Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Bear!

Bear is 3 today. This good looking young Retriever is on the project board for today and I am going to be working on him this evening trying some close-crops and adding in more paint strokes. This will be his 2nd portrait. The image above is a working sketch of Bear's portrait in progress. We have a more relaxed shot this time. Below you can find his fun "Bear with Stick" portrait.

Bear's humans are professional wildlife photographers and so their photographs are always a pure joy to play with.

Friday, July 27, 2007

New Candle Project

Below are some pics of the candle project I did for a local soy candle company called Jimmy Belasco. I created 9 different box-sleeves with custom artwork of the owner's rescue pets. A portion of the proceeds are donated to animal charity groups by both Jimmy and his retailers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Help Australian Shepherd???

Help Australian Shepherd???
Originally uploaded by artpaw
This is our newly found stray "Luna" . Can anyone tell me what kind of dog she is ... she is petite, and looks like she has a lot of Australian shepherd in her or maybe she is a full Aussie and just still a puppy. We are posting signs and trying to find her humans ...no collar, no tag , no chip.
She is so stunning. Dan named her Luna after Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter.

Microchip your pets people!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

5 More Tips For Pet Portrait Artists

Last week I posted a top 5 tips list for pet portrait artists and quickly realized how incomplete it was and so I decided to ask a couple of my fellow artists to share their ideas.
In the order they were received here are 5 more great tips for pet portrait artists...

From Kathy Weller

#1 "
More information is better than not enough.
The last thing you want before starting to work is to realize that you are missing information - - be it the proper spelling of the pet's name, the name of the type of tree or flower that will be integrated into the portrait, the photo of your kitty subject's special collar that needs to appear around her neck. The more info you have up front the better, even if you don't think you will use all of it. Because down the road, you might have an opportunity to add something extra and unexpected into the portrait, and that seemingly minute, superfluous detail stored in your your client kitty file might just prove to be the icing on the proverbial pet portrait cake."

"Treat each customer like gold.
"Word-of-mouth and referrals are HUGE in this business. Besides the fact that you are so happy and thrilled that that this person is paying you for your hard work and unique talents, she will be sure to tell all of her pet-parent friends about her experience with you, be it positive or negative. Think about what great cocktail-party conversation starter her pet portrait experience would be!� Keep that in mind during the tough times.�"
Kathy Weller is a portrait artist and accomplished illustrator. Last year she worked on a sweet and lovely portrait of my girl Pixel.

From Linda O'Neill

#3 "Take great care in packing and shipping your artwork...it shows how much care and effort you put into your business."

#4 " Gladly offer to do some minor revisions once you present the final 
painting to a client. There might be some eye color, coat color,
background details that they would like changed...and it usually means
capturing that extra essence of their dog that means the world to them."
#5 "In addition to that...include something extra when you ship out a painting to a client. Even if it's just a greeting card, it makes them feel unique and special and that you took the trouble to do it. Going that extra mile is what's it's about."

Linda O'Neill is one of my first pet portrait pals and she is a gifted painter. A few years ago she beautifully memorialized my boy Atticus.

The artwork in the screen-shots above are copyrighted by the respective artists.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Glass Squid

I have been taking a mosaic class for the past few weeks and I am very close to finishing my first project. I am really excited about it and quite proud of my efforts. I am sure if I continue on with this media I may look back in horror at my craftsmanship on this first piece, but that is ok. You have to start somewhere. I need to finish the head on this guy and then grout the piece so I can start on my next squid.

You can see from the image above that there is a layer of text beneath the glass in the area that is the water. The text is wikipedia info about the octopus. I also have some of my own squid drawings beneath the surface. The words are meant to be a visual texture more than anything else. Working this way feels a bit like collage.

People have asked me if I am going to start doing people's dogs in mosaic. I do have plans for a few Scottie dogs for myself, but I do not think I want to do this on commission. This small 13 x 13 piece will probably end up having over 30 hours of work in it by the time I finish, and so it would be very tough to price work of this nature. I think I would also be frustrated by the limitations you feel when trying to achieve detail. Most clients want their pet portraits to really have a lot of detail and to look a lot like their pets, something hard to achieve in mosaic. Besides, it is fun to be doing something just for me.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dog Muralist

Originally uploaded by nina camplin
This week I met a very talented dog artist on Flickr. Her name is Nina Camplin and she works in Poole England. Check out her photo stream at Flickr. She has one set of photos that are just dog murals.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oh Those Puppy Eyes

Around here the eyes have it! I spent last Friday afternoon going over the fine art of painting eyes with my staff. Too often our glow eye originals do not even have a hint of pupil showing and so we often have to paint in all of the parts of the eyes. The tricky part is often getting that glassy quality.

Max is an adorable dog with a happy smile. He is one of those adult doggies that will always look like a puppy. This pic had so much going for it we could not let a little thing like glow eye get in the way of creating a fun and happy pet portrait.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Murphy The Doxie on Etsy Homepage!

Our artwork of Murphy the Doxie made the Etsy homepage this morning. Our 15 minutes of fame has faded already though as I just checked in and Etsy has refreshed the homepage content already. That is one thing I do adore about Etsy though, their back-end tech guys really have designed a great site that always has something new, and fresh happening wherever you look. Allision went in today and beefed up our offerings so check out our Etsy Shop when you have time. I am taking a tile Mosaic class and hope to be listing tile mosaic pieces within a few weeks. I also want to create a section for original drawings.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Working with clients / 5 Tips for the pet portrait artist

Over the past 9 years I have learned a lot about working with my clients and I offer up a few tips here for other artists. Every artist has to develop their own business model and their own strategy for working well with their patrons. I hope something here may help someone, or stir new ideas.

#1 Remember that the client is always right.
I learned this little jewel in retail and it still serves me well. Yes, you as an artist are the one with an art degree, and maybe you are the one with years of experience behind you. That may all be true and nice and dandy. The thing is, as soon as you agree to do portrait commissions you have hopped straight from the elitist world of "fine art" and you are now in the murky waters of "commercial art". I am not saying that the two art worlds do not overlap and intertwine. The thing to keep in mind is that as a portrait artist your own personal tastes and preferences may on occasion have to take a backseat to that of your clients. You are creating artwork that must fit their lifestyle, their interior design aesthetic, and sometimes their budget. With that said you still have the ability to guide your clients and work with them in making good design decisions. Some of my pet portrait clients have never worked directly with an artist before and so they are often quite open to my creative input. By also being open to their ideas I make the entire process more fun for them and allow their own creativity to come into play.

#2 Listen well
Communication is everything. I find that simple e-mails are great to get started on a project and yet once a portrait goes into design revisions I really need to have a personal phone call with my clients so I know that I am getting to the heart of what is not yet working. Too often I skim through reading e-mails and I can miss an important item that someone may have mentioned and I often can misinterpret what has been written in an e-mail.

#3 To proof or not to proof?
Most clients love a proof, or in the case of Art Paw they love seeing a set of proofs. If you choose to send a client a proof you must be ready to do some tweaking on request. That is too often the nature of proofing. I know of one artist on-line working in traditional media that provides a proof and the client can either choose to accept it or ask for a refund. If the artwork is rejected it goes up for auction and other dog lovers can bid on it. She then donates a portion of the proceeds to charity. I actually think this is a brilliant way to work, and if I were to ever start working in oils I may adopt this approach myself.

#4 Project Reports
This goes back to communication and this is an area I am always trying to improve on myself. If you have a busy studio and you are juggling well over a dozen clients a month you will find that sending out project reports once a week will keep folks in the loop and let them know that you have not forgotten about their commission. I have even seen some artists use their blogs for this and that seems to work well for them.

#5 Ask your clients to help you
OK the project has been delivered and they are thrilled ... now ask your clients to tell their pet loving pals about you. They probably will anyway, but I do make a point of asking folks to spread the word about Art Paw.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Pet Portraits

We will be posting a handful of new portraits to the web this week. I am working overtime to try and get working sketches to new clients and get older projects completed. Today I am posting Oscar & Huckleberry to the blog. These two look like best pals to me. I do not do very many cooler hued backgrounds and I do not know if it is the heat of summer or the warm orange coats on these guys, but blues seem to work well for me this time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"If it smells good, roll in it"!

One fun thing about being a full time pet artist is that your friends send you links, jokes, quotes, funny pics and so on about dogs. This morning my good pal Sheila sent me a great link to a very sweet short movie that is also a marketing promotion for a book.
Check out this link for "Do you Remember Love" and click the "watch movie" button on the right. My favorite words of wisdom from the movie:
"if it smells good, roll in it".

Monday, July 09, 2007

Hoppy Monday!

Wow, two weeks ago I thought I was going to clear my plate completely and be caught up. Now I am feeling totally swamped again. My apologies to any client out there that is feeling like their proof is not happening soon enough. I am working some late days trying to get everyone proofed as quickly as possible without cutting any corners.
The good news is that Allison is totally getting the hang of the painterly process and is setting up more and more pieces for me. At this point I am still trying to get my hands on all of the painterly projects however the bunny I am posting today was almost completely created by Miss Allison Crane. She worked several hours on this portrait and it turned out great. I worked maybe an hour on Mr. Bunny this morning at the most. You can always tell when Al has had a hand on our painterly pieces as she has a softer more velvety approach to the wacom than I do. I always tend to go in and add some strong jabby paint strokes and loose line work to her projects, however lately I feel the need to do less and less to her work. She is really getting very good. I guess it is time for me to update the site and better introduce Allison as an Art Paw painterly portrait artist, she is just no longer my little "assistant".

Monday, July 02, 2007

Christmas in July

Merry Christmas! Hohoho. Time to place those holiday portrait commissions and save big money now through July 15th. We will only be accepting a very limited number of commissions this year for the holidays during October & November so you have to order early this year to have an Art Paw portrait under the tree. We will also be raising our prices slightly in August to cover a recent increase in our canvas costs. Now is the time to order and save money!
Click here to take advantage of our current Warhol Sale.