle skyline in the background).
Joey’s portrait was commissioned by Lori as a holiday gift for her husband. Please go to my Commissions page to learn how to commission a portrait. Go to the Pet Portraits or Portrait Commissions page (paintings of people) to see more examples of my work.
It’s incredible in person, you are beyond talented! I can’t thank you enough..
I was commissioned to make two paintings for Jason. The first, a gift for his sister of her beloved dog Hazel. Hazel was a golden retriever that had given a lifetime of love. The other was of Turbo, his own dog. We have a lot of personality packed into a miniature 4″ composition.
I composed both of these painting with classical dutch portraits in mind. There were so many great photos for me to choose from of these two. I was especially inspired by the warmth in Hazel’s eyes and the intelligence in Turbo’s.
I was sad to hear that both Turbo and Hazel passed between the time when we designed the portraits and when they were completed. It really reinforces my mission of creating pet portraits though. And I love that their portraits will live on for hundreds of years to come.
I got them today! We are in love! Thank you so much, such talented work!!
To learn about how to commission your own pet portrait, please visit the Commission’s page.
This is my second painting of Penny. I made my first portrait of her titled, “Woman’s Best Friend”, for my series Monthly Miniature, Into the country a few years ago (pictured below). She’s was my mother in law’s best friend. Penny posed for me, as many of her barnyard friends had done before her. The first painting sold while on exhibit, but Margot’s partner, Tony, though she should have a portrait of Penny of her very own. He commissioned the portrait for her in secret.
Two Sides of Penny
It’s interesting to see the two painting together. She almost looks like a different dog because her coloring is a little different on her right and left size. This influenced the colors I choose for the background. I like using a contrasting green tone when painting animals with orange/brown fur. Even though Penny only had a little orange spot on her cheek and in her eyes the color combination gives a nice warmth and depth.
The other side of Penny’s face is almost entirely black and white with some soft hints of brown. For my first painting of Penny, I kept this background in the grey tones and wanted to reinforce her stoic profile pose. I also kept more texture in the background to help lead the viewers eye around to her textured curly fur on her chest. Though they both portray the same dog, you can see how these little details make such a big difference.
OMG. I’m in tears.. every freckle on her nose, her ruffly fur, her sweet eyes!! You, my darling Rebecca, are truly amazing!
Please go to my commissions page to learn more about my process, pricing and schedule. And contact me if you’re interested in having a custom portrait made of your very own.
Every year Seattle’s last surviving newspaper, The Stranger, does a feature issue all about pets. Art critic Jasmyne Keimig interviewed four different artists who immortalize animal friends and I was delighted to be among them. Read the full interview on the Strangers website.
Thank you to the folks at The Stranger that continue to produce such a well loved local paper and for the yearly focus on animals. And a big thank you to Jasmyne for putting so much into writing a lovely article. I’m honored to be included!
They used an image of my portrait of Shiloh, oil on aluminum, 18″ x 12.5″ for the article. Go to my Pet Portraits gallery to see more examples of my work and go to the commissions page to learn about having your very own painting made.
Animals hold a special place in our hearts. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who has everything, a portrait of their dearly loved animal is bound to be something they will cherish. I recently finished this portrait painting of an American Quarter Horse and shipped it off to Tennessee. It was commissioned as a Christmas gift for a much appreciated CEO from her work colleagues.
Layer by Layer
My paintings are created with a traditional fat over lean technique to ensure that they will last for hundreds of years. By using layers and glazing, the paintings have a rich depth that you don’t get with just one layer of paint. Adding more and more oil to each additional layer helps the paintings dry more evenly and they are also much less likely to crack (even after hundreds of years!). Paintings on metal made using this technique still survive in pristine condition from the 1500’s.