Monday, June 30, 2008

Gaining new perspectives at White Rock Lake

"Lola & Scotts at White Rock Lake Dog Park"

We live in Dallas Texas in an older neighborhood called Casa Linda. We are a 5 minute drive from White Rock Lake. This is a man made lake, that thrives and hosts a variety of wildlife, smack dab in the city. On the weekends we take the dogs for long walks there, and Dan rides his bike around the lake at least 3 times a week. On some occasions we will drive around our lake after dinner and smooch in the dark like a couple of teenagers. We love living here and never seem to take White Rock for granted. This weekend I purchased a canoe for Dan for his birthday and we got out on the lake, and paddled to the middle. It was so amazing to be in the center looking out. Seeing some of our favorite spots from a distance with water all around really opened my mind up in a lot of ways.

photograph by Dan Collins

So even though I worked this weekend and handled two portrait clients, we managed to squeeze in some play, and the mini-break of 3 hours was like an entire vacation. Later that day I laughed to myself and decided that our small 2 bedroom cottage is actually a "Lake House". No longer do I see my home as a tiny bungalow that can barely contain my growing business... nope we live in a lake house and we have a "boat".

Yes ... we are living the life!

Do you have treasures in your own backyard that you may not be "treasuring". If you are a city dweller go out and find those magical spaces in your city that are over-flowing with birds and other wildlife. There is no better way to recharge your battery!

Photos Above From a White Rock Lake Flickr Group ( not my own).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vintage Dog and Pet Photos

Handsome Scottish Terrier at 1930's dog show / found at Flickr

Cool vintage Doxie / found at Flickr
Vintage Dog and Child / Found at Flickr

Anyone that follows this blog knows that I have a bit of a Flickr Fetish. On weekends I often like to post my favorite finds. Last week I stumbled a really cool collection of photos that were not specific to Flickr or to animals really. Check out the Young Me- NowMe Gallery over at Color Wars.
You will find some vintage personal pics from folks and their modern day recreation of that pose or shot. The girl below is just one example.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Mountain Dog Painting At 5:00 AM

"Obie" Loose and Messy
Woke up at 5:00 AM this morning and could not get back to sleep. I figured what better time to work on pet portraits. This Bernese Mountain Dog is Obie. The proof sample above is not my favorite, but it was fun to get really loose and messy with that one. I like the art proof below a lot ... you can see All 6 proofs by clicking here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Elliot the Chinchilla Persian Cat

This blue eyed kitty art has been set up for digital painting. Allison set this portrait up for me on Wednesday. I still have a bit of work to do on Mr. Elliot and a few more projects in line ahead of this one. I look forward to playing with this sweet little Persian.

Allison is our resident cat person and her last day is today. She has been with us for 2 years now. This gal has taken over all the web work, she helps with painterly projects, and she even reluctantly learned to stretch canvas. She will be missed around here. She is moving to Chicago to pursue her dreams of being a full time web designer.

We have also hired a part time summer intern named Jamie. Jame is going to help us with canvas stretching, shipping and whatever else we can think to throw at him. He starts today.

I run a very small portrait studio and I always get very attached to my artists. Hiring young students brings a certain energy and vitality into a business and yet you know going into it that their time with you is going to be limited. I always hope that my artists learn a lot here and remember Art Paw fondly.

Good Luck Allison! Now Go Find Your Passion.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Squid & Dogs!

Yesterday I went on a spending spree over at Etsy. I bought a handful of squid themed goodies and a couple of dog art prints. Check out these terrific Etsy Artists.

"Elspeth and Yorrick ACEO Limited Edition"
by Scarlett

I am not usually a fan of the big eyed kids look, but this clever illustration was so absurdly wonderful, I just had to have it. This gal has talent to spare, check out her shop.

"Scrabble Tile Pendant" Lime Octopus

by HomeStudio - Creativity by Mark & Stefani, a collective

I am a big time scrabble player so when I saw these cute little pendants created on scrabble letters I just had to have one ( or two). Check out Home Studio, they even have a Chihuahua pendant.

"Vintage Natural History ala Davy Jones Locker"
by Blue Bird Lane
I have no idea what I am going to do with these tags with vintage squid art, but again .... I had to have them.

"Boston terrier on a tricycle"
By Brian Rubenacker
You have to check out Brian's artwork. In addition to lovely dogs he has some really wonderful robots. I think what I love most about his style is his sophisticated sense of color. Look at the print above and wrap your mind and eyeballs around that combo of mint and dirty gold with a punch of red ..... ZOWIE! Oh and yea, then there is the humor of a dog riding a tricycle ... makes me smile. This is going in my office.

"Scottish Terrier Print"
by John Golden

And last but never least is a Scottie print .....yay. I had favorited this guy months ago, and finally had to put it in my shopping cart. John is another very cool illustrator that does dogs and, yes robots.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Repurposing in graphic design

"Bailey" ( see all 6 proofs)
"Harrelson Kitties" ( see all 6 proofs)
"Bliss" ( see all 6 proofs)
Repurposing is a word I heard for the first time a few years back at a Photoshop seminar. I had been "repurposing" for years, and never had a fancy name for it. Here at Art Paw we repurpose or "recycle" our backgrounds and often try them on new portraits. We can change the layout or colors on the ground to achieve new results. The whole concept with "repurposing" is to create a library for yourself of original images or graphic elements that you can revisit later with new projects. All of our backgrounds are original creations and not "off the shelf" clip art solutions.

As you can see from the 3 images above one background can look entirely different on 3 different portrait projects. Instead of just plopping the ground behind our pet subjects, we always try to readjust the layout or slightly tweak the colors as needed. In the 1st sample above you see a lot of periwinkle, then the kitties have a little peach in their ground while Bliss had a wee bit of pink thrown in. One thing to keep in mind with repurposing: never allow it to make you lazy, you have to continually come up with fresh stuff and new ideas for your library of tools.

In what areas of your job can you repurpose files, tasks or other elements to help your work flow? Do you find yourself reinventing the wheel with each new creative project or do you have an arsenal of past work and inspiration to draw from?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Pug Named Bruno

Painterly Style Pet Portrait
"Bruno Proof #5 above"
Original photo above
This cute little guy is Bruno and his Mom is a very old Art Paw client. Hmmm that did not sound right at all. She is not old, but she did commission a pet portrait with us years ago when we were first starting out ... I think we were both just teenagers back then. Bruno's new artwork was created in my painterly style and the approved proof is # 5 with the fun and funky Mod circle ground.

When Shelley ordered her first portrait with us, way back in 2002 we were focused on Warhol looks and Master Paw Prints. The pop art image below of Daisy was Shelley's first project with us. That expression and side "eyeball look" made Daisy an instant Puggie favorite around here.
Just a few of our other painterly Pugs on Youtube Video
click to play

Monday, June 23, 2008

Many New Pet Portraits This Week

Photos lacking in detail ... not a problem at Art Paw!
( Original pet photo above)
( digitally painted & altered version above)
Compare the two images above to see how all important the eyes are. If an image is lacking in detail or possibly a bit low in resolution I find that my first goal is to make the eyes sharp and to give them contrast and sparkle. If you can make the eyes work well then the rest of the portrait will follow. If a client supplies a photograph with little more than black hollows for eyes, I will do my best to paint in and dress up what I have to work with. Since the eyes are really the windows to the soul it is always best to start with a great high resolution photograph that shows off the eyes very well.
We have added a handful of new works to the site this last week, and have around 6 more to proof this week so check the art dog blog daily for new artwork.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Video Video Video

Octopus Mosaic
Originally uploaded by artpaw
Seems like everyone is focused on video these days. Tonight I experimented with my web cam to show off a new Mosaic I have been working on. I uploaded to Flickr because I hoped my Flickr pals would be kind when and if they comment. This short 90 second clip is very rough, but if I waited until I looked great and sounded great .... well I would never post anything.

The other video I want to share is from Moira over at Dog Art Today. She has created a fantastic dog art video and she included our artwork of Bella. Thanks Moira and good job. If you double-click through to youtube then please leave her a kind comment, she is trying to get this baby to go viral, and I think she has good shot at that.

Oh and I want to share a quick link from copyblogger about video and marketing:
Check out Gary Vaynerchuk

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Fiesta" By Christine Brallier

Check out this terrific Mosaic by one of my Flickr pals. I was so impressed with her photo set documenting the progression of this piece that I asked her if I could make a little slide show movie for her. Christine is a very talented artist and you can find more of her work here:

Monday, June 16, 2008

What color is your Monday?

Wag The Dog

My Monday is a grounded group of greens bordered by some zippy reds and violets. This pallet was inspired by Olive's artwork.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day
Originally uploaded by artpaw
Happy Father's Day Everyone! This is an old photo of my Dad & Mom. He was probably about 20 years old here, and my Mom was 17.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What have you learned from your dogs?

My dogs teach me a lot. Each is so different from the other and so of course they have their own unique lessons to share. Here is a list of 5 things I have learned from each of my Scotts.

5 things I have learned from Big Tommy

#1 If you love something throw it under the dresser, or absence makes the heart grow fonder. Tom has a bad habit of playing against our bedroom dresser and losing his ball. When this happens he whines until we retrieve it for him.

#2 Celebrate your joy in song. Tom sings in a high pitch when you lightly rub his ears.

#3 Be a kind leader. He is a gentle sweet Alpha.

#4 Sundays were made for the lake.

#5 Play all out, then play some more. Tommy is our most athletic dog and our healthiest.

5 things I have learned from Ajax

#1 Anytime can be snuggle-time.

#2 Even the lowest man on the totem pole can be a brave warrior and fierce hunter. Ajax has caught more than a couple of squirrels in his 4 years.

#3 Laugh often! Our little boy throws his head back open mouthed and giggles when you start laughing and rubbing his chest & belly.

#4 Avoid processed foods. Our allergy prone boy eats only the best holistic diet that includes cooked chicken & rice and high-end organic kibble.

#5 Expand you pack. Ajax enjoys having lots of friends, both canine & human.

5 things I have learned from Pixel

#1 Be brave in this scary scary world.

#2 When in doubt, bark first ... ask questions later.

#3 Always run with your pack, there is safety in numbers.

#4 Walk softly & chew on sticks.

#5 Sometimes the sweetest love is the hardest to win.

Leave me a comment and tell me what your dog has taught you ... be sure and include their name.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Color Bunnies

Just stumbled across this terrific ad for Sony... happy clay bunnies multiplying and bouncing around the city. Have a great Friday everyone. Get outside this weekend. Find your own clay bunny.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another Spotted Tongue

This has been the week for spotted tongues. This happy girl is Olive. Her original photograph did not have tons of detail, but it did have tons of joy. I decided to sketch in some loose and happy lines on this shaggy pup's coat. I would say that 90% of the time we do close head & shoulder crops. Every now and then we get in a photo that just begs to have the full body included and this is one of those times.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Composition is everything

"Turner & Jake" ( as proofed )
"Turner & Jake" ( updated )
This last month I have been discussing the elements and principles of design. When starting on a portrait I find that "composition" is all important. How we crop an image, what is going on with the negative space, and overall movement has to be considered. Some images are easier than others and sometimes our clients give us input that really helps. I usually do not like to do pets in hard profile because I like to see both eyes. The other issue with pets in profile is that our eyes are going to go in the direction ( hard left or hard right) that they are facing. In this portrait for Turner & Jake the original position of the pups did not work as well as the client's request to flip them to face in the other direction. Our eyes read from left to right, and in the 1st image proof we start reading the image ... we see the dogs and our eyes just keep on going in the direction they are staring, right off the canvas. In the 2nd composition our eyes stop at the right edge of the print and come back into the piece to gaze on the pups again. This is a great example of a client providing really important design input that improved their portrait 100%.

Turner & Jake ( original photo)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sick as dog

Down with a summer cold today. Checking messages and e-mails, I will be back in full swing tomorrow.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Spotted Tongues ... oh my!

"Buddy & Tank"

Here at Art Paw we love to celebrate and embrace the quirky unique markings some pets have. When selecting the best photo to use for this portrait project I was sold on the one that really showed off Buddy's spotted tongue. I love these 2 happy dogs.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Flickr Fans

"Man's Best Friend"
Posted at Flickr by doublewinky's

I love flickr ... have not had much time to play over there lately. I just fell in love with this happy dog trinket. All of the photos in this person's stream are shot in a playful manner with groovy retro backdrops that include table cloths, books, even playing cards. If you are a thrift store fanatic and need a fix without leaving the house ... this gal's photo stream may be the ticket.
"Purple Elephant"
Posted at Flickr by doublewinky's

Friday, June 06, 2008

Charlotte The American Bulldog

"Sweet Girl"

Happy Friday everyone. This sweet girl is Charlotte. Her original photo was just perfect. This custom pet portrait was commissioned as a Father's Day gift. It is not too late to order a Gift Cert for Dad from Art Paw.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

More Client Photos


This last week we received a great e-mail and follow up photo from Spunky's human. Spunky was a stunning dog with bright blue eyes and an unusual coat. When I first saw his pics I had to ask if he was some sort of exotic breed I had not heard of. He was in fact a one of a kind with such noble lines that everyone that saw him must have wondered what magical breed he was. It was an honor to work on this special memorial project.
"Ms. Rebecca: I've just finished hanging the BEAUTIFUL canvas of my beloved dog!! I cannot tell you how beautiful it is!! I'm going out to buy a shelf tomorrow to finally finish the wall!! I've shown a few of my neighbors and they are amazed at how wonderful it looks!! He was loved by everyone!! I'll send you a picture once I'm through with everything - it's totally wonderful!!! Thank you so much and keep up the good work!! " JG

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Waldo & Kodak Pet Portrait

Waldo & Kodak (see all 6 proofs)

These two pups were tough. The Weim's image had an odd texture. Since the image is over 32 years old I had to work with what we had. Kodak on the right was horribly low in resolution and of course he pixelated like crazy upon enlargement. I am very happy with how well these two happy looking pups turned out.

See before & after details below: