I started painting after enrolling in a basic Painting I course at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. I’ve often thought it would be great to have a hobby that would totally absorb me. Painting has always seemed like a wonderful pastime, but I was fairly certain that I had no talent. My project for the first semester was a large oil painting of my daughter at age five, holding Mary, her multi-colored Calico in her lap. I was pleasantly surprised at how my daughter and Mary seemed to jump right out of the painting; they both looked so colorful and clear. I was also pleased to discover that when I was painting the hours flew by. I had never enjoyed doing something so much, and I found that the results were so rewarding.
When one of my best friends lost Rusty, her beloved Golden Retriever, I wanted to do something for her so I decided to try to do a painting of Rusty. My friend was overwhelmed, and I was so pleased with the results that I asked my sister and other friends to send photos of their pets. It wasn’t long before people I didn’t know were asking me to do paintings of their pets. Much to my surprise, some of them insisted on paying me. This wonderful hobby has since grown into a small business.
I believe it’s most important to capture the pet’s spirit. It can always be seen in their faces; particularly in their eyes, which is where my painting process begins. By starting with the eyes, I can develop a connection to the pet. I only work on one painting at a time so I become completely focused on that one particular pet.
I like to use several photos, and at least one of them must clearly show the facial details. Actually, I think my best work is in doing the eyes and facial features. The most challenging part of the painting is the fur. For one thing, painting the fur on a Welsh Terrier is very different from doing a Golden Retriever.
Once the customer (who is involved throughout the process) and I are comfortable with the facial expression, the fur, and the coloring, my work begins – with the details. I might spend one week to 10 days on the minute details, alone. Once the painting is nearly complete, I make sure the customer loves it. I never release a painting until both the customer and I are completely satisfied.