Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Art Paw Staff at work

Just another lovely day here in Texas. Spring is trying to happen early, crossing my fingers that she gets her way. I snapped a couple of great shots of our scary guard dogs hard at work ... they are such close pals. They love to hang outside when Lola is here working. She does all the shipping and stretching in a small building out back.

Lola got the shipping out quickly today and now she is working on updating our night-light images for Amazon. Our vendor for our light shells has discontinued that item so we are having to change out the artwork to fit into a new and improved light that we found on-line. The new lights are much more substantial than our older model.
Lola holding new light sample for me to shoot.
Bulldog night light ( image is 3x3)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Millie & Trevor

Millie & Trevor ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Later tonight I will be working on updating the artwork on these two adorable pups. I have just a few minor tweaks to do and then this will ship off to Australia this week. I have really enjoyed this project, I had to remove the bells on the pup to the right and that was a really fun challenge. Trevor was a Therapy dog in the hospitals and the bell harness was part of his work attire.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Me And My Shadow

Pet Photo Prompt: Get outside this weekend and photograph yourself and your pup's shadows. It is easy and fun, you just need some late afternoon sunshine.

Last week I went to  the lake with Whitman and tried to get some good shots of him. I got down on the ground and tried to get some nice up close shots of his face, but he kept looking away. I let go of my expectations and let him just walk, that is all he wanted anyway. In letting go of what I wanted I found some great shadows waiting to be captured.

Me and My Shadow
© rebecca collins /

"Circles & Shadows"
© rebecca collins /

 Yesterday I was checking out the terrific new blog make-over at Dog Art Today and noticed that Moira has a shadow dog portrait of her and Darby. Her lovely shadow portrait was painfully poignant since her sweet boy passed away this year. 
Dear readers, get outside with your pups this weekend and shoot some pics, take some photos then take some more.

Darby & Moira
© Moira Mclaughlin

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flashback Friday/ Remember E-cards?

Are you old enough to remember E-cards? Or better yet, do you recall anything web-related prior to Facebook? This morning I was thinking about the many technologies and web related trends that I have taken part in over the years as a result of my commitment to Art Paw.  E-cards were fun and yet rather time consuming to create. A long long time ago ... way before social media, web savvy businesses would offer free e-cards as a way to help their site traffic and give folks a reason to keep coming back. Below is a sample of some of the e-cards we offered.  The first image, top row is the very first digital painting I ever created of Atticus. We created e-cards for Christmas, Valentines day, Howl-o-ween, you name it, we had it.
Art Paw Screen Shot June 2002
taken using way-back machine

Art Paw Screen Shot June 2003
taken using way-back machine
I googled e-cards and discovered that some of the businesses and sites that were all about e-cards are still on-line and still serving up cards. Then I tried to find web articles about the decline of e-card usage. There was very little info on the topic, proving that once a trend dies on-line it dies with a whisper. One article of note is by Heather Dougherty called "Social networks displacing e-cards"... it is from Feb. 25, 2010.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Background Pattern

Today I am playing around with some textures and patterns that my husband shot for me last year when he went to New York.  Many men will go on a trip without their wives and bring home perfume, jewelry, or other sweet girlie trinkets, my guy knows that a nice grungy photograph shot on the streets is all it takes to make me happy. Check out the new background pattern I created below from one of Dan's travel pics.  He is also a pretty good gifter when it comes to jewelry, I am a lucky gal.

"Bentley" ( work in progress)
© rebecca collins /
Original photograph ( New York)
© dan collins /
Pattern detail

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cat Pet Portraits

Yay, more kitty cat art to print up soon! I just updated Maybelline kitty with some fun bold background options. We tend to get in 1 cat portrait to every 3 dogs, and I would love to see my feline works grow in number this year... so if you know anybody that adores their cats, consider turning them on to Art Paw for the pet portrait needs.

Maybelline ... one cool cat
( see all updated proofs)
© rebecca collins /

About The Art:
Our original photo had an adorable "sleepy-cat" pose and yet the coloring and contrast was sort of all the same ( dark). My first step was to play around with levels, brighten things up and erase the background. I kept some of the carpet because if I had just erased everything she would have been floating in space. I added some color-highlights to Mabelline's coat and played with 17 different background and  coat color options. After the client saw her 1st large round of proofs she requested a circle ground that she had seen on another cat in my gallery named Boo. She wanted me to try Boo's ground in raspberry & purple-blues. I showed the exact ground with new cooler colors and also messed with the ground a bit adding in new circle lines, as you can see from the first image at top.

© rebecca collins /

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pinterest for artists

Pink board

Follow Me on Pinterest

Thank you Eve Lynch for getting me totally hooked on Pinterest. I really needed one more social site to loose time to. I really like creating boards and my favorite new board is my "pink not for sissies board". Notice how I referred to "my" board. That is one thing that I found alarming. I am an artist and a designer and I am rather sensitive about the subject of copyrights yet after hunting down and gathering a dozen stunning images of "pink", I feel like I shopped for them and now I own them some how, even though they are just living on-line.  I am careful to try and provide a url link back in the description and will start digging further when needed now to include artist or  photographer credit when I can find it, after all these are not my photos just a curated collection of pinks.

Copyright issues aside, it is a great tool to get that "shopping need" filled without spending a dime. Women are doing this for that reason, and I know by the number of shoe boards you can find. Also abundant are food and recipe boards with stunning pics... if only that were enough to fill my eating needs.

So what is Pinterest? From their site:
Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.
Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Artists Can Use Pinterest to:
• quickly bookmark inspiration they find
• create a mini portfolio board
• Idea boards for clients: create a board of colors and patterns to present to your clients as a springboard for dialogue about their project
•  Create a blogging board to save images that you may want to blog about later.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Flashback Friday / Atticus

Thinking about Atticus today. He was our first Scottie and the inspiration for Art Paw.  He was an only dog before Nessie came along and in those early years we took him everywhere with us.  He was one of the few dogs that we were able to have under total voice control and so he was actually allowed off-leash in some places. The image above was take at Barton Springs in Austin Texas. In looking for images today I found a lot of burned cds with the words "pics" scrawled on them. It made me realize I am way over due for cd burning. If my current computers died tomorrow we would loose a lot of photos of our current pups. 

Back up and burn your photos! They are with us such a short time. Be sure and preserve your memories.  I can not tell you how many memorial pet portrait projects I have done from photographs that were like the "one and only" photo people could find. So I guess my 2nd suggestion would be go out and shoot some more photos this weekend of your fur-kids, I think I am going to.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Smudge Tool Photoshop

Today I want to talk about the smudge tool in Photoshop. I could not live without it and that is because 8 of 10 photographs that people send me are very low in resolution and are in fact "web quality" images, not "print quality" images.  Technology has gotten very sophisticated over the years, and yet our ability to save, store and share high quality photographic images over the years has gotten worse. This is because the main emphasis in digital photography right now is the quick share on portable devices. We take pics using our cell phones instead of using the nice digital cameras sitting at home in a drawer, or we do take pics using a great camera and yet we upload them to Facebook and by doing so the high resolution and detail is crunched right out of them in trade for a fast upload and quick load.  In this case I am using photos that were sent in by a talented photographer that knows how to take and share great pics, but she is making use of pics sent to her from family members and so we must use what we have. The good news is the lighting and pose are great. This image has lots of good stuff  going for it... just not resolution.

So .... About The Smudge Tool:
The smudge tool in Photoshop is a very tedious, yet very efficient way to smooth out the jagged pixelation that occurs when you enlarge low resolution images. I create a blank layer, set the tool to a strength of about 80% and click the sample all layers box then I start smudging and smoothing, one pixel at a time.  This technique is actually what led me into my painterly style of working. Below is a very good example of the tiled jagged pixelation that occurs when you enlarge low resolution images, scroll down to see the before & after.

Click to enlarge

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jury Duty

Today I had to go sit in a huge room with dusty rose colored plastic chairs from the late 80's ... they were very comfortable. Maybe they were newer than that, but it is hard to fathom that this exact shade of mauve-rose could have come from this decade. I was not selected, but I did do my duty.

Not much to do while we waited so I sketched the backs of people's heads. I took some watercolor pencils and a notepad thinking I might want to doodle. Tomorrow it is back to pet portrait projects for me. As I left the court house and saw a line of people waiting to get their proof of attendance to take back to their employers I was reminded of how very fortunate I am to be able to work for myself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Some Pink & Red portraits for the day....
© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mosaic Monday / Mixed Media stuff

I know it is Mosaic Monday time, but I have been away from mosaics this last month as I play around in 2 other classes. Both have been great and both are winding down.  I will post a few of my recent works in progress below.

Collage layer on Robot Guy. Background circuit board pattern is an image transfer I have painted on top of. The original yellow & red circuit board image was created in Photoshop. The collage text on head is from an old Mac OS troubleshooting repair book.
Clay Robot heads I created in ceramics class, they are the inspiration for the robot series of what I call Trophy Bots. The guy with the red circle is my first subject.
"Trophy #1"
Finished Mixed Media painting.
ink, water color pencil, acrylic, collage
© rebecca collins
"Trophy 2-6"
Finished Mixed Media painting.
ink, graphite, acrylic, collage
© rebecca collins
The guy above was a lot of fun and better gets across the idea of Trophy Bots, or taxidermy robots. When I started doing these heads on boards it slightly bothered me and freaked me out that they had no bodies. When I have done robot mosaics in the past I always enjoyed creating elaborate arms and wheeled bodies for my fellows, so I asked myself why would they only have a head? Well the answer seemed simple, you do not have a body if you are a Trophy mount. So these are the first in an ongoing series of Trophy Mounted Bots.

Detail showing graphite pencil marks ... they are subtle, but catch the light in a stunning way, sort of like dirty silver.
I take inspiration everywhere I can find it. I think the Taxidermy subject largely came about because my assistant Lola and her fiance are actually into taxidermy. I do not understand it and have always been totally fascinated and repulsed by it.  These works are not meant as a judgment or as a big conceptual statement at this point. I am just really having fun with the absurdity of the whole idea of stuffing and preserving robots, something that was never alive to start with.

Ok, and one more acknowledgment is needed .... the idea to scribble all over my finished painting with pencil came from a mosaic trading card that my husband Dan created. He is not a Mosaic artist, but he is an artist and he created a lovely simple piece for our last ATC card swap. He created a bold simple tile ground using Cinca, an unglazed porcelain and then drew a spoonbill bird on it. From a distance you do not even notice the drawing but when you get up close and in the right lighting the marks show like magic. So I will end this post with his Mosaic Trading Card.

ATC 2.5 x 3.5
© Dan Collins

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

More Dog Portraits shipping

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

Chester shipped out today. It was fun seeing the striped background printed up, it is the first time I have printed it and it is lovely and rich.This sweet pup is a Valentines gift.

Below is Sadie, and she has a new background too that I have not printed before. I love the dot pattern in the 4 squares.

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

Friday, February 03, 2012

Flash Back Friday / Old Employers

A friend I worked with in college back in the 80's sent me an e-mail last week with pages from a 1934 Wards Catalog. He and I worked together at Montgomery Wards in Denton Texas while going to school.  Before posting the images above I went on a search for the images on-line so I could do a proper credit link. I think they came from this post:  I also found a really cool site called that contains pics from many old Department store catalogs.

My Old Employers:
Retail ... I am out of it however my first and last job outside of my home studio were in retail. I worked in Juniors clothing at Wards, did visual merchandising for Neiman Marcus, worked at a small pet boutique selling gourmet biscuits, had a brief stint at a one hour photo processing store, I worked at Macy's, and was a stock and display manager at the Container Store for about 5 years. I learned a lot about customer service during my 2 decades of retail work, and I learned a lot about selling, both through developing people skills and through the art of presentation.  I know I would not be as successful today in my art career if I had not paid my dues, standing on my feet for long hours selling other people's product. I know so many artists that are shy about selling their work. Some are scared to succeed in my opinion, and will not do the work they need to do to market themselves. I work really hard at marketing because I would much rather sell my own artwork than other people's product and with a fine arts degree those are really my 2 options. I have been self employed for over 15 years now.  I seldom look back.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Valentines day Pet Portraits

Just spoke with a client by phone that wanted information about the ordering process. He is hoping to order a pet portrait to be delivered by Valentines day. There is still a small window of time to place an order for a Feb 14th delivery. As long as photographs and payment is received by this Saturday the 4rth ... I can provide proofing by the 8th of Feb. and that gives us a few days to ship.

Gift certificates are also a great option.

 I have just 3 projects to finalize tomorrow and then I will be caught up on new proofing again.