Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Back from vacation and ready to work. 
Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 22, 2010

German Shepherd Art

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

Great photos turn into great pet portraits.  The image of Grace above shows a lot of coat texture, the eyes are expressive, everything about this photograph is just perfect. I probably could have erased the wooden pole, but I sort of liked it.

© rebecca collins /

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pet Photography Tips: Get Up Close!

Bacon Kitty Original photo
Bacon from yesterday's post had a great photo to work with.  Check it out above, Bacon fills the entire frame.  The best photo to send me here at Art Paw is one that is shot up close. If your camera has a zoom feature then use it. Below I will post a variety of kitty photos and show you what happens when we enlarge them.
Tortoise shell Kitty

The photo above is cute, but the kitty is very small and shot from far away. Check the image below to see what kind of detail we have to work with once we enlarge the photo.
Tortoise shell Kitty Enlarged
The camera caught the overall scene but very little detail. I would have a hard time working with this image.

Now compare the photo above with the image below of a tabby that was shot up close.
Tabby Kitty....
Wow, look at the detail in the enlarged photograph above!

Interesting shot of a black kitty. I like this photo a lot, but it will not work well in a pet portrait, the kitty is just way too small to show much detail. See what happens below when I enlarge it.
I can not even see this cute cat's nose, there is very little detail here.

So get up close to your pet. If you have to  you can have someone hold them in their lap, I can erase the human, but I can not create detail I can not see, and when I do it is total guess-work.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bacon Kitty

© rebecca collins /
We are starting to get very busy for the holidays. Don't wait till the last minute to order a pet portrait this year.  Due to college graduations and other family events I will have an early and strict cut off date this year for Christmas orders.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mosaic Monday/ Day Of The Dead

© rebecca collins

This mosaic I did last year of Atticus was accepted and is showing at the Bath House's Dia de los Muertos show here in Dallas. The show runs through November 13th. I went to the opening last night and was impressed with all of the work. I am honored to be in such good company.


© rebecca collins  

I placed one of my artist trading cards in my Etsy Shop last week and she has been featured in a great Day of The Dead treasury. Thanks to Jo Ann for adding her in to such a fun grouping.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flash Back Friday/ Peace Chick

© Becky Lansdowne
© Becky Lansdowne  
Ha, you will notice on these Flash Back Friday posts I have gone from Rebecca Collins to Rebecca Lansdowne, and now with these drawings I was "Becky Lansdowne". It was the early 70's and I was around 12 years old when I doodled these.  I think when I run out of scanned art to share I will dig around for old pics of me and past pets. You guys need to meet my first cat Juno. She was all white and when I was a kid I dressed her up in doll clothes.

I do have more new pet art to post very soon, including some cat art.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My boy Atticus Immortalized

 Atticus original photograph

So what do pet portrait artists love? Art by other pet portrait artists of course. The artwork above is my boy Atticus by Christine Throckmorton's from her 30/30 painting project that she guest posted about this summer on the blog. She did an amazing job I think, I love the colors. The tail is adorable, and the hair on the nose is perfect. You can read her terrific post about Atticus and synchronicity over on her blog. Atticus was our first Scottish Terrier and we lost him back in 05. I found her blog post on our boy the same day I picked up Big Tommy's ashes. It was a sweet reminder that life is a rich full circle and you have to just keep celebrating love, there is nothing else that matters.

Atticus on the I Heart Dogs Studio Blog

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pet Photography Tips: Multiple Pets

Here at Art Paw I can create one single canvas portrait of multiple pets and they do not have to be in the same photograph for me to place them together. With that said, it is very important that the photos sent in work well together. Many people understand this and yet too often people think any 2 photos will do the trick.  Below I am going to post good and bad examples of pups that could be added to a single project. In reality only one doggy duo is for an actual client project. The other images were taken from a stock photo site and yet they are good "bad" examples of the types of pics people do send us.
BAD COMBO #1 ( above)
The pup to the left was shot at eye level, while the pup to the right was shot from above, this will look goofy once I erase the background and add them to the same layout.

BAD COMBO #2 ( above)
The pup to the left is lounging and the pup to the right is working out, these shots would be very hard to combine in a portrait that would make any sense.

GOOD COMBO #1 ( above)
Beemer and Oscar are both lounging and shot at eye level, they are even lounging like perfect bookends. These photos will work great together in one portrait layout.

GOOD COMBO #2 ( above)
Beemer and Oscar are both lounging here and yet sitting up slightly. These images are going to work great in one layout. These pups are for a new commission and I can not wait to get started on it. Not only are the poses great the original images sent over are high in resolution ... a double bonus!

Photo Tips for when you can shoot for your project:
• Shoot your pets in similar poses. 
• If possible shoot in similar lighting ( not 100% necessary)
• Shoot your pets on the same day and review your photos to check for consistency

*Often we are working with images of pets that have passed and in these cases we just want the very best well focused images we can get. I always do my best to work with any images sent in. The guidelines here are for people that have the ability to shoot new photographs for their project.

We are starting to get holiday orders in and now is the time to think about Christmas! I will be adding new photo tips to the blog each week, so check back.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

English Bulldog art

"Cam & Lola" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /
We are printing and stretching a few pet portraits today including Cam & Lola. I love Lola's one blue eye ... very cool.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mosaic Monday / In My Backyard ( almost )

White Rock Lake
( ok ... not really my backyard )

I live in a tiny 1948 bungalow in old East Dallas. The best part of my home is the location. We are very close to White Rock Lake and we take the pups there every weekend. I often refer to the lake as "my backyard" because it is a short walk and an even shorter drive from our neighborhood. The lake encompasses a large area with many wooded trails and a lot of nice sidewalk areas. Several months ago I discovered a lovely spot along the shoreline with mosaics. The initials on the mosaic are SK, and in Dallas that usually means Sonia King, I looked it up on-line and sure enough it is one of her public projects. Yesterday afternoon we took the pups over there to get some shots to share on the blog. You can also see installation pics on Sonia's web site.

 "Our Boy Ajax Above"
Names of Patrons

I was rather perturbed to discover that someone had tagged the work with graffiti.  I'll have to ask my teacher what will remove it and try to get back over there soon with sponge and cleaner to remove the vandalism. I usually have no problem with graffiti on train cars, metal fencing or other boring surfaces, but it is like a knife in the eyeball when you see it on someone's beautiful mosaic work.  I guess that is a risk with any outdoor public project in a large city... it is a pity.

You can see more of Sonia King's mosaics at

Friday, October 08, 2010

Flash Back Friday/ My Greeting Card Days

© rebecca lansdowne

Back in the mid 90's I worked as an independent hand made greeting card designer. The other day I found a stack of my old cards. For about 5 years I created a wide range of lines, working in a huge variety of themes. Each season we had to come up with new designs and new offerings for the Stationery show in New York.  That early business taught me a lot about production, I bought my first computer back then and I learned how to promote my work. I think my ability to work quickly with new ideas and design a dozen or more cards in one sitting has helped me with both my pet portraiture and my mosaic work. 

Sometimes I miss my card days, and when I think back it is more the camaraderie I had with other card designers that I miss most. My best friend at the time was a local card designer and we had a lot of fun working on our own lines with each other's help and support.  It was a friendship based on competition, mutual respect and constant support.
I have been following a terrific blog by a handmade card artist named Kate Harper. She has great advice for card artists and artists in general. Check out Kate Harper's blog.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Good Bye To Big Tommy

Big Tommy 2000 - 2010

Our Big headed Scottie left us last night for the rainbow bridge. Tommy was a singer, a ball player, he loved the water and he was our Alpha. His last two weeks with us were strong and joyful. He did not suffer and he died at home on his own terms.   When we first adopted Tommy in 05 Dan would often refer to him as a dog in a Scottie suit and yet his strong terrier spirit was never more obvious than in his last hour. Thanks to all that have been holding him in their hearts these past two weeks, your love and support has meant the world to us.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Mosaic Monday/ Broken Glass

New Work In Progress

Last week I broke one of my favorite vintage drinking glasses. It bummed me out that I was so clumsy, however I quickly consoled myself by adding it to my mosaic stash. I have started on this dapper fellow, and the print on this glass is looking really cool on his face. The yellow area will be filled in with a light lime green glass. He was going to be a dod trading card, but I am loving him so much I may have to add him to a larger piece. 

This morning I got an e-mail from an old pal that is new to mosaics and he was crabbing about the higher cost he paid at an on-line shop I had referred him to for a tool that he later found at a hardware store for less.  It made me stop and think about mosaics in general and the amount of money I have spent on supplies to support my hobby. You can spend a fortune growing your mosaic stash, and I have along with most of my pals spent a good amount of money on materials, but mosaic work can really be as affordable as you want to make it. Thrift stores have tons of cool dishes for as little as a quarter that you can smash and nip into tessera. I often find rusted washers on the street that I pick up to save for my robot series.  If you let your friends and family know what type of materials you like to use they will often start saving stuff to give you for your work. If tile is your thing you can also find great deals on seconds and if you know a contractor or other people in construction you can develop good relationships with folks that will cheaply sell or give you their left overs when a project is done.

I have heard about folks finding great deals on mosaic supplies by watching craigs list and sometimes good stuff will turn up at garage sales. Sometimes you can even find people liquidating a large supply of glass or tile when they decide to either abandon mosaics or move on to new materials.

If you are a mosaic person reading this please leave a comment and share your favorite cheap resource for supplies, or your favorite found objects that you use on your work.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Flash Back Friday/ Self Portrait 1980

"Rebecca Lansdowne /  Self Portrait 1980"
© rebecca lansdowne

Lately I have been finding old artwork stuffed in drawers, and this little jewel was retrieved from the attic last week when I was looking for clip art books to loan to a friend.  This is from my senior year in high school, and yes that is me with my Farrah Fawcett hair under a black derby. I use to love to draw, and I had forgotten how much I liked shading. Somewhere in college I discovered "line" and I sort of abandoned realistic shading and tight renderings. Today I much prefer contour drawings and loose quick sketches.  
At 48 I find that it is fun to look back at where I have been with my art. I was 17 in the self portrait above and so I guess I can say I have been an artist for well over 31 years. One of my classmates asked my teacher once "when do you get to a place where you call yourself an artist". When I heard that question, I thought about it and realized I can not recall a time when I did not consider myself an artist.  Other roles in life such as wife, daughter, aunt, manager, student, teacher, well ...  those roles are less intuitive and take thoughtful concentrated effort, not that they are hard, but they do take a lot more thought and effort to be outside yourself a bit in order to show up well, and be truly giving.  The role of the artist is often one of pure, self-absorbed "id", and I guess that is why it is like breathing air for me.  I can not imagine life without art.