Friday, December 30, 2011

Shipping Portraits today

"Carlos" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
Jolly Bulldogs ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
Today Lola will be coming in and we are going to get the wheels turning again on production. We have two projects to ship out and I am eager to get back to work. We blew through all of our 24 inch stretcher bars this last month so the first order of business will be getting out to the art supply store and stocking up on bars again.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My new drugs are so ugly

New drug packaging
 Ok this is totally off the topic of dog art however, can someone tell me what is up with the drug companies and why have they fired the real packaging designers? Last week I had to go get some Benadryl because Ajax got stung by a bug of some sort. I go to the store and find some horrible bright pink package that looks like it must be a fake, right? Surely someone has sold the drug store some pirated imitation drug or something. I buy it anyway and come home to look on-line and sure enough the packaging has changed. If you check out the old package below you will see that although the goofy beveled logo weenie is very 1980's at least they were trying to make an all text product interesting, you have  a lovely soft gradient thing happening in the white area. The navy on the old box is much more pleasing than the cheap bright blue on the new box. I know the weenie text boxes have been over-used for 2 decades now in graphic design, but there must be a better alternative than shocking bright pink & blue. Besides ... when your product is sort of a pill and sorta pill shaped, what is wrong with text boxes that are pill shaped?
So today I go to the store to get a cough suppressant for Dan, he is still battling a very old cold. I notice the same thing has happened with Robitussin, the new package design is very flat. They did give us a bit of  a drop shadow in one text area, but overall ...very ugly. I like the classy stripes on the older box shown below. Again the 1980's weenie text box has been ditched on the newer box. Look at the simplicity of the older box though: Robitussin Cough DM ... those were the only 3 words I needed to find this on the drug aisle. Instead of those 3 simple words I had to read about mucus, peak cold, and the pink droplet on the newer box reminded me that this stuff is going to taste horrible.
I know this is a very off-topic rant, but I have been noticing for the last year or so that graphic design on billboards and all advertising in general is getting less and less attractive. I am a weirdo and I love advertising when it is done well. I know what is happening, the big wigs are ready to ditch the over-used design gimmicks like drop shadows, weenie text boxes, glow, gradients and so on but they really do not have a plan for what should replace those effects. Ok tomorrow I will get back to posting more dog art ... maybe a Doxie ... you thought I was going to say weenie again didn't you?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prada The Pug

Well Christmas is over and I am officially worn out. I slept until 10:00 this morning. Lola was going to come in today and we were going to get back to work, however she came down with a bad cold and I decided that taking a little time off would not hurt either one of us. I am answering e-mails and checking phone messages ... it will be Friday before we start printing and shipping again. We do still have a few folks to ship that ordered late in the game after holiday deadlines. Many clients actually preferred to do proofing only so their loved ones could choose their favorite proof.

I will start posting some of the holiday projects this week. Now that Christmas is over there is no chance of ruining any surprises by adding projects to the blog.

"Prada The Pug" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Prada is a real cutie pie and the only Pug I worked on this holiday season. I love working on smushed faced pups ... so much texture and detail on their wrinkled faces to play with!

"Lexie" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
This pretty cow dog was a memorial portrait project. Her Moms turned out to be neighbors that live just a few blocks away from us. I always love it when local clients find me on the web.  Lexie's original photo was pretty good however the eye to our left was lost in a dark patch of black. I was able to lighten that area up enough to see her pretty brown eyes.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

"Big Tommy"
© rebecca collins /

I still love this holiday card from last year. Big Tommy was just the best boy ever.
This year we did not have time to design and send out holiday cards. We did however finish our orders and today was a very short one. I took Lola to lunch and we talked about the things that worked well for us this season and the things we need to improve upon. She gave me an adorable felted Scottie brooch that I will shoot and post soon.

What a quiet day it is. The phone has stopped ringing and even the e-mail has slowed down.  Soon I too will figure out how to slow down for just a few days. Tomorrow I celebrate 13 years of happy marriage. I wish we could get a little freezing drizzle like we had on our wedding night 13 years ago.... that would be kinda nice. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Almost done!

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

Mason is shipping out later today, I enjoyed working on this pretty boy. The above sample is the one my client chose, and I love that colorful wooden background, I created it from an old door I shot in Italy this year.  I proofed Mason back on the 6th I think, sometimes folks need a little extra time to choose.  I really like the one she picked.

As of today I think I can officially state that everyone that ordered by posted deadlines and approved one of their provided samples will have shipped. Yay! I have 2 clients to provide updates on and that will happen this weekend.  I have not really had a day off yet this month, but I will be taking one day off next week to get my own holiday shopping done. I am looking forward to that.

4 more late orders to proof and I will be officially done with creating digital portraits for the month.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tips For Shopping Art on-line and off

This year I started my Christmas shopping very early for Dan and started buying on Etsy and also from one of our favorite print makers and painters. So many people are trying harder and harder to avoid Kmart and Target and instead support small business owners and independent artists.  With that said, many still wait till the very last minute to get on-line and shop and they also tend to expect factory style big-box service from smaller providers. This year I bought a small assortment of inexpensive stocking stuffers for Dan from Etsy, and if one item is late, I am not really going to loose sleep over it. Actually one gift item is taking forever, and it is totally my dumb... it is shipping from Malaysia after all. It is just a tiny little $4 item so no, I am not going to message the seller in a frenzy and ask for tracking ... it will arrive when it arrives.

Here is my top 7 List For Shopping with Independent Artists:

#1 Try to find local sales events where you can have the fun of meeting and talking with the artist in person.

#2 When shopping on-line try to start early.

• #3 Etsy Tip:  Check out their left hand menu at the bottom and under ways to shop choose "Shop Local", enter your zip code and buy from folks in your area ... your items will arrive quickly.

#4 If you are buying just one important gift for your spouse or relative, be sure and buy with enough shipping time factored in ... when in doubt ask if you can purchase overnight or 2-day delivery. Once an item leaves the artist's studio they are not in control as to how fast it gets delivered.

#5 If you are buying a lot of stuff on-line for people do yourself a favor and in order to stay organized print out an image of each item you buy. Just print the browser window and place it in a file folder.  Then if a package does go missing at the very least you can wrap that photo-image up in a comically over-sized box and tell your recipient that their gift is on its way.

#6 There are tons of talented and organized artists out there that are hustling very hard right now to fill holiday orders for people. Remember that they are usually just one person handling shipping, e-mail, creating the product and so on ... cut them some slack and if they do not reply to an e-mail right away know that it is probably because they are either creating art, shipping art, or trying to collect payment for their art.

#7 Pat yourself on the back and know that in addition to purchasing an original handmade item you are supporting the arts!

Ok, last blog post from me until Friday when I hope to report that Art Paw's holiday shipping is done. I will not be answering the phone for 48 hours so leave a message. My blinders are on and I am in the home stretch .... going to get November clients shipped and all the late after posted deadline people proofed this week.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I adore Post It notes!

Later today I plan to get out and catch some art sales. Right now I am working on project updates .... and it just dawned on me how much I love post it notes.  When an order comes in I place it on the calendar and place a post it note with a date on it and then with a magnet I  place it on the metal project board. If it ends up needing changes ... it gets another post it note... if it is pending payment ... another post it note.

 For awhile Whitman had a bad habit of pilfering them off my desk and chewing them up.... so I went to the kitchen and grabbed a little coffee mug to store them in.  I really like the hot pinks ones best.

Below is a fun video on other less productive, yet more creative uses for post its.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Deck the Halls with Pet Portraits!!

Wow, it is only the 8th and so far this month I have proofed many many clients.  Tomorrow I have 2 more clients to proof and I will end this week having proofed every client that placed their holiday portrait order by my posted deadline of 11/30.  In reading back through last year's December posts it looks like I am at about the same exact same place in terms of production and proofing.

Once I get everyone handled that ordered early I will be able to look at the newer projects that are slipping in through the shopping cart. All orders that are placed after this weekend will be proofing only holiday projects with actual prints shipping after Christmas time. It is actually a lot of fun to let your recipient pick their favorite proof. Many people are not aware when they order just how many proofs I will provide them with, I promise 10 samples and often I go beyond that. 

• Below is sample proofing page and what you will be able to show your loved one if you let them pick their favorite proof for a delivery in January. One client told me that since he can't choose he will be printing out his proofing page from his browser window and he will place it in a greeting card.

Local Dallas Clients, that do not require shipping have until next Monday to nail down there late orders with me. Art Paw Gift Certificates are also a great option, and then you don't have to hustle to find that perfect snapshot to submit!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Oscar on the wall

If you think you don't possibly have room for an Art Paw custom pet portrait, think again .... I just love this in-home shot an old client sent me today of her German Shepherd Oscar. This is a gal after my own heart. We tend to stack our art from floor to ceiling at home and Lisa is just as creative here with an above the door placement.  Who says art has to go over the mantle anyway?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Deadline is Today!

I am going over my list and I am checking it twice. I know that most of my four legged clients have probably been both "naughty and nice" this last year .... anyway my own dogs have been.  I am eager to get everyone that has ordered proofed as quickly as possible, while still maintaining a close attention to detail.

You have until midnight tonight to fill out an order form on-line and place your holiday pet portrait order. Once you fill out your form just e-mail your pet photos to

If you sent us pics last month sometime and never filled out a form and finalized your project order, I will be sorting through all those pending projects on Friday and I will be e-mailing everyone letting them know what we need to do on our end to get them placed on the project board. Lisa and Mike, you guys are both repeat clients so don't worry, you are totally on the board and I will invoice you later.

If you want to see where you are at on the proofing calendar just click here.
Allow me 24 hours to manually update the calendar once your order is placed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Pet Portrait Mickey and Pal

"Mickey" ( see all Proofs)
© rebecca collins/

"Mickey" ( see all Proofs)
© rebecca collins/

 Is Mickey cute or what? I love his little bear pal. I gave the bear an eyeball and with his empty headed grin and doll-stare he seems to make Mickey look even more alive. Look at that possessive paw holding on to bear! I love it.

Have not been blogging much lately. We are starting to get really swamped with pet portrait orders. Our cut off date for new orders with a holiday delivery is tomorrow at midnight.  I will still take just a few orders in December however we can not 100% promise a holiday delivery when clients order past the posted deadlines.  I can promise proofing, but not delivery when your order is placed after 11/30.  Every year I kill myself working right up to December 23rd, and this year I am just going to have to be strict about my posted deadlines. 

Holiday Deadlines are very important because:
• If the post office drops the ball we have time to reprint and reship.
• If our e-mail messages end up in your spam folder we have time to track you down by phone to get your proof approval.
• If clients need a minor color change I have time to go back in and make that change.
• When clients send low resolution pics that will not work they have time to search for higher resolution more workable photographs to submit.
• Ultimately holiday deadlines are important because Art Paw has one artist in charge and one very talented shipping and stretching expert. E-mail alone can eat up half of my day.

Please just go easy on us and place your pet portrait order by 11/30/11.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Looking Back

Wow, looking back at last year's pet portraits in November and we did 41 projects. We are a bit behind that marker this year with only around 30 projects slated for this month so far. I always like to compete against myself, but you know I am more than happy with the work we have in-house right now. We have some great pets lined up and I am very excited about them all. We even have 2 kitty projects in the works and that beats last November's feline numbers.... yay for the kitties! Meow baby.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Organizing all day!

Wow, spent the entire day organizing some new portrait projects and many pending projects.  It looks like my sbcglobal e-mail is on the fritz again .... arrrrg, so I am back to using

When it comes to commissioning a pet portrait lots of folks like to just shoot me quick pics to get the ball rolling on a portrait project and that is cool, but do keep in mind I love to have a real order form filled out ( it keeps me organized, and sane) and that can easily be done by following this link:
When you go through the shopping cart process you don't even have to pay at the end, you can choose pay later by phone as an option.  I will call you to take your payment details by phone. I will need at least a 50% deposit to get started if you are a new Art Paw client.

This weekend I will be working on a few commissions at once, getting many pups and kitties started. Next week I will spend more time with each project giving each the time it needs. Tonight however I get to play and go to a poetry reading and I am excited about that. My husband has a whole different set of pals than I do because of his work with the Writers Garrett here in Dallas. I really enjoy going to their events.

Kitty Sneak Peek
I see you

If you have sent me pics and are waiting for a proofing e-mail please do know that I need your full order details to get started. If you have been sent a proofing date then relax, you are on the board. If you are a repeat client, don't worry we will figure things out and we can work loosely with you by e-mail, but first time clients need to give me their shipping and billing details.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tick Tock Baby!

I just posted my Holiday deadlines on the website  ... it is going to be the end of the month 11/30. I will take pet portrait orders until the end of November with a promise of a holiday delivery. After that time I will do what I can with all of the late orders that trickle in, however prepaid orders that were made by posted deadlines will have top priority treatment.  Click Here To Place your Order Today!

We do a lot of projects for spouses, but consider buying for the kiddo's bedrooms too!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mosaic Monday/ Field Trip

Sunday I went out to Rockwall to visit Barbara Dybala and check out her large scale mosaic mural project.  They say everything is bigger in Texas and this gal really has a Texan "can do attitude".  She is covering her 3 story studio in tile and smalti. If you want to be a part of the fun know that Barb is offering free classes on large scale mosaics. At first when I heard about it I thought what a clever way to get your "fence painted Huck Finn".  After just 20 minutes of listening to her orientation I realize she has an amazing wealth of info and she is as generous as she can possibly be with her knowledge. I learned so  much about efficiency and production when tackling something on this scale. Barbara studied under Isaiah Zagar and uses many of his techniques.

There is still time to get in on the fun and it really is fun. The space she is creating is magical. Check out her website for more info.  This is the last week of open classes so don't miss out!

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Background Patterns/ Photoshop

When I travel I take pictures of textures and patterns because I know I may have the chance later to incorporate them into a piece of digital art. I created a few new Background patterns this week with some pics I took in Italy. Check out Fluffy's artwork below and then check out my photographs that I used for the background design.

"Fluffy" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
The wooden texture above was taken from the door image below

Italy Door
© rebecca collins 
"Fluffy" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
I knew when I saw this iron work in Italy that it had to be used in an Art Paw background pattern. When you shoot photographs to use as texture and pattern in your artwork you do not always need to use the entire photo, you never know what tiny bit of texture is going to be just what you need to give your digital art a real world patina. Digital art can often tend to have a plastic or overly smooth texture, by using real world images in my art I feel like I am giving my work a gritty realness.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Busy With Pet Portrait Orders

We are rocking and rolling here, creating art every day. Life is good, Lola is working 3 days a week now, and the e-mail issues have been resolved. I am ready for the pet portrait orders to start flowing in more and more each week. Will post some new artwork soon.

Keep in Mind When Ordering A Portrait:
Best time to order a pet portrait for Christmas is NOW.
We need 2 main things to start on your project
• a high quality photo ( 500kb or larger)
• payment

Call me if you have any questions ... it is toll free: 888-225-427. I would love to talk to you.

Me & Lola (Sept.)

Lola and her baby Zitna
My Boy Whitman

Saturday, November 05, 2011

E-mail problems

Attention Clients and potential clients: please use the e-mail
if you are trying to reach me this next week. My Yahoo mail account is acting weird. Bad timing. Hope to get it resolved very soon.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Holiday Pet Portrait Deadline

Order by November 21st 
To get my best unhurried creative work

Well it is that time of year again and the holidays are here.  Each November I get nervous and excited about all of the holiday orders that will come in.  I always post a holiday deadline and people usually ignore it and keep ordering anyway.  Keep in mind that when you order from Art Paw I will be the one creating your custom artwork and there is only one of me.  Lola is totally amazing this time of year and she will be optimizing photos by cleaning the backgrounds and she will be shipping and stretching all of the portraits. 

Early next week I will be posting my official cut off dates for the holidays. Right now it looks like November 21st will be the soft deadline, that will go on the calendar. If you have been thinking about ordering now is the time.

We will be proofing with password protected gallery pages starting today in order to avoid ruining any holiday surprises. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mosaic Monday/ We Love Mary Engel

Phil, 23 x 14 x 8 in.
by Mary Engel

by Mary Engel

Inspired by Southern memory jars, Mary Engels's mosaic work is wonderfully encrusted with all kinds of objects. On her website she states; " For me, the animal image symbolizes a bridge between the rational world of humans and the instinctual world of nature."  She also creates bronze sculptures that are cast from her original mosaic work. She has a well designed easy to navigate site so check her out and add her to your list of favorites:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Review / I'm Not The biggest Bitch in this Relationship

Back in September I was sent a copy of a terrific book to review by the publicist for "I'm not the biggest Bitch in this Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales About Man's Best Friend from America's Favorite Humorists. Edited by Wade Rouse, this collection of 21 original short essay is just hysterical.  I read it coming home from Italy on the plane and have been telling everyone I know about it. When I got home I started reading a few of the essays out loud to Dan at night while he cooks dinner.  I will probably be buying a few extra copies to hand out to my dog loving pals at Christmas.  Keep in mind that 50% of the royalties will be donated to the Humane Society of the US.  If you ever feel like you are just a wee bit obsessed or crazy about your 4 legged family members these writers will make you realize that you are not alone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feather and Shard

Just got in from a late dog walk. I picked up a stunning jet black feather and a black pottery shard on my walk. In college we always had some sort of design or sculpture class where the assignment would be to incorporate "found objects" into an art project.  I always enjoyed those assignments.  After school I started working long hours in retail to pay my bills and I had 2 cats so I sort of retired into myself and into my apartment for a decade or longer. When I was not working I was home or playing with friends, I did not make much art in my 20's.  When I married Danny in my mid 30's I became a bit of a dog person, started walking the pups and so here I am again, out in the world and picking stuff up off the street.

I dunno if these will go into an art project, but they are so lovely. What have you found on your dog walks lately?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mosaic Monday/ Happy Endings

This afternoon I am really missing Italy. When I arrived home a week ago I discovered that some things were missing from my luggage, the entire suit case looked like mockingbirds had been pecking through it, things were very much  in disarray. A few jewelry trinkets that I had purchased as gifts were gone, but more important than that was my sketch book. The sketchbook can not be replaced as there were some original simple drawings that I had done of pups that are gone from our lives.

So my luggage had been rifled through at the airport.  Hmmm, well I figured it was a lesson learned, end of story, life goes on. This morning I got a wonderful e-mail from a very kind lady that tracked me down via Orsoni where we had taken classes and she had my agenda and certificate of course completion she said. I knew that I had the certificate and book together in one location so I quickly e-mailed her back and asked her if there had been a  sketch book with the paperwork. Sure enough she did have the sketch book and she will be mailing these things back to me.  Her luggage had been rifled through too and I guess when they were putting things back in cases they just threw things here and there.  I am really touched that this wonderful person took the time to track me down. This happy ending is making me miss Italy so very much and the warmth of the people there.

So today I will post a few more random Italy snapshots and end with a digital scan of one of the doggy sketches that will be coming home to me soon.

Big Tommy Sketch 12/25/08
© rebecca collins
This sketch is just a simple line drawing but it really captured my boys big ears and the curve of his big ol' head.  The glow ball reference is about a specific glow in the dark ball toy he had received that Christmas.  Loosing this drawing even temporarily has reminded me how much I need to get back into the habit of drawing each day.

Life is full of surprises and wonderful people will show up for you when you least expect it. I am a very fortunate woman in so many ways.  Italy was a great experience and I can not wait to go again.