Thursday, September 30, 2010

Challenges For Pet Portrait Artists

Ask any pet portrait artist what their number one challenge is and they will tell you getting high quality photographs from their clients. Ask any digital pet portrait artist and they will tell you the same thing and they will specify getting a "high resolution image" is almost impossible. I have created a video with FAQ's about how to send us a photo at the proper resolution, and my assistant Lola is starring in it as the questioner ...  check it out below.

We have so much available to us with technology and I know most of my clients have pretty decent digital cameras, heck even an inexpensive point and shoot can produce photographs at a size of at least 500K.  So what goes wrong and why do 9 out of 10 clients have trouble sending high res. images?

Here is my top 5 List of why some client images are so tiny in resolution:

• Some e-mail programs will auto-crunch your image when you send it without you even knowing it. If you think this may be happening you can upload your pics directly to us here:
• Some clients upload all their pics to facebook as a storage solution, not realizing that facebook will auto-crunch the yummy resolution right out of their photos so that the images load quickly on the web. They look great on your monitor and you never know that the file size has been reduced until you download it for printing.
• Some clients use the Kodak site to store their images and then send us a small web version from their main gallery. Know that Kodak still has the high resolution version that you can access and this page on their site will explain how to access your original files:
• Some images are tiny to start with because they are cell phone images. Most cellphones take really tiny resolution images because you can store more on your phone that way.
• Some clients send images from their free Flickr accounts. You must have a pro account at flickr to access your original high resolution version of your photos. You can learn more here:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cow Art

Cow Art
© rebecca collins /

Working on cow art updates today. This fellow's art is a little too colorful and loose so I am working to tame things down a bit.   All of my work at Art Paw is custom and while I like a lot of loose brush work and bold colors, I totally can understand that some interiors need a more calm and neutral palette. I have enjoyed playing with this fellow, I always have fun with different types of animals.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Big Tommy

Those of you that follow me at facebook or here on the blog know that Big Tommy had a rough week last week. He was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on his heart. He stopped eating for a couple of days and he felt pretty weak. I am pleased to report that he is feeling much better through the miracle of Prednisone. Steroids can really make a pup feel a lot better than they are.  He started acting like his old self on Sunday and these past 2 days have been really great. It helps a lot that the weather here in Texas is finally starting to feel like fall. We spent a lot of time outside on Sunday and the pics above are from that afternoon. The sketch is an old one from 2008, although I am trying to do at least one new sketch a day of him, sketching is my coping mechanism and a way to focus on him without driving him crazy with more attention than he can possibly stand.

I am working and trying to finalize and update a few portrait projects from September. Tommy likes my work routine and is hanging out in the office with me like he always has. We know our days with him are numbered and I am trying to mix as much normal routine as possible in with the extra good meaty food he is getting and the extra park visits. Each extra day with him is a gift at this point.


Take some photos this week of your pets! I can not tell you how many times I have created artwork from really blurry out of focus snapshots because they were like the only photo that my clients could find of an animal that had passed on.  Other times I have worked from quality photographs of pets taken on their last week where they don't have the normal sparkle in their eyes. So get the camera out this week and take some pics of your animals, they are with us such a short time.
Organize your digital memories! Ok this is where I am at right now. We have 3 or 4 computers with home snapshots on them. I have found tons of great old photos of Big Tommy and the other Scotties, but they are all over the place, some may even be on a machine that is not working ( need to get someone to try and retrieve those files). I need to set up file folders for the pets and then burn some back up cds of my images, and even print out some good shots and put them in a photo album like people did back in the dark ages before digital cameras. 
Hold your fur-babies close!  Don't feel sorry for me, we all go down this road at some point with our fur-kids. Just remember to celebrate your love for your pets each and every day, and get that camera out.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Papillion by Van Hooser

Check out the stunning Papillion below from Donna Van Hooser of Sun Dog Mosaics. You can see more of her lovely works over at Flickr, or on her main site at Sun Dog Mosaics.
"Brandi" © Donna Van Hooser
 I have blogged on Donna before. I love her mosaics because of the movement or andamento in her work.  A lot of pet portrait artists like to say that they focus on the eyes because they are the "window to the soul", well yea ... duh. I have seen this so many times in artist bios that it is starting to sound like a trite sound bite in my brain. With that said I do have to acknowledge Donna's ability to create realistic and soulful eyes in mosaic, because it is no easy task. Mosaic materials are less fluid than paint, they are chunky and I find it hard to achieve the same level of detail with glass or tile that one can achieve with painting or drawing tools. Donna's mosaic pups have lovely eyes with all elements present, the iris, pupil, highlight, and even a little of the corner-whites when needed. She seems to have no basic formula for this and each dog's eyes turn out very unique. The work she did of her parent's dog Floyd even has a bit of a droop and some pink showing under the eyes.
Donna  has a bold graphic style and her dogs are often created on top of simple bold color grounds.  In the work above you will notice that the movement of the blue tiles in the background serves to pull you back into the subject ... this piece is all about Brandi.  Donna is obviously 100% focused on her subjects and not just trying to impress us with her masterful mosaic techniques ... but of course, impress she does.
I know I said I was going to focus on local Dallas mosaics this month, but last week was crazy and I did not get a chance to get out and shoot the works I wanted to shoot.
I want to get over to the museum and shoot the work below by Miguel Covarrubias. Maybe soon I will get out of the studio with the camera so I can do some local mosaic reporting for you guys.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Big Tommy From 06

Looking at snapshots of our boy Big Tommy. He is very under the weather this week. I apologize in advance if I am slow to answer e-mails for the next few days. Yesterday was hectic as we went from our vet to a diagnostic clinic across town. They are unsure at this point what is causing fluid to build up in his stomach and chest. He was a strong happy playful dog last weekend and now he is pretty darn sick. Please keep your fingers crossed for our big headed boy. He is 10 and the Alpha of our little pack. He sings songs when you pet him just right and sing his name to him. I hope he is singing again soon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mosaic Monday / Dallas Mosaic Artists

Dallas mosaic artists are making things happen! I usually scour the web to find cool mosaic work from all over the country to talk about on Mondays or I sometimes will show off some of my own projects. Today and the rest of the month I want to cover local Dallas mosaics and local mosaic projects.

Check out my short video below about a large public garden project my classmates are involved in for the Texas State Fair.  I did not take part in the project, but I am so excited for everyone involved. They did an amazing job and I hope to create a longer video soon that will show the flowers in the garden. This video shows some in progress shots along with an interview with project organizer Katrina Doran.

Shannon Leigh Saunders recently had her mosaic work showcased by Cebolla Fine Flowers, the showing runs through Sept. 25th. I checked out this high end retail opening last week and was very impressed with both the quality of Shannon's work and also how beautiful her pieces looked in this large upscale retail environment. Shannon's work varied in subject matter, she was showing floral pieces, abstracts and even a portrait. What did not vary at all was her attention to detail and craftsmanship. Her work is just exquisite. I am afraid my small photos of the show postcard does not do her work justice.

The piece below was one of my favorites that Shannon was showing. I found this nice image over at flickr via member: allitscrackeduptobe.

© Shannon Leigh Saunders

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Dog Art

Dan Abby Brice ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Multiple pet projects are always fun and they always have their own unique set of challenges. I have just a little bit of tweaking to do on this portrait before we can finalize and print.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Scottie art

Abby ...part of a larger 3 pet portrait
© rebecca collins

I am working on a couple of different multiple pet portrait projects today. Abby above is one of 3 pets in a 24 x 18 painterly style portrait. I have a lot more work to do on this one, and I like the direction things are going.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mosaic Monday / Tons of Stuff Happening!

© 2010 rebecca collins

Yesterday I went up to the Creative arts Center to photograph some works in progress by some of my classmates for a promo-video I want to create, more on that below. When I arrived, my teacher handed me a postcard for the upcoming member's show, I was shocked and honored to find that they used my piece for the postcard invitation, yay for Bubo the bot! So today I have to try to get a  handful in the mail. The show opens this Thursday Sept 16th.
Third Space
"Art And The City"
Sept. 16th- October 2nd
1608 C Main Street
Dallas Texas 75215

I have started a new blog for a Mosaic Art Card Swap that I initiated. You can find that at:
I am swapping 3.5 x 2.5 mosaic art cards with both classmates and cyber pals. Our first swap theme is Day of The Dead. I have a handful of people enlisted that are excited about this tiny mosaic art swap  project.
And last but certainly not least I have to tell you about an exciting project some of my classmates are taking part in. Katrina Doran taught a class this past year on creating 3-d armatures and her students are finishing up huge flowers that will be on display at the State Fair of Texas this year. I did not join in the fun because I am just not ready to work in 3-d yet and working against a deadline like these ambitious mosaic artists have done would have driven me crazy. I am so proud and in awe of everyone involved in this and can not wait to see all of the flowers together in the gardens. Later this week I will try to finish a quick little promo video I am working on to promote this really cool local mosaic project. For now go on over to Katrina's blog to check out a great preview of just a small sampling of the works that will be out at the State Fair from Sept 24th - Oct.17th.

Hibiscus by Patricia VanBuskirk
Hibiscus by Jessica Smith
 Lily by Peggy Breedlove

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Leo The Golden Doodle

© rebecca collins/

Working on a few assorted pet portraits this week.  Leo was a joy to work on since the original image was high resolution and full of detail.  What a sweet face. He really seems to be smiling.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Originally uploaded by JaderBug12
Amazing action photo from flickr user JadreBug12

Friday, September 03, 2010

Zoe & Shyla

"Zoe & Shlya" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Have a great holiday weekend everyone! I will be working on mosaics and maybe planting a few flowers. If this break in the triple digit weather lasts this may be a good weekend to be outside digging in the dirt with the terriers.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Little White Dogs

Sometimes I will do 3 or 4 Boxers in one month, or Bostons, or Labs.  Lately we have had a wide range of different breeds, but tons of little white dogs.

Lola is back at work today and we are printing and shipping several pet portrait projects, trying to close out August so we can move forward on September projects.

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

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