Thursday, January 31, 2008

King Squid Mosaic

I finished my most recent mosaic this morning. I like this guy a lot and can not wait to get him framed. I guess I have done 8 squid themed mosaics now. I am going to try to do one mosaic a month this year. I have so many projects in my head.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cat Portraits "Patches"

Yes we do cat portraits. Been awhile since we posted any so I thought I would post Patches. We worked on this pretty cat earlier this month.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who are your Mentors?

Who are your mentors in life? How many have shaped you and do you currently have a mentor? In my monthly brainstorming group among friends, my photographer pal Kris asked this question last month. In business I would have to say I do not have a mentor at present.

I would like to talk today though about a mentor I had at the age of 20. While in school I worked at Montgomery Wards in Denton and I had the most dynamic, hardest working manager on the planet, her name was Jimmie Holland. She was like 5 feet tall and yet she walked with a confidence that made good ol boys step aside. She was in her late 50's at that time and she was a role model, a surrogate Mom, and in general a force to be reckoned with. To say she was respected in business is an understatement. She had a long career with Montgomery Wards back during the days when sticking with a company was a sign of loyalty that would be rewarded. She made her way in business the way many women did back then, in high heels with a sense of humor and a strong sense of self that must have served her well in a male dominated work force.

Jimmie reinforced in me a strong work ethic that was already present and more than anything she lead by example. She was an important woman in my life that gave me confidence at a very impressionable age.
Jimmie Lee Holland died Sunday the 27th at the age of 83.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pet Portrait Contest Winner "Rags"

Today I finalized the artwork for our "Cream of the Crop" contest winner. Rags is a stunning cow-dog with a challenging photograph. This pretty boy is no longer with Jamie so we had to work with the photos she had on hand. The image used was scanned and ended up containing a lot of noise or "grain". The other thing you will notice below is that once we erased Jamie this pretty boy was in hard profile staring up at nothing. I worked around this compositional challenge by giving him a ball to focus on. By placing that ball in the top left corner our eye will stop and not continue off the page. It also creates a story and a sense of play.
Scroll down to see a few of his proof choices. The 3rd proof down has the strongest "crop" and most unusual layout, however it is not really the most flattering.

I am really happy with how this pup's artwork turned out. You can see this boy's entire proof set by clicking here.
Rags was Jamie's soul dog and has been gone awhile. Even though this boy was really the four legged love of Jamie's life she had a tough time finding great pics to choose from, so let this be a reminder to all of us to get out the camera as often as we can. Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. These guys are with us such a short time.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Vanity The Sharpei

Vanity is a stunning Sharpei we worked on during the holiday season. This old girl's human sent us this terrific shot of Vanity ... admiring Vanity. I thought this shot was just way too clever, and have been meaning to post it all month. Her pet portrait is posted below.

How many of you guys have dogs that are self aware and seem to know when they look good, or maybe they pass by a mirror and get mesmerized with their own image? There is an interesting article over at Wikipedia about the mirror test developed by Gordon Gallup Jr to measure self awareness.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Squid, Bull, Pig ... Oh My!

Your Dog Will Dig It! Check out this very cool on-line shop for dogs. This Austin based business is a brick & mortar sort of place called Fetch, but if you can not make it to the coolest city in Texas then cool dog toys are just a click away. Go To: And start spoiling your dog today with very fun and hard to find toys!
I asked Cynthia what her best selling toy is and she told me to check out the "i-bone". I'm sorry, but all I need is for my dog to understand how to program a plushy phone while I still struggle with my own. It is a great gift for the techie dog owner in your life.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chocolate Lab Pet portrait

This is Hollywood's bold & experimental proofing option. The background was created from scratch and then duplicated and laid across the face using a layer effect. The sloppy paint line going across the face is intentional and probably not every one's cup of tea, but you never know. I have included a couple of details since it is hard to really see the layers of texture this piece has with a small web-image. Hollywood's entire proof set will be on-line tomorrow.

Golden Retriever Art

Bear's Mom ordered her 3rd portrait with us last week. She wanted to try out our Cream of the Crop Promo Special. I am still working on her proofing set, and hope to get her proofed Friday.

The top image is a painterly style Bear with an asymmetrical crop. The bottom image is the same digital painting pushed to some bold extremes. The bottom image is very flat ... the detail has been lost and replaced with more of a graphic illustration, digital art style with text about the Golden retriever breed overlaid in the background, along with a dog toy. I do not know where I am going with this look, just trying hard to push my boundaries and come up with a new style that will be a new direction. I will be experimenting a lot this year and while we will always proof with my proven painterly style and what we know works we will also try to throw in something brand new every now and then.

Bear's humans are wildlife photographers, visit them here:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Squid, Squid and yes more Squid

People have been giving me squid things lately. It all started last year when I started doing mosaics of octopus & squid. Last week my teacher, Katrina Doran gave me the perky paint by number squid you see above. By the way check out Katrina's website ... she is super talented and has been very supportive of my work and my new adventure into mosaics.

At Christmas time Allison brought the dogs some squid-toys ... you can see how popular they have been below. Poor blue squid is loosing his guts, he seems happy though ... still smiling.

Anyway ...very excited that class is happening tonight. I always think oh gosh ...I do not want to get out and go to my mosaics class, but I always have the best time. Below is the last mosaic I finished in December as a present for Dan. The squid is to the left and he has thrown the ball for Big Tommy ( ball is green shape in top right corner).

Below is my current project. I really wanted to use some yummy and garish combo of pinks, reds and oranges. I have quite a way to go on this guy. His body is close to being done. All of my mosaic projects start life on the computer since that is where I am most comfortable designing these days. Working in a media that takes forever has really calmed me down, it is like my Yoga I guess.

Monday, January 21, 2008


This cute little fluff-ball is Kieoki. The original image file on this girl was very low in resolution and yet I think she turned out pretty good.

I have been making to do lists for the year this morning. I went and got 2 spirals for business and one for my personal artwork ... I plan to write my creative ideas for projects promos and so on in these little journals. The trick is to take a gander at them every quarter or so to see how things are going and if I have indeed been able to bring some of my ideas to fruition. All creative types have more ideas than time and this can make us feel scattered and unproductive. By keeping my ideas in one place I can trick myself into thinking I have some control over them. Ha, we shall see how it goes anyway.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Doggy Sculpture

Check out this cool doggy snow-man. Found on New England Photos Blog.

Friday, January 18, 2008

And the winner is....

Actual hat used is shown above with actual comments.

We have a pet portrait winner! Allison drew the winning comment out of the hat for me ... ( I know half of you guys so I needed a non-partial person to draw the winning name). Jamie #1 is the winner! Congrats!
Jamie's winning comment: "I have followed your work....forever! Thanks from us dog lovers for immortalizing our pets in pictures. Keep up the great work and creative ideas."
Send me a photo Jamie and your pet portrait will be created later this month in the "cream of the crop" theme.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lola New Bulldog Art

Lola Before & After
This painterly style pet portrait is of an adorable English Bulldog named Lola. The background is a new twist on an old ground we have used before.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pet Portrait Give-Away /Artist Choice

For a Chance to win a free artist choice pet portrait just leave us a kind comment here on this post. Tell me something about your pet or how long you have been following my blog, or just say hi. I will be printing out the comments and putting them in a big hat to draw the winner. I will announce the winner next Friday the 18th, and that person will need to contact us within a week with a 1 mb jpg image of their pet.

I am launching a new monthly promotion called the Artist Choice Promotion. For the next 4 months I will be giving deep discounts on portraits ordered in the artistic style or theme of that month. I am also giving away a free portrait in this style next week, just leave a comment here on this post for a chance to win.

January's Artist Choice Theme: "Cream Of The Crop"
This month I want to do artistic crops. Yep, if only half of your pet's face will suffice or if you are a big fan of dramatic asymmetry then this is the style for you. Why artistic crops? Well throughout the year our clients use our site for ideas and often give us very specific direction such as "make my portrait look like Mr. Big Paws", or "give me the background color like on Nikki". We love this as it makes our work easier and yet we want to break out of the box so to speak and start doing some different things. Few people say, "hey, crop half of my dog's face off" .... yet when they see it ... well, we hope they find that it is kinda cool after all. We are ready to run with scissors and we hope our brave clients will trust & follow us.

Click here for more details on this promotion.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pet Portrait from Camera Phone

Enhanced image above shows eyes that were created by me, (not software) and some soft painterly texture added for interest.

Click image above to see just how bad the pixelation was!

Zoey the American Bulldog has a big grin and while her winning smile charmed me for sure her human's cell phone pic was quite a challenge. It is uploaded here at the full original size. I worked on this for at least an hour painting in detail, smoothing out pixels, and creating eyes that sparkle. Then I turned her over to Allison so she could spend some time working her Warhol inspired magic on this pop art pet portrait. Cell phone pics are never an ideal choice, but here at Art Paw we do all we can to create detail where there is none and we also try to create a smooth texture to replace jagged pixelation that occurs when we enlarge tiny resolution images. I think Zoey turned out quite fun. I always tell the girls you learn 1o times more working with challenging photos than you do working with perfect images. I'm just lucky that this very pretty girl had that big happy smile working for her, it kept me smiling as I smoothed each and every pixel.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sweet Abby

"Abby on Blue"
Last season I was very fortunate to get to work on a really special girl that belongs to one of my portrait artist pals. Linda O'Neill of Abby Creek Studios lost her sweet Abby last March and she asked me to create a special portrait that she ordered as a gift for her husband James. I love working for other artists on their pets and Abby was a terrific subject with that happy smile.

This was not the first time we connected on a portrait project though. Back in March of 05 I lost my boy Atticus and I contacted Linda that year to create a portrait for my husband. You can see the lovely portrait she created for us by visiting her site and clicking here.
She really captured our boy's sweetness. That year I found that when you are so raw with loss it can be really therapeutic to let another artist work for you.

Thanks to Linda for trusting me to do a good job, it means a lot to me.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Cool Dog Sculptures

"Hooch" ©

Check out the colorful creations of Marci Forbes at
Marci wrote a nice note to me a week ago and I really enjoyed browsing through her doggy sculpture gallery. She works with household discards and her mixed media work is as playful as her subject matter.

Felted Dog Sculptures by Amelia

Check out the detailed felt scupltures by successful artist Amelia over at Etsy. This gal has sold over 487 items in her Etsy shop. She is a great example of how you can be successful without a huge domain complete with flash and bells & whistles. This very talented lady seems to be thriving with no more than a personal blog and a strong Etsy Presence

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Mr. The Great Dane

24 x 36 canvas
This big fellow is called "Mr.". We are back to proofing on-line and this big boy's proofs will be posted on our home page tomorrow. Allison has posted quite a few of our December orders on the site, it will take her a month or longer to get all the new work on-line. It is so great to be back at my desk working on orders again. I am rested and ready for the New Year.