A Pet Portrait from Start to Finish

I thought I’d demystify how to create a custom pet portrait from beginning to end. My client asked me for a portrait of a recently passed away family dog named Dudley. Dudley was a beloved family pet and lived a long good life and they wanted a way to commemorate his life with a keepsake. How lovely!


First off, I’ve been painting for over 15 years and I did study art (and interior design) in school but it’s really just about practice and making mistakes and doing it over and over again until you come up with a look you like. When I studied in college painting was all about photo realism and how to make your painting look like the photo. BORING! Yes, I learned “techniques” in school and they are very helpful in the beginning but in recent years I’ve more been interested in un-learning what I learned and taking my metaphorical bra off and letting it all hang out! I say this because the photos I include in this post aren’t from any traditional technique from steps 1-10. Sometimes I started at 1 and jumped to 5 and came back to 2 and had FUN! My goal was to make a colorful pet portrait that looked like Dudley but that had personality and pizazz! Let me show you what I mean…

So as you can see above, I started with a simple line drawing using a thin paint brush. Then I added some fun under-paint colors. Why pink? I get that question a lot. I just love pink and I love how it vibrates with other colors when you lay colors on top of pink and have little hints popping through. Pink and green are also complimentary colors so I knew it would impact the fun wreath well. I then started painting the wreath. I didn’t do a fun under-paint color here… Why you may ask? No reason. I definitely could have done something under there and it would have made the leaves even more interesting but I decided to go a little more “traditional” on the leaves by starting dark green and building my way up to light green. I also got into painting the eyes and nose at this point and I kept these pretty traditional as well because I wanted to capture Dudley’s soul and expression here.

I touched base with the client and got some feedback on what background color she would want for the custom dog portrait. The client mentioned she liked gray and lavender and that Dudley’s iconic red collar was a must. I added in the collar and did some fun pastel highlights. I must tell you that when I discovered adding pastels to my paintings a couple years ago it was a GAME CHANGER. It just looks so fun and some of those colors and textures you just can’t replicate with paint so it really gave my paintings that colorful, whimsical edge that makes them look at little more eclectic, fun and spontaneous. I then went to painting the background color in. I decided on a grayish/lavender color (as per the client’s request) and I left hints of pink popping through (hard to see the pinks popping through on the photo but I promise they’re there). Then I sealed it, signed it and mailed it off the client.

I’m really happy with this piece because I think it looks like the colorful pet portrait I was going for while retaining some of the realistic quality of capturing Dudley’s personality.

If you are interested in a colorful and eclectic pet portrait of your dog, cat or rat ;) feel free to reach out to me or visit my Pets page.


Art Muse #3: Andreina BATES

As an artist obviously inspiration is very important and while I receive inspiration from trips I take and my environment and animals and even my dog I also gather a lot of inspiration from other artists that I admire!  I've been a long time fan of Andreina Bates and over the last couple years we've exchanged messages of encouragement.  Andreina has a very distinct style and I love her paintings.  I like how her paintings have a very free and expressive look while still being recognizable for whatever subject matter she is painting.  In my painting I'm always striving to be more free and loose and Andreina has nailed it.  If you are interested in checking out her work here is her website: https://www.andreinabates.com/ or find her on social media.  I'm a fan!

8 Paintings for Under $120

After working with Adore Your Walls for a print sale I did in late April I realized that people really want to support original art but sometimes budget is a consideration.  Why not buy a fun, vibrant piece of art from an artist rather than getting a mass-produced piece from TJ Maxx or Target?  This made me think that I wanted to try creating some smaller mini-pieces that would all be priced $120 and under (including shipping within the USA).  Here are the pieces I made and I hope you like them!  All these area available on my SHOP Animals page :)

10 reasons to visit Austin ASAP!

Hey ya'll... I can say that because I just visited Austin, Texas! Can you believe I had never, ever set foot in Texas before? The city was full of hip bars and restaurants and culture. It seemed like everywhere I looked there was another chic coffee shop, tap room or juice bar. Everything had a very hipster vibe and a lot of the city seemed to have an artsy feel. I was only there for two nights so I didn't have time to do everything but here's some musts...

1. Visit now (April) because the weather was great! Sunny days and a nice breeze but not too hot. We hear that once June hits it will be a nightmare so go now!

2. Hip restaurants! A couple we tried were The Launderette near Lady Bird Lake and Sawyer and Co. Both had a cool, hip retro feel and the food was good. We also went to Shady Grove which had more of a relaxed country feel but had a lovely big patio and the bathroom was a converted Airstream!

3. Texas Barbecue.  When in Texas... we heard that Franklins was super popular but the wait is about an hour and a half so we opted for Terry Blacks (locally recommended) which by the way is also a top rated BBQ place and we walked right in. This place was really cool inside and the BBQ was really good. I'd never had Texas BBQ so I wasn't sure what to expect. We tried the sausage and brisket along with many sides. Our eyes were definitely bigger than our tummies! 

4. Bars and Tap rooms! Boy do they like to drink in Texas. Go big or go home, right? So many cool bars on 6th and 7th street downtown plus all over the city in little niche neighborhoods. Also, I noticed a lot of games at all the bars which was fun. HUGE adult size connect four, beer pong and more. Also, pretty much every bar we went to had a stage so a lot of cool live music. My favorite was Austin, Eastciders because I don't like beer and LOVE cider so this was perfect for me!

5. Improv! We only got to hit up 2 improv theaters when there but a definite must if you want to laugh. First we went to Coldtowne and this was a small venue but friendly folks and laughs to be had. The second night we went to the Fallout Theater and this show was excellent! Both have bars so you can enjoy a drink while watching and laughing.

6. Nate's in Buda.  This is further South from the actual Austin city limits but we found a really nice place called Nate's.  Very cool hip bar with a sprawling patio with plush seating where you can sit in the breeze and let your city-troubles wash away. 

7. Crawfish! Truth be told I didn't actually order any Crawfish but a nice local couldn't finish his and offered his leftovers to me.  Usually I don't go around eating stranger's leftovers but when in Texas try Crawfish! The nice local taught me how to open the thing up and it was pretty tasty... only thing missing in my opinion was some melted butter. Yum, yum!

8. Bikes and scooters. All over the city you would see abandoned electric razor-type scooters and you'd see people zooming around on them all over. They seemed like they could get around really easily and I guess you can leave them and they'll get picked up? We are still wondering about that part...

9. Downtown, Austin. Fun to walk around and see all the offerings the city has to offer.

10. The people! I didn't come in contact with one person who was mean, negative or nasty albeit I'm sure they exist but everyone was super friendly and eager to give us their recommendations! 

Thanks, Austin... we will see you next time!