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.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why Do We Love Bulldogs So much?

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

Why oh why do we all adore Bulldogs so much? Clients tell me they drool, snore, fart and have to be grown like delicate hot house orchids with high vet bills and a host of breed specific health issues .... but still, who can resist their smushed faces and personalities that are as varied as the day is long.  I will have a bulldog puppy some day, I don't know when, but I know that I will be owned by this breed eventually. They are one of the few non-terrier breeds that I really do covet.

Franklin looks like a young pup to me in this photo. He is such a handsome guy. This photo was a real joy to play with. The glow eye was minor and easy to fix. The coat detail and lighting on this shot was perfect. I always enjoy working with informal shots of pups with bones or toys.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Valentino The Mastiff

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

This handsome boy was proofed yesterday and we already have an approval so he is shipping out today. When approvals come in quickly the final artwork usually ships fast too.

About The Art:
In the original photograph this boy's ears were not overly perky. The client had sent several pics and so I  was able to snag some ears from a different photo and warp them on to this shot. I really adored Valentino's  pose in this shot as it really shows off how noble he is ... the ear fix was rather simple since I have done this type of alteration many times. The other tweak that I think really helped this image was adding a white highlight to the eyeball to the left, in the original photo that eye was really hiding. I hope to do more Mastiffs in the future, they are really stunning animals, and Mr. Valentino has stolen my heart.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Painting Eyes For Hank

Today I worked on enhancing and painting in some sparkle on Hank's eyes. This adorable pup is no longer with his humans and so I am working with grainy cell phone images that we have access to. I always crab when I have to work with lower quality images, but the reality is that I sort of like the challenge and especially when it is an important memorial project. Over the years I have gotten pretty good at working with what I have and painting in missing detail when needed.   Below is a sneak peek of Hank in progress, I have lots more work to do before I will be able to proof my client. Hank reminds me so much of my best friend's pup Bella. She lost her Bella last year.

( above) Hank's eyes after some work on the wacom tablet
( above) Hank's original eye detail
(above) Original photo
"Hank" In progress Sketch
© rebecca collins /

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mosaic Monday/ Italy

Well I had a restful weekend and this morning I finally sat down to empty out my camera cards. I have tons of great shots from Italy. It will take me weeks to edit and sort through them all. Today I will post just a small handful.

In Italy we saw .........
Many Old Mosaics

 and we saw....
New Mosaics
We saw pretty brides
We saw laundry in Venice......
We saw all types of dogs and graffiti
We saw bikes in Ravenna 
We saw cool old doors

On our last night we roamed the property that our hotel was on near the airport and we picked up pottery shards that were mixed in with the gravel so we could come home with some "found tessera" to create a mosaic with.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Italy/ Doors, Dogs and Graffitti

I am home from my travels and have tons of pictures to sort through of Dogs, Doors and Graffitti. I traveled with a very experienced group of gals that have been abroad tons of times. I have no sense of direction in general so I clung pretty closely to my pals and I greatly appreciate all of their expertise. I am greatly inspired by the ancient mosaics I saw and by my fearless friends in general. Six of us took a class at Orsoni in Venice and 4 of us went on to Ravenna for the Mosaic festival there. I learned so much about travel and about Italy and mosaics.  I am so lucky to have had this opportunity to study mosaics abroad.  I am back at my desk today and ready to get caught up and get back to pet portraiture.

Below are just a few of my snapshots from Italy. I will be creating a set over at smugmug and also Flickr just as soon as I have time to edit and fine tune my photos. Thanks so much to Becky, Judy, Joyce, Leian and Tricia for showing me the ropes of world travel, and thanks to Dan, Kris and Lola for holding down the fort here at Art Paw.

No two doors are identical in Venice or Ravenna

There was lots of Graffitti in both Venice and Ravenna. Most was simple boring tagging, but some like this wall had a bit more color. One of my pals suggested I figure out what they say before posting, I do not have time to figure out the translation so my apologies if the words are offensive. I will have a large set over at flickr next week of graffitti and also interesting signage.

 There were tons of happy well cared for pups in Venice and I will have a much longer blog post about them next week.
 By the time we got to Ravenna I was getting tired of doors and Graffitti so I started shooting people and also bikes. The shot below shows a modern bike however I also have some cool shots of colorful vintage metal bikes with baskets. Most of the bikes in Ravenna were older and everyone used them to get around this small tourist town. When I go back with Dan I think we will rent some bikes and be able to cover more ground quickly that way.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


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

This is Cecilia! We love her coat texture and the hair that runs down her nose. She's quite a beauty.