Friday, December 31, 2010

Art Dog Blog Top 5 Posts From 2010

A lot of bloggers are posting their top 10 list of favorite posts from the last year. I decided to keep it short & sweet and post my top 5 favorite posts from the Art Dog Blog.

• Where Do Creative Ideas Come From

• Ears Matter in Pet Portraiture .... they really do! It is not all about the eyes.

• Talking About Your Art ... we all need practice at this.

• Vanity Tools For Social Media Hounds

• Challenges for Pet Portrait artists ... this one is all about photography

In skimming through my past year of blogging it seems that I started out pretty strong in Jan. with lots of actual writing. I got lazier as the year progressed and defaulted back to a lot of art image posting. It is so hard to keep up the discipline of blogging and even harder to maintain a constant practice of writing.  I think if you are keeping up an art blog it is ok to give yourself a pass and just post images on occasion. The important thing is to just keep posting frequently. I hate finding a really cool new artist and then when I check their blog link I discover they have not updated their blog in months. Of course when time is limited and it is a choice between being in the studio and being on-line updating a blog, I know that the studio time is much more valuable.  I hope I can maintain a healthy balance in 2011.

"Big Tommy"
© Rebecca Collins /

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pet Portraits 2010 / April May June

© / "April"

© / " May"
© / " June"
With today's posting I have shown half of 2010, or 114 portraits.  I hope to create and post the remaining 6 months of collages by the first of the year.  I hope some of you guys see your pets here and will leave a comment.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pet Portraits 2010 / March

March was a fun month. What a wild assortment!

Pet Portraits 2010 / Feb

© Art Paw

Wow, I had a lot  of great subjects last Feb. In making these collage groupings I am discovering old art backgrounds that I have not used in awhile. I need to reorganize my background images and better organize all my original art files. I just received a copy of Adobe Lightroom3 in the mail from the PR department at Adobe. I plan to crack that open very soon and see if it will help me with my organizational needs.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pet Portraits 2010 / Looking Back

Looking Back to Look Forward.....

Looking back at 2010 commissions is easy with my on-line smug mug gallery. It looks like I uploaded a total of 237 commissioned pet portrait projects. Zowie. I am going to be creating monthly collages of the year gone by this next week.  By looking at the numbers and seeing what last year looked like I will be able to gauge my busiest months, and maybe throw more advertising dollars around during the slower months.

It looks like last January was very busy with a total of 22 portrait projects in-house.  Usually the year starts off very strong because everyone is showing off their holiday portraits to family and friends and then they want to order. I am going to have to get back to work very soon if this January is going to be able to compete with 2010.

This year I am going to be playing around with the business  model a bit. I am very proud of the work I did this year and yet I really want to do better and better work as I move forward. One of my biggest challenges is still trying to get really great high resolution photos to start from.  I think my prices may almost double this year and I will then offer deep deep discounts to people that can send high quality photographs to work from at the proper resolution. I first have to create a lot of help pages on the site and help videos to explain image resolution and give out great tips on how to shoot and send good photos.  This is going to be a top priority.

The other obstacle to getting better at my job is balancing the time issue. Everybody wants their custom artwork super duper fast usually for gift giving. Every now and then I have a project I am really grooving on that I would like to spend weeks on, not hours, and not days, but weeks. I have found that very few clients want to wait weeks and months for their artwork, it seems everyone needs it next week for Uncle Bob's Birthday.  I may play around with a higher end pet portrait option that takes much longer and it may involve my glass mosaic work.

So My Art Business Wish List for 2011:
I want to be able to take more time with each portrait project.
I want better high resolution images to work from.
I want to do larger works.
I want to experiment more with both style and materials.

I want to look at better ways to work with animal charity groups and get back to
working on projects that will help pets in need.
I want to make either the same or more money as I made in 2010.
Yes ... I want to have my cake and eat it too!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Riley Dog Sculpture with Bowl

Click through on this image to see more great mosaics over at Flickr by Suzanne E. Noll. Or find her at:

I know that I have featured Suzanne's work before, but this latest creation  stopped me in my tracks and I just had to share it. What a happy image to start the week off with.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas From Art Paw!

My Big Tommy From a couple of years ago.
Merry Christmas Everyone!

Well today I am officially saying I am closed for the holidays. I will still check in on e-mail once a day and send off Gift certs that get ordered, but I am done with pushing pixels around for a week or so.  I may do a few blog posts, but for the most part I want to be reading books, going to museums and listening to music.

Next week I am going to dust off my mosaic nippers and start on some new glass projects, or maybe just finish some old ones.  I need a break from the digital art for a week or so and I need to rest. I am really excited about 2011.

I hope you guys are all planning for a restful and creative Holiday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lock In 2010 Portrait Prices Today!

After much back and forth debate I have decided to raise my portrait prices in 2011. It has been a few years since I messed with my pricing and canvas costs have gone up along with other expenses. I will of course always honor old Gift Certificates so a great way to lock in this year's pricing for future work is with a Gift Certificate.

Click here to order a portrait now for you loved one or for yourself, you just send your pics in when you are ready for me to start on your project.

Art Paw E-Certs arrive in your in-box within 24 hours of payment.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mosaic Monday / Woodie the Corgi

Woodie the Corgi
Originally uploaded by siriusmosaics
Another great doggy mosaic by Lynn Dubnicka. My own mosaic of Big Tommy that Lynn did arrived this weekend and I am not opening it until Christmas. It is driving me crazy too, because I really want to see it and touch it. I figure if I wrap it up and open it on Christmas morning with Dan then Big Tommy will be here with us on Christmas morning.

Woodie: Love the background and how the tessera flows around those big ears. I like that warm brown glass and everything about this sweet Corgi mosaic. The eyes are great too!

Read more about Lynn on Kim Grant's blog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different

And Now for Something Completely Different  ... I  think that is my new favorite blog title, and I hope to use it a lot in 2011.
Tonight I finalized a project that has been pending for a few weeks now. I have sort of been saving it for dessert because I knew the challenges it would provide would be different and require a whole different mindset from the pet art.  One of my repeat clients wanted me to create a painterly style piece from a vacation photograph.  Check it out ....

"San Miguel" ( see proofs)
© rebecca collins /

About the art:  My main request from the client was to remove the cars. That was a pretty easy fix with the clone tool. Then I played with saturation, then filters, them smudge tool, then the paint tool. I removed some vertical antennas and lines in the horizon that were distracting, but wanted to leave that one line going to the buildings because for me that line makes the entire piece work. With Photoshop it can be way too tempting to sanitize everything in a photograph and too often people will take away something in a knee jerk reaction sort of way without really seeing what the "offending" item could really be adding to the composition.

Once I had removed the cars everything seemed a little too quiet and lifeless so I added a pigeon. Well I am an animal over after all. I tried 2 and then 3 pigeons, but one single bird was the answer, because with just one you still get a sense of a sleepy little street in a small town. See the detail image below.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mason The American Bulldog

"Mason" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Ok so I think today it will be official ... we have proofed everyone that ordered by posted holiday deadlines, all approved orders are shipping out today..... YAY!!!!
Next ...
All prepaid late orders that have come in this month are being worked on in the order they were received. My plan is to get all of my late orders proofed no later than Tuesday the 21st. My local Dallas clients will be able to pick up approved projects on Tuesday the 21st.  A lot of folks this year have been happy with the proofing only option and it is not a bad idea because that way your recipient gets to pick out their favorite colors, and we then ship after the holiday madness.

This year has actually been a little slower than last year and I am sort of ok with that. It has allowed me to spend more time with each project.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mosaic Monday/ ATC Mosaic Video

Last month I hosted a mosaic ATC card swap here at my home. In addition to trading mosaic art cards with my off-line classmates I also had a hand full of swaps with my on-line pals in the mosaic community. Our theme was Day of the Dead, or the color orange. The card swap idea caught on here locally and other mosaic classes started up card swaps in their classes as well. I hope the idea spreads like wildfire because it is a lot of fun and the whole point for me is to meet more people in the mosaic community both here locally and beyond. The video below showcases just a few cards from our Day of the Dead Swap. I worked very hard on organizing this swap, and I could not have done it without the enthusiasm and encouragement from my friends. I am very fortunate to know a lot of creative people that are just as generous as they are talented.

 Some ATC History:
ATC: artist trading cards, are original works of art about the size of baseball cards (2.5 x 3.5) and they are traded among artists for artists. The term ACEO was created to designate cards that could be sold or produced in limited editions. ACEO stands for "Art Cards, Editions and Originals".

I am not the first to create mosaic ATC's, or organize a swap. You can find some great mosaic trading cards over at Flickr from a swap that Stacy Alexander started way back in 09.

More Links:
printed atc zine:
and my own swap blog:

Next Swap is in FEB...
Theme: Hearts, love, passion or the color red ... so who wants to play? 

A few slides below from the video:
© rebecca collins

© Katrina Doran

© Linda Stover

© Kelly Railsback

© Lynn Dubnicka

© Cherie Bolsea

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Rascal on the Wall!

Wow, I love that blog title, don't you... a Rascal on the wall indeed. Have been meaning to upload these pics a client sent me right after Thanksgiving. I worked on  a fun Holiday themed portrait of his pup Rascal. This little fellow turned 3 on Thanksgiving day I think. The project was a surprise for his wife. These fun pet people are local and even though they have a 2 legged human kiddo they still adore their fur-kid too. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Something Completely Different

And Now For Something Completely Different ...
A Dog In The Grass!

"Stewert" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

"Stewert" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Sometimes people send me a photograph that is a little different and it is always fun to break away from the standard classic portrait layout. This original photograph is stunning for a million reasons ... I will just list my top 5 reasons:
Image Quality: Client sent original large high resolution version ... full of rich yummy detail. They did not grab a web quality image off of facebook.
Mood:  There is a story here, has Stewert been playing hard? Maybe he is just a lazy boy? There are lots of stories the viewer can make up.
Angle: ... I think someone ended up with grass stains on their jeans after this photo shoot. They shot this at doggy ground level. If you do not end up with mud, grass stains and slobber all over you after a photo shoot then you are not really digging in to the process.
Lighting: ... great lighting here, the sun is not too harsh, but there is plenty of natural light.
Composition: I love the fact that the dog is the largest thing in the photo. Too often people will center their subject and then get 5 yards away from them to shoot the photo. If the pup is the size of a pea on your photograph once I enlarge them there will be very little detail to work with. Get up close to your subject, who cares if an ear goes off the edge?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My New Wire Hair Fox Terrier/ Whitman

This is Whitman. He is 1 to 2 years old and he is a rescue pup. I have always wanted a Wire Hair Fox Terrier so when my friend Vikki forwarded me a link to this little boy that needed fostering it was love at first sight. We figured at the very least we could foster him, but we knew as we were driving away from the clinic that we were in love and he would just have to get along with our pack.  The Scotties are amused  by him. My girl Pixel, ( or Pickle as we call her because she can be both sweet and sour) is rather sassy with him and they have stuff to work out, but they get closer every day and are playing tug of war now with very little scuffling about one dog being a sore loser. 

Been meaning to share him with you guys for a week now. Oh, and that bottom pic is of him sitting up straight, nobody taught him that he just does randomly.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Shipping Lots of Art Paw Pet Art!

I think we shipped well  over 30 boxes today... that means Lola shipped well over 30 boxes, I helped organize the orders.  It was not all custom art, lots of small gift shop orders. Our deadline has passed for taking on new holiday pet portraits, however there is plenty of time to order pet portrait gift certificates or you can find our reproduction breed prints over at Amazon and Etsy.

You can also find fun stuff in our Cafe Press Shop.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Mosaic Monday / Big Tommy

Big Tommy
Originally uploaded by siriusmosaics
This stunning Mosaic is by Lynn Dubnicka. This is my boy Big Tommy and I love how she got the ears just perfect. He was all ears, and all heart. We lost him around the same time that she lost her own fur-baby Gretchen.

I know Lynn via Flickr. She asked me shortly after Tommy passed if she could do a portrait of him once she got back to working on portraits. I was so touched I asked her if I could possibly do some art of Gretchen for her.

I only hope I can do as good a job on her sweet girl as she did on my big headed boy. I will be doing a large digital painting on canvas of her Dobie Gretchen later this month.

You can see more of Lynn's work over at Flickr.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Great Photos = Great Pet Portraits!

I know I sound like a broken record, but my very best pet portraits seem to always start from really great photos.  I just got Pippa's proofs on-line and I am very pleased with this little Puggie.

"Pippa" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

 I had 2 things working in my favor here and the first is a stunning high resolution original image, the 2nd is good communication.  The client specified that she liked Bubba the Pug, so I knew she would not be afraid of color. I opened up Bubba and made sure to include some of the orange strokes and yellow tones on Pippa's artwork. You can see Bubba below.

© rebecca collins /

Taking Good Pet Photos:
I know that during the holidays getting a great photo of a pet that is not yours can be a challenge. I can work from almost any image that is a minimum of 500K. I have started a photo tips section on the blog and next year I plan to really start adding to that each week. 

Doggy Collars

I love painting the dog collars on my subjects. Sometimes people ask me to remove dog tags or collars in their paintings and I will reluctantly do so. I happen to love dog collars and little heart or boned shaped tags. To me they say "love". They tell me that this dog is so important they need to be protected with a tag and they need a nice sturdy collar that looks good on them.  The first thing we did when we adopted Whitman was go to the store and get him a tag and a collar.  Ah yes, Whitman.......... I promise to take a short break from creating pet portraits this weekend so I can shoot some pics of our new puppy for the blog.  He is at the vet right now with Dan getting set up with heart worm preventative, microchip and so on. I feel guilty this time of year because I spend so much time in front of the computer working on art. The pups don't mind too much, at least I am at home doing my work. The good news is Dan will be off the week after next and he plans to spend a lot of time teaching our new boy a few commands. He may also get roped into stretching a few canvases ... we shall see.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Parker The Lab

"Parker" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Countdown .... Countdown to Christmas Deliveries!  It looks like I have 13 more projects from November to finalize and that is going to happen by this coming Tuesday December the 7th. So if you ordered a pet portrait some time in November I am going to be working all weekend to make sure I have you proofed by this Tuesday.  That gives us 17 whole days to get it through the mail system .... I think we will be more than ok.  YAY!!!!  
As I keep saying .... relax if you are waiting on a proof or an update... I promise it will happen. If you made a payment and you gave me a workable photgraph I am going to take care of you.
Once I have taken care of everyone that ordered by posted deadlines I will start proofing people that are calling and trying to slip in after the posted deadlines.  My goal is to finish out November this weekend and we will then see what is possible in December.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Riley The Corgi

"Riley" ( See all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

 I just love Corgis. This project of Riley was a joy to create because the original image was pretty decent in resolution and the pose was adorable. I added some pretty strong strokes to the fur to try to get across the texture and the thickness of the fur.
Working on pet portraits today. Clients that are waiting on proofs ...  please relax ... we have 20 shipping days until Christmas. That means I have 19 working days ... I will meet my deadlines, I promise.   

Today is the last day to order a pet portrait with a guaranteed delivery. The best way to order is on-line so click here to place your order today.  If you miss this deadline what I can do is promise you proofing by 12/24.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

3 - Dog Night!!!

Ok just a very quick little text post today. The weather has turned here in Texas and the chill is upon us. I am happy to report that we will be having a 3-dog night. Yes we have a chilly winter evening that requires 3 dogs in the house to keep you warm. Well, the universe has thrown a dog at us and we are back to having THREE again!!! It is way too soon, and we are not ready, but little Ajax needs something to distract him from the empty hole that Big Tommy has left in our hearts when he left us. So...........................

We are adopting a Wire Hair Fox Terrier! Thank you Vikki, for forwarding the info about the rescue puppy "Cliff Lee" ... soon to be renamed .... I think .... probably he will be called "Whitman", after both Walt Whitman and Dan's Grandfather, a sweet crusty old guy that lived to be like 95 or something.

Dan once had a Fox Terrier named Scout years before we married. A mythical creature, with fold down ears, I have long been enamoured with the breed!

So anyway ... watch the blog for pics of our little new Fox Terrier ... soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

3 New Doggy Pet Portraits

"Tinker Bell" ( see all proofs)
© Rebecca Collins /

"Hank & Bentley" ( see all proofs)
© Rebecca Collins /

"Dixie" ( see all proofs)
© Rebecca Collins /
Working hard this week and pushing to get a lot of folks proofed before Thanksgiving. My goal is always to try to touch at least 3 projects per day. That does not always happen, but it is the goal.  People are often amazed that I can create so many portrait projects during the holidays. It is simple math really. If you try to work 12 hour days you can give 3 portraits 4 hours of time each. That is usually enough time per project although I can get bogged down when there are several pets in one portrait. I also try to work almost every day of the week during November & December so that gives me extra time. I do not work full days on the weekends, but I do work some.  I get totally stressed out each year during the Christmas push, but this year I refuse to go crazy. I know I will meet my deadlines. In fact that is my mantra as I get out of bed each morning now. I say out loud " I am meeting my deadlines today". 
I do have help ....
Oh, and I happen to have an amazing assistant that does all the stretching, shipping and even lends a hand on occasion with the digital prep work. Lola helps out with setting up my Warhol projects, she can fix glow eye and she erases the backgrounds on the photos that come in.  I could not make it through the holidays without her help. Dan usually helps out too, but he has not had to do any stretching at all lately.
So Stay Tuned...
If you are waiting on a portrait proof please sit tight and know it will happen soon. We have a few weeks to go so relax and give me some time to work.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mosaic Monday/ Centennial Park.

Originally uploaded by Maculata Jones
Found this wonderful Scottie dog over at Flickr. The description says Centennial Park. There are a few other dog mosaic shots in the stream by Maculata Jones.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting loose with Homer tonight

© Rebecca Collins /

You know I am trying to break out of my normal art routine when you see the color pink show up. Yes, I have talked about pink before. That hue that seems to only belong to little girls and Barbie®. We saw the new Harry Potter flick this weekend and Professor Delores Umbridge seems to embody everything about pink that drives me crazy. You know what I am talking about, that sticky soft sweetness that is both false and weak. And yet .... if you can manage to punch it up and give it a little contrast, give it some pow, well pink can be rather butch after all. Yea, I said butch, that tired 90's slang referring to testosterone, and how much a guy or a gal may have of it. I happen to think that Homer probably has plenty of it and a little pink in the background of his pet portrait is not going to hurt him at all. With that said I will of course play it safe and show the client some safe blues and greens. I hope they like this proof, cause he is sort of done, and I know this is going to be my favorite proof.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And The Winner Is....

The winner from my Blog drawing for free Big Tommy Holidays cards is Peri. I did a random draw and Peri's name was picked.

The Winner from my Facebook drawing is John Hill. Again, it was a random draw out of the hat.

Both winners happen to be Terrier owners.   All they need to do to claim their prize of 6 holiday cards is send me an e-mail to collins with their address and I will slip the cards in the mail next week.

Thanks to everyone that left such great comments here at the blog and over at facebook. I will probably have a few more blog drawings within the next few weeks. So check back.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Last chance to enter Big Tommy Card Drawing

Last Chance to Enter the Drawing for a set of 6 Big Tommy Holiday Cards!  Just leave a comment on this post and I will enter your name in the drawing. I would love it if you would tell me how your pet brings you joy. I will announce the winner tomorrow here on the blog.  The drawing is for a set of 6 of the Scottie cards shown above.


Golden Flakes
It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here! Today I am working on custom holiday cards for a couple of repeat clients and one holiday themed pet portrait. I am currently not accepting any additional requests for designing custom holiday cards. Every year I get  a small handful of requests from folks for this type of design service and I wish I could accept more projects like this, however I really do not make much money on this type of work once I sit down and calculate the time it takes.  I do have a handful of terrific Christmas cards  for sale in my Cafe Press shop with lots of different breeds and types of pets represented.  Click Here to check out some of my snowflake designs.

Rascal is a cutie pie and I am working on updates to his artwork later today.