Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Contest For Free Pet Portrait!

April is national poetry month. I am holding a month long contest and will be giving away a 16 x 20 custom pet portrait. To enter you have to become an Art Paw fan on facebook and post your original poem about dogs or cats on my face book wall.  My husband Dan is a poet and the contest is his idea so he is going to be the juror.

We are looking for:
Your original work
Your poem does not have to rhyme although it can.
All forms welcome, only restriction is facebook posting size of 420 characters or less.

To enter and read the month long submissions please join us on facebook!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Portrait For Sweet Watson

"Watson" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
"Watson" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
So many clients and their pets just melt my heart. Earlier this month a client e-mailed me and asked if I could do a one eyed dog. She said that "Although Watson was the best dog in the universe, he wasn’t the most attractive (as far as dog standards go.) He only had one eye and it was blinded by a large cataract".  I think Watson was a stunning boy and I don't care too much about "dog standards".  What matters to me is a pup's story and life, I have a hunch that this guy had a pretty good life filled with love. His story is seen in his proud stance and in his face ... what a strong little character. Check out the original photo below and I think you will agree with me that this guy was lucky to live in a family with sweetness and love all around him. Wow.

Watson, I know you are missed sweet boy and I hope that your portrait will bring comfort to your humans.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mosaic Monday / Tree Of Life

"Tree Of Life Mosaic"
8x10 / © rebecca collins
I have kind of always wanted to do a tree in mosaic.  Every time I think about doing one I then remind myself that so many amazing trees have already been done in mosaic and I ask myself what can I possibly add to the conversation on trees?  Then my Mother-n-law and Father-n-law had a 60th wedding anniversary coming up and I wanted to create a small mosaic for them. They have a huge family and are very in to the whole family tree - genealogy thing. So I though what better subject than a tree for them. Each of the initials in the tree are for one of their kids. I did not do an initial or piece of glass for each grandchild and great grand child in their life because I sort of wanted to finish it in my lifetime. Under the orange glass border are words describing them as a couple. I asked their kids for 5 adjectives each and used their words to add more personalization to the work.  I gave it to them this weekend at a huge party the kids threw for them ... they really loved it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

High Volume Pet Portrait Studio

Yipes ... did that blog title get your attention? To say that Art Paw is a high volume pet portrait studio sounds like I am bragging, but the reality of it keeps me awake sometimes at night. I woke up feeling very overwhelmed. I have a fun family weekend ahead and I'm feeling very bad because I have work undone. The reality is if you are running a successful business of any kind you will always have work undone. To be totally caught up and waiting on new orders is not really where you want to be in life although I do think I will reach that mythical place some day.

So to face the day I had to get my head around just how many people are waiting on pet portrait proofs and thought I would share next week's adorable doggy line up with you.  If you are one of these folks waiting on proofs please sit tight, I am working as fast as I can and still trying to maintain a slow enough pace to do the quality of work that I want to do.  I love all of these guys and do not want to rush through anybody's artwork. When you factor in stretching, shipping and client e-mails every project takes a minimum of 4 hours each and some projects can take days depending on the original photo quality and any needed changes.

Projects that I will be starting on very soon are shown below.  As you can see most of the pics have been cleaned up, backgrounds erased and photos optimized ( thanks Lola ).
The clients that have been proofed so far this month are shown below. Most have shipped however a few have been sent into design revisions.  It looks like I may average around 20 pet portrait projects this month. That is very good, a slower month may look more like 12 or 15. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lilac, Kiwi, Cinnamon?

35 x 54
© rebecca collins /
This adorable Golden Doodle is Beija and I will be working on additional design updates for this pup later today. This bright and colorful project will be shipping out rolled to England just as soon as I can  nail down all the needed changes. I am reworking the tail a bit and trying to rework the bedding with an interesting texture and a more Lilac color. Below is what I was thinking might work for Lilac.
35 x 54
© rebecca collins /

• So what is the difference between Lilac, Periwinkle and Lavender?
• How about Cinnamon and Pumpkin?
• How about Kiwi green and Lime green?

When I sent my client soft update proofs last night she requested more lilac bedding options, and I was not sure at all if the Lilac in her mind was matching the Lilac in my mind. I was not even sure if I knew what Lilac was since I do not use that adjective much. I am much more likely to say the words Lavender, Plum or Periwinkle when talking about shades of purple.  So .... what to do?  I remembered my favorite on-line color tool : I sent her a link to the search results for Lilac and also sent her the screen shot above.  With over 67 very different page results for Lilac on that site I realized I was not the only one with a different idea of hue.

None of the results were exactly what she had in mind but she did send me a color swatch she found on a fabric shopping site that I can use as a reference .... yay! Problem solved quickly.

Working With Color:I am a total color junkie and sometimes I find myself working with a client that is also really into color and can talk with me about cool hues, warm hues, muddy colors, acidic colors and more. Just because a client may have a sophisticated design sense and the ability to talk color does not mean that words alone are going to get you to connect about specifically what is in their head. When the client is far away, like in England and a studio visit is not possible make the most of on-line tools to get on the same page when talking about color. In addition  to you might try paint websites such as Sherwin Williams where they let you download color palettes.  I just noticed they also have an interactive tool that lets you upload a pic of your living room and then it will show you what different colors will look like in the room ... I will be trying that out very soon.

Color Tips For Digital Artists:
Residential clients do not have Pantone books so use on-line tools to talk color.
Always explain that the colors they see on their monitor will not match the print 100%.

Also advise about the difference between desktop print outs and your final canvas print. I have 3 office printers and they all print color differently, none of them come close to matching the colors on the large format printer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sam Kitty / New Cat Portrait

"Sam" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins

It has been a very busy week so far. I have proofed around 5 clients and worked on a few updates. I really enjoyed working on this cute kitty named Sam. His ears were cropped off so I used the clone tool and finger painting tool to create some ear tips.  I have some tame offerings in his proofing set but I really like the crazy color on this proof.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mosaic Monday: Piece Love And Smalti

 Local Mosaic artist Barbara Dybala has become a new distributor for smalti from China.  When she was organizing her business and getting the new shopping website started she decided to name the smalti colors and lines after mosaic artists and so she put a shout out to people in the mosaic community wanting to have a color named after them. Since I am a total color junkie I jumped on that opportunity and my color is PM8009 Plum DandyYou can order the Plum Dandy Mix on their website and try out their very well priced tessera.  My mix is at the bottom right corner of the screen shot below.... go on ... you know you need some! Save 10% in March.

Piece Love and Smalti

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Wag your tail if your Irish!
And wear your green.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Good Bye To Bella

©2004 rebecca collins/

This is a pet portrait I did way back in 2004 for a member of my own "extended" doggy pack. Bella belongs to my best friend and it is with much sadness that we have had to say goodbye to her today. Bella was an amazing athlete and watching her catch her frisbee in mid air was like watching an Olympic event. She will be playing with Big Tommy soon at the rainbow bridge. This has been a very rough past year, way too many people I care about have lost their pets. It just never gets easier to experience this sort of grief first hand or to watch others go through it.  Bella you were the best girl ever and I was so lucky to have you in my life. The Scotties will miss you. Nobody will ever catch the disc as well as you did.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jax New Dog art

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

New artwork for the Lazy Dog Restaurant Chain in California.  This is Jax and he is a total cutie pie.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pet Portrait Clients

Kendahl  -  Stella
Justin & Amanda - Myra & Pinky
Kendahl  -  Stella
Thanks to Deb for Sending us these great shots this month of her cute grown up kiddos with their Art Paw Pet Portraits from the last holiday season.  I love seeing these in home shots .... keep them coming and I'll keep posting.

From e-mail:
"Hi Rebecca! 
Finally, I’m emailing you pictures of our children, their dogs and portraits that you perfectly did for us!  It was a Christmas to remember!
Thank you!
Deb & Robert Brown"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ella The German Shepherd

"Ella" ( see all proofs)
This is Miss Ella. She shipped out last week. I am very busy with new commissions. I know I said I was taking this month off to work on the website, but it looks like that is not going to be happening just yet.  People keep ordering pet portraits ( Yay!)  .... and for the most part they are ordering pretty large projects ( YAY, YAY!!).... I do love working on the larger prints.  Soooo, look for the website changes and the new pricing structure to happen sometime in early April. Now really is the time to get an order in and lock down the 2010 pricing.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Mosaic Monday/ New Personal Projects

Leg Milagro Mosaic Work In progress
© rebecca collins

I have a couple of new mosaic projects started. Above is personal piece with china doll legs for friends that are either having, have had, or will have leg/foot related surgery. There is also a general prayer or wish for safe travels this fall for myself and my mosaic sisters as we journey to Italy to study mosaics there. This is a 2 inch deep cradle board and the sides have hand written wishes or prayers & hopes for these people. They are identified by nicknames such as the Chicken Lady, the Sky walker and so on. The doll legs are not glued down yet. The written words are very subtle, almost vanishing below the glass, but they are there and they do mean a lot to me.  I have never been one to enjoy saying my prayers out loud in a group so the fact that the words are almost hidden sort of suits my own spirituality. The right side still needs a lot of work and it will have tiles about the same size as the green to the left, but it will be all in grey hues with a tiny shot of pink. This project is for a show I will be in later this fall with Katrina Doran and Apryl Begay. The show ( Tres Milagros) is all about Milagros and we are going to try to have around 14 projects each in order to fill up the gallery space. We have a lot of work to do and many projects planned out in our heads, including a book about the show.

And now ....for something totally new .... drum roll please:)
I am also starting on my first 3-d piece! Below is a shot of my robot form. He still needs arms. He is going to be a robot walking a robot doggy. He is about 18 inches tall I think. He will be covered in paint, glass, rubber washers ... whatever sort of goodies I can find to stick on him. The hole in his tummy is for an old vacume tube like they had in TV's and radios in the old days. He is Styrofoam covered in white thinset.  I have been avoiding 3-d work for ages.  My friend and mentor Katrina Doran is the queen of 3-d form making.  For the past 4 years I have watched and even video taped her large 3-d endevours for the State Fair... I have been more than happy to sit on the sidelines and record these huge ambitious works by her and her students. I have not been ready until now to try anything at all in 3-d myself. Katrina has been great to not try and push me in that direction and to just wait to see if I end up choosing it. Well ... I think I am ready ... this little fellow is pretty small, but  if he works out .... who knows? Maybe huge 3-d robot mosaics will take over my yard some day.... that would be nice.
Robot Form

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Lightroom3 and Miss Astrid

© rebecca collins
"Astrid-  Shaking"
© rebecca collins

Last December the good folks over at Adobe sent me a copy of Lightroom 3 to play around with. I really love this software and yet I have to admit I am still just in the shallow end of the pool at this point. With Lightroom 3 you can create video slideshows, contact sheets for your clients, integrate it with Flickr, achieve great results with their all new state of the art noise reduction technology ... and much much more.

What have I done so far?  Well, I am trying out a few bulk edit commands basically. This last weekend I shot Astrid and needed a real quick way to resize all the images for quick sending via e-mail .... Lightroom 3 to the rescue! Check out the quick video below to see the basic interface. If you want to try out a trial copy you can do so over at

I will try to post some better screen capture videos in the future once I learn a bit more about the program. You can use it to create Blurb books, and that is something I hope to try out very soon. The learning curve with the software is not that bad, you just have to spend some time with it. Everything I have tried to figure out with it has happened for me super fast ... the stuff I really need to discover and learn is the stuff I don't even know I need yet!  That is sort of true with most things in life though.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Eyes For Gerdie The Schnauzer

"Gerdie" ( see proofs)
© rebecca collins /

So what do you do when none of the images your client sends you has eyeballs showing on their pup? Well, I ask if they want to see a hint of an eye. Some breeds like Old English Sheep Dogs just never have their eyes showing and so there is no point in faking it. Eyes are very important and yet so is capturing the normal look of the pet. In this case the client said a little eyeball might be great if I could make it work. Sadly there is no "eyeball button" on my magic keyboard and so I had to just paint one in using the Wacom tablet. With a breed with long brows the important thing is to keep some of that original "hair-in-the-eye look",  it gives it an authenticity. See close up below.