Monday, January 30, 2012

Mosaic Monday / El Corazon

El Corazon Opening is next Sat. Feb 4rth ( 7-9)
Click to enlarge invitation
© rebecca collins
5 x 18 Sold
 I sold my piece for this show before the show even opened, so it gets to start out with a red dot! Zowie, and now I have a "collector" with my mosaic work.  I was meeting up with my patron yesterday at the Bath House to deliver a mosaic that she had purchased at Tres Milagros and she saw the new piece as I was taking it out of my car and decided she had to have it too. I am so very pleased that this piece is going to a great home. I am extremely fortunate to have people that support me in my art.  You can see Murmur at The Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas From Feb  4rth - March 3rd.  I am showing alongside some very talented artists.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Digital Dog Art

© rebecca collins /

Part of being a commercial artist means that sometimes you have to work with photographs that are, to say the least a little bit challenging. I crab about low resolution images and images that lack detail, and yet I always say that you learn 20 times more about Photoshop by working with lower quality images. Lower quality images mean that you really do have to literally paint in the missing details using the wacom tablet.

Kona is a stunning lab that loves the outdoors and yet the only photo my client could snag on the sly at Christmas time was a very low resolution (123K) web quality image. The photo told a great story about a day at the beach and yet Kona's eyes were absent along with any coat detail at all.
See Original pics below:

Full Original Image
enlarged detail of just the face
If I relied on filters alone to enhance this image I would end up with a different all over texture on the photograph however there would still be no eyeballs and no detail at all.... see below:

I played around with this project for a very long time, painting in eyes, brush strokes on the coat, and trying different backgrounds.
Detail of my favorite proof
© rebecca collins /
Another part of being a commercial portrait artist means letting go of your own personal preferences. My clients do not always choose the proof that is my 100% favorite. I am totally ok with that because I realize that they are responding to the proofs based on a wide variety of factors; their existing decor, memories of that beloved pet, and personal color preferences. If you scroll to the top of this post you will see my favorite proof and below is the chosen proof. I like the chosen proof a lot too, and it totally speaks to the "day at the beach story", which is a very important memory to honor. In the end that is what my work is really all about.

"Kona at the Beach"
© rebecca collins /

Friday, January 27, 2012

Flashback Friday / Old Pics

Not much to post about today. Feeling kind of sick, getting over a head cold. Monday I need to sit down with all the pending projects and place some folks on the calendar.  There are also a few projects needing design tweaks and I will get to those very soon. You guys have a great weekend.

This is me from my high school days.
I miss that car.... a 1972 Cougar Convertible
The book I have my hands on looks way too cool, the hair cut not so much.
I love old children's books from the 60's
Art from childhood. My Grandmother saved a huge stack if drawings that I did when I visited her as a child and she gave them to me when I was in my 30's. I am really glad she hung on to them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Digtal Artist Versus Digital Service provider

What is Digital Art? 
What is the difference between a digital service provider and a digital artist? 
What is art? 

Everyone has an opinion on what art is and what art is not, including me. I am a digital artist and yet I do not consider myself a "digital service provider".  I know a digital service provider's website when I see it, and I know an artist run website when I see it. My clients do not always recognize the difference and yet time and time again I hear people tell me they have shopped around all over the web and they keep coming back to my site and want to hire me because they like what they see.

I am going to do my best to respectfully describe what a digital service provider is today and how that differs from a digital artist.

Digital Service Providers:
Websites that offer canvas on demand and "photo to print" services generally speaking are run by businessmen and women that may or may not have ever taken an art class. Sometime they hire a team of graphic designers to produce the portraits they sell. Sometimes they just hire young people that know how to use the computer and then they train them in Photoshop. The work they produce is usually what I call "filter driven". This is not a bad thing and when they have great photos to start with they often produce really lovely effects. I think for the money they charge, most of the larger sites like this probably do a pretty good job and deliver what they promise. They invest a lot of money in equipment and advertising however I do not believe that they invest a lot of money or research into the actual hiring of an educated design staff. This is only an opinion, however the reason I feel this way is that when you go to the "about" section on any of these types of websites you will not see the faces of the artists or designers that produce the work. When these sites have company blogs and you click through to them you will either find that nobody is updating the blog or worse the content is nothing more than one sales pitch after another. You never get a sense of who is going to work each day and who is going to be handling your project.  Many times you will see a long list of celebrity client names on some of these sites, but nobody is bragging about the hired artists that are producing the work.

Digital Artists:
I have a fine arts degree and many digital artists do, however not all. I am actually self taught in Photoshop because I graduated college before computers were a part of every art department. So if a piece of paper does not make you a digital artist then what does? I think everyone has to answer that one for themselves, but for me the answer is simple ... pushing the boundaries and experimentation. Sometimes my work can start to feel repetitive and so I always have to remind myself to try new things in Photoshop, to look at projects from new angles and to experiment outside of work with a variety of all types of media from drawing to glass mosaics. I find my personal artwork totally fuels my excitement for my portraiture work, and vice versa.  I could say that my use of the wacom drawing tablet is what makes me a digital artist, but it is not, it is just a tool and your tools do not make you an artist. I am proud to be a digital artist and I feel blessed to have so many terrific clients that support me in my work.

The point of this post is not to totally bash digital service providers, I think most of them work really hard and are very good at what they do. They provide a fast and affordable service. If you have a stunning photograph of your pet and you just need someone to get it onto canvas for you there are tons of great options on-line and you do not need an artist to do that for you. I guess the point of this post is to start a dialogue with myself about what it is that I do, and what it is that separates my art offerings from everything else that is out there. After over reacting to a negative comment by another artist this weekend I have started thinking about my business, and why I love it and how my art is different from other digital work that is out there. Eventually I want to update my website with much better written content that will educate perspective clients about what I do. The blog is a great place to start that dialogue for myself, and not everything that rambles onto this page has to make it on to the main site ... thank goodness for that.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mosaic Monday/ Year Of The Dragon

Today begins the year of the dragon. This lovely dragon detail is by Gila Rayberg. Be sure and check out her main site over at through and You will get to see the entire dragon piece above and more of her terrific mosaic work.  My favorite series she has done are her fantasy faces.  Gila has a way with both color and Smalti. She has a playful imagination and she lets it run wild.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Flashback Friday

I have always loved drawing. Posted below are some old drawings I did when I was a kid I think I was probably 9 when I did these since Jim Croce was alive and well at the time. I am going to start doing Flashback Friday posts and dig into my past a bit with old photos and old stories. Not all will be art related, but many will be since I have been doodling and making "pictures" since I was a very small child. Eventually I want to create a time-line of the business too, and revisit my early days at Art Paw. Feeling very nostalgic today for some reason.

Jim Croce, probably copied from an album cover 1972-ish
I guess I was bored with the class assignment,
I have no idea who was sitting in front of me

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More Dog Portraits

Today I updated Baron and proofed Eli & Berkely. I got up early and got tons of stuff done by noon. Had lunch with a good pal and now I get to go on a long dog walk with Whitman. It is 7o degrees outside, just not sure if Texas is going to see any real winter this year. It is making me ready for spring. Anyway ... today's projects shown below.

"Berkeley" The Golden Retriever
( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
8x8 size (offered only on Etsy)
"Eli" The Mini Schnauzer
( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
( see all updated proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Average Day at Art Paw

Yes the holidays have officially passed and I am settling into more average days here at Art Paw.  The crazy urgency of trying to create 30 to 40 portraits a month has ended and we are back to a very normal and very healthy work flow. I just have a couple of revisions to do and 2 new pet portraits to start on this week. So what is an average day in the life of a Pet Portrait Artist?

I start my day around 8:00 when Pickle lets me know it is time to get up. After my morning Diet Coke, I leash up all 3 dogs and we go on a dog walk. On my dog walks I often pick up found objects to use later in my glass mosaic work. Now I am on a new quest and I am also picking up stuff that I can use to create texture in ceramics.
mirror & rubber washers  for mosaics, plastic shim for ceramic texture making
After the walk I take an hour to get stuff printed for Lola to stretch & ship. 
Mona Lisa & Westie prints for Amazon orders
and Yorkie Portrait that will ship today
Lola arrives at noon and we try to make Whitman sit like a gentleman before she comes in.... it half works, half of the time. He needs training.

Lola will spend 2 hours on production & shipping and then 2 hours organizing all of my digital files from Nov. & Dec. First she has to do a quick supply run because we just ran out of 14 inch bars

I will be answering e-mails today and organizing the rest of the month's work load. It is very much a boring office day for me today. There is always so much to get caught up when it comes to managing the office part if my work life. Even with boring paperwork facing me I do have the best job on the entire planet! Life is very good.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pugs Pugs Pugs

"Goober" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
Today I proofed Goober the Pug and yesterday we shipped 2 portraits with 3 puggies. It seems to be raining pugs around here. I am cool with that. I love working on Chinese Pugs ... the face wrinkles are extra fun to play with.
Recent Puggies  shown below:

"Ellie & Lucy" (see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /
"Prada" (see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mosaic Monday/ New ATC

© rebecca collins
Above is another ATC I have created for a local card swap in Feb. I have not been doing very much mosaic work so far this year, just a couple of little cards and yesterday I had a few pals over and we each worked on some unfinished projects from last year. I got back on Chip the 3-d robot fellow. I had been missing him.  I am giving myself a pass for about 6 weeks on mosaics in terms of having to work hard at it each week, and that is because I am taking 2 art classes in other areas.

I am taking ceramics with Linda Gosset, and mixed media painting with Katherine Baronet.
I decided to revisit ceramics because I was never all that good at it and I really want to get my brain to work in a new way. All artists have favorite mediums and yet I think it is important to revisit techniques and materials that you may not have as great an affinity to. Clay is that material for me.  The mixed media painting should be a lot of fun, the teacher really seems to want to discuss much more than just technique and is really concerned with having us develop a vocabulary for our art by discovering the personal symbols that we connect with. Both ladies are seasoned artists and I am so eager to learn from them. I feel like a college kid again with new classes, new classmates and of course new challenges.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Redeeming Gift Certs

It is that time of year, and lots of people are redeeming their Gift Certificates. Often folks will shoot me over a photo and their gift code and tell me they are redeeming their cert. That is a very good way to get the ball rolling, however I need to know where to ship your portrait, and what size and style your certificate was for. All of that info can easily be given to me by going through the shopping cart on-line:
At the end of the cart process you have the option to select Gift Cert as payment option, then you enter your code.

Once your order form is filled out I take the code you give me and do a search in my paypal records to double check that everything is in order. If for some reason I can not find the code I may ask you to send in the paper copy or tell me the last name of the person that gave you the certificate. I do have to cross reference it manually at this point.

Right now I am a little low tech on the cert issue, and I do appreciate everyone's patience. Paypal now has the option of creating gift cert buy buttons that can be customized and I will be switching over to that system this year once I figure out the technical stuff I need to do to make it happen.

I can also be reached toll-free if you do not like shopping carts and navigating websites:

I am here to help you redeem your certificates.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More pet portrait collages

Last Feb 201:  20 projects, 25 animals
Last March 2011: 19 projects, 23 animals
 More pet portraits from last year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pet Portraits 2011

When I first started my pet portrait business way back in 1998 I thought that I needed to compete against other portrait artists and I tried very hard to have the fastest loading best looking site I could possibly have. I just really wanted to be the very best of the best. Somewhere along the way I started making friends with other portrait artists and my competitive drive started to change and morph. These days I really spend more time competing against myself than competing against other artists. I look at my sales from the last year and I look at how many projects I proofed during a particular month. Last January I proofed 19 clients. I hope I can do that well this month, crossing fingers.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Mosaic Monday: ATC

This weekend I played around and got started on an Asian inspired ATC ( artist trading card) for a local swap that is coming up in early Feb.  The collage artwork on this one is by a Japanese print maker named Kunichika.

2.5x3.5 Mosaic ATC

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

One artist's Resolutions

 It is that time of year again,  do I set goals, make resolutions or just list last year's accomplishments? I have never been big on New Years resolutions, but I will make a stab at it this year when it comes to the things I want to do as an artist.

My 12 Art resolutions for 2012:
#1 Take art classes outside of my main areas of mosaic and digital art.
#2 See more art. I saw a lot of art in 2011, but I plan to see even more in 2012.
#3 Offer better support to my partner in his creative pursuits
#4 Renew membership to the Dallas Museum
#5 Focus on process and let the meaning take care of itself. Last year I was very focused on meaning in my work and this year I want to return to a greater emphasis on process and experimentation.
#6 Enter at least one show per quarter
#7 READ. Read the pretty art books on my bookshelves, read artist biographies, read the info cards at museum shows... read read read.
#8 Draw, and keep a sketch book again.
#9 Create a mosaic portfolio book via blurb
#10 Update my fine art portfolio website
#11 Take more time to acknowledge the many people that support me in my work.
#12 Keep working on finding a healthy balance between portrait commissions and the personal work I do. Both are important and both feed my soul.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Mosaic Monday: Murmur

Happy New Year!  
5 x 18 Mixed Media Mosaic
© rebecca collins
 I just finished either my first mosaic of 2012 or my last mosaic of 2011, or maybe both. I started this right after Christmas and just grouted today. It is a robot arm holding an anatomical heart. I am very pleased with how well my drawing elements are showing through this time. I used the ring saw and cut large shapes for my main subject areas.

I like this a lot, and now I am very eager to finish a bird mosaic I started last year. This year I am going to try and do a few mosaics that are a little more "traditional" in subject matter, like birds, maybe dogs and other critters. I have always been very drawn to odd-ball quirky subjects for my mosaic work, but I feel like sometimes I am using that as a crutch to stand out. I want to try my hand at "pretty" and "normal" subjects to see if I can do them in a way that will stand out and still have a different twist to them.  I have proven to myself that I can totally make odd things look pretty in mosaic, now lets see if I can take pretty subjects and make them look unusual.