The answer to “how did you start painting pet portraits?” is straightforward for me.
I love animals. For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion to make every animal my friend and to nurture and care for them.
Naturally, the 2nd oil painting that I ever completed was a self-portrait of me holding a ferret. Yup, a “cat-snake” and we were touching noses! During the painting process, I discovered 2 things. 1) I LOVE painting fur 2) I LOVE painting with bright colors
From 2008 -2022 I practiced veterinary medicine as a registered veterinary technician (think, Veterinary Nurse, the name will change soon enough).
During this time, I met so many amazing dogs, cats and other pets but even more so, I met their amazing pet parents (owners/hoomans/masters of the kibble). I met the puppies of these families when they brought them home and I held their hands as they said goodbye to them as old dogs. Every time, I wanted to offer them something. I wanted them to have something amazing that sparked joy and love when they remembered their pet. For a while, I would take ink paw prints and write poems/quotes and gift this to them, but it didn’t seem like enough and I felt like it didn’t spark joyful memories as I wanted. It was a reminder of their last day instead of a reminder of the amazing life they shared together.
While working as a vet tech, I was quietly painting at home. Painting monsters for my son and beginning to paint my own pets. One day, I decided I would paint a pet for a favorite client that had lost her dog, way too young, to bone cancer. It was a watercolor portrait. Very simple, and at this point, I am sure I would be embarrassed by it. During the time though, I wasn’t. I was proud to offer her something so special during such a sad time.
This is when I realized, I KNOW animals. I know their features and personalities and I can put that into their paintings. And with it, I can provide their families with a joyful memory, instead of a sad one of inked paw prints that were collected on the day they said goodbye.
Today, hundreds of commissioned pet portraits later, I still consider it an honor to paint someone’s beloved pet. If it is a memorial piece, I am twice as honored that they have trusted me with something so special.
If you are reading this, and you have commissioned a pet portrait painting from me, I want to say “thank you”. Thank you for allowing me to continue to help pets and their families through my art. It is a privilege and an honor.