Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pet Portraits Are Shipping!

Evelyn is here today and we are shipping out all of November's approved orders. We are caught up with all orders that were placed by posted deadlines and now I am tackling new orders that have come in this month.  I am still accepting orders this month and promising proofing and even delivery in most cases. 

Sunday the 14th will be the very last day to place an order for a holiday delivery... rush fees will apply.  The best way to order is on-line.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have so much to be thankful for, I have my health, a warm home, a terrific extended family and many many friends.  As I sit here at my desk on the evening before Thanksgiving, waiting for Dan to get home from work I realize I am most thankful to be loved by a man that has always loved art and animals as much as I do. That is really no small thing, no small thing at all.  I love my husband and our 4-legged family.  We are so fortunate in so many ways.

I threw together a small video of my guy and a few of the animals he has loved over the years. I know he will be embarrassed by it, but I don't care.  Nobody is reading this blog the evening before Thanksgiving anyway. If you are reading this then I do wish you all a terrific Holiday!

Art Paw will be closed tomorrow, but I will be back at my desk on Friday working on holiday portraits.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sending Images At Full Resolution

It is that time of year again, the holidays are upon us and that means I will often be working with whatever pics people can get their hands on. That usually means compressed low resolution images sent from a friend of a friend or downloaded right off of facebook.  It also  means celebrating pets that have passed on using whatever photos are available. I always do my best to create something wonderful with whatever images people can send. If something just will not work I will tell my clients that. When I can I will encourage folks to send again and try different menu options.

What Clients Need to know about sending phone pics:

Texting your image to my e-mail is going to auto-crunch your image and reduce the file size.  Try to use an actual e-mail ap to send your image to me.

• The auto send or share feature on most phones sends low resolution pics for speed.

Most phones these days take great high resolution images.

There is a way to send at full resolution and a google search for "send full resolution images from my: insert name-brand phone ", will yield a plethora of tutorials.

• There is no way to auto fix a low resolution image, it will pixelate like crazy when enlarged. Using the smudge tool a good artist can smooth out the jagged pixelation that occurs. It is time consuming, and requires smoothing and smudging every single pixel. 

Today I am posting a Video tutorial I found on-line that may help iphone users send us their images at full resolution. This fellow walks you through it with a lovely British accent.


What You Need to think about as a Digital Artist:
I always tell my Photoshop students that you learn ten times as much trying to create something from low res. poor quality images than you do by working with stunning photos at full resolution. Any hack can take a stunning high resolution photograph and make it even prettier, the challenge is working with lower quality images. With that said I too prefer a minimum of 500KB and I love it when I can get my hands on an image that is at least 1mb.

Tips For Other Digital Artists:
• If you plan to stick to your image size requirements when working with clients plan to do half the pet portrait volume you could be doing.
• Always give help and tips when trying to get good images from your clients, but be prepared if they can not follow through.
• Know that sometimes all a client will have is a photo that was e-mailed from a pal at low resolution and asking their loved one to jump through hoops for the original image at actual size might just spoil the gift giving surprise.
• Your clients are not dumb, they are often very busy professionals and probably have not ever needed a full resolution image before. Many people are on their 3rd or 4rth phones and you never know, they may have a brand new phone that they are still learning about.
• Respect your client's time and know that at the end of the day your flexibility and skill at working with all types of images will pay off in the amount you will learn about Photoshop and in your ability to build great relationships with your clients.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Holiday Pet Portrait Deadline

It is that time of year again.   Time to post my holiday deadlines.

Order by 11/18 .... and get my very best unhurried creative work with a guaranteed delivery by Christmas.

Ordering now means that your pet will get the time they deserve and I will even have an extra pad of time so I can make a few color changes if they are needed.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Howl-o-ween

Happy Halloween guys!
Keep your critters safe tonight.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Showing at Exhibit3 / Day Of The Dead Scottie Mosaic

© rebecca collins
12 x 12 Mixed Media Mosaic

Hey guys, I am showing at a new gallery in Oak Cliff this weekend. Come out and see me Sunday at Exhibit3. I was invited to show by the gallery owner Adam Spigel. He will be showing his lovely panoramic landscapes and artist Cap Pannell will have some Day of the Dead works on view as well. I will be at the gallery around 7:00 and will hang out in the evening.  Drop by anytime on Sunday, the entire Bishop Arts area is having a Day of the Dead celebration. It should be a fun day to be in Oak Cliff.

About the Mosaic Above:
This is a project I did a few years back in honor of my sweet boy Atticus.  He was my very first Scottie dog and the muse and inspiration behind Art Paw. I think it is one of my most successful earlier mosaics. There is text below the glass about the breed and additional handwritten text about our sweet boy, including favorite nicknames and personality quirks.

2014 EXHIBIT3 Grand Opening - New Bishop Arts Gallery
Sunday, November 2, 2014 12:00p to 10:00p
EXHIBIT3 - 1221 W. Davis Street, Dallas, TX 75208

Friday, October 10, 2014

This Artist's Growing Pains

So much has been happening this year, it is a year of both major growth and major loss. Back in June we had to say goodbye to our sweetest pup Ajax. His illness came out of nowhere and with tons of tests we still do not know what took him and we are still blaming ourselves for things we could have done better and second guessing the choices we made.  Those are things I tell my clients never to do, and yet it is human nature, especially when you are hurting so much.

© rebecca collins /
Sweetest Boy Ever ... Ajax

In August we adopted a wee little pup named Higgins, he and Whitman are the best of friends. The name was given to him by his foster Mom and I liked it so it stuck. Higgins combined with Whitman makes us sound like a masterpiece theater household or something.  Pixel ( A.K.A. Pickle)  likes him ok although she does have to snap at him on occasion just to keep him in line.   Our sweet Scottie girl has bladder cancer and was diagnosed back in February. She has great days and months and then a week or more where we think it is time for her to leave us.We were worried about bringing a new guy into the mix while she has been getting so much additional love and attention, but in reality she has enjoyed watching the boys play so hard and their antics keep her amused.

Lazy dogs Whitman & Pickle
Doggy loss is a road we are not unfamiliar with and we accept it as part of the deal. Whenever it happens the world keeps turning, as much as it feels like we are loosing a kid since they are our surrogate children after all, and as much as it hurts we move forward and often that has meant pouring myself into my work. This year however I have not totally immersed myself in either the fine art mosaics or Art Paw. I am keeping up with my commissions and loving all of the pet projects in front of me but the true distraction and area of focus is the construction happening in my back yard.   

Yes, we are finally building on to our little bungalow in East Dallas. We have a 2 bedroom one bath cottage on a huge lot. I have always enjoyed sitting in my backyard and saying that the yard is my largest and favorite room. Well that yard and that space has gotten eaten up by new home square footage.  We are doubling the size of our home, adding a master suite, laundry room and huge studio space that will house both Art Paw and our fine art pursuits.  I am super excited and hope to be moving into the space by the spring of 2015.  Having a smaller backyard will mean less area to landscape so it will be easier to make  a big statement with my plantings.
© Modern Craft LLC
Rendering above of our new space
Check out Modern Craft on Houzz
We love our builder!
 So the Growing Pains ... well living where construction is happening is never easy. I do not feel like I am doing nearly enough creative work in my off hours. I feel like I am in some weird purgatory space, it is neither Heaven or Hell. My one salvation ... I have been taking Figure drawing classes with Dan and I am loving that. Susan Giller is a terrific drawing teacher at the Dallas Creative Arts Center.  It is such a luxury to have live models to draw.  Drawing in general is a wonderful discipline for any artist, I do not know why drawing the human figure is so special, but you know what ... it sort of is. Below are a couple of 20 minute contour drawings from class. I created these on leftover paper that was used for spray painting so there is a lovely layer of color and texture beneath the line drawings.
© rebecca collins
original drawing available for purchase

© rebecca collins
original drawing available for purchase

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mosaic Monday: Tempered Glass Worskhop

"Blast Off"
© rebecca collins 2009

"Blast Off" ( detail)
© rebecca collins 2009

Today I have been prepping to teach a workshop that will take place next Sunday on Tempered Glass Mosaics. I have taken the workshop myself twice and it is always a lot of fun.  Tempered glass is the type of glass we have in our cars.

Tempered glass is a type of safety glass processed by controlled thermal or chemical treatments to increase its strength compared with normal glass. Tempering puts the outer surfaces into compression and the inner surfaces into tension. Such stresses cause the glass, when broken, to crumble into small granular chunks instead of splintering into jagged shards as plate glass (aka: annealed glass) create. The granular chunks are less likely to cause injury.

The first step in creating a tempered glass project is to create a fun layered collage and I will be bringing some lovely papers left over from my old greeting card days. Other fun paper elements might include personal photos, stamps, maps, any sort of ephemera that will spark inspiration in the design process.

  I will be structuring the class in such a way that my students will be able to finish an 11 x 14 mosaic in one day ( grouting at home later ). I feel I am particularly well suited to teach this class because of my love of layering and mixed media collage work. Sometimes mosaic purists feel that tempered glass is way too easy because you do not do any precise cutting and instead rely on the fun random crackling of the glass itself to create patterns.  I happen to think that just because a technical process may seem easy at first, it does not mean that it is not worthy of pursuit.  A true artist can create amazing work with a box of crayons and does not necessarily have to spend a million dollars on oil paints. Tempered glass is like that box of crayons, it is affordable, accessible and the only limits are your own imagination.  Check out my Pinterest Board on Tempered glass to see some fun works by a wide variety of mosaic artists: 
One of my favorite mosaics using tempered glass is a dragon fly by my pal Cherie Bosela. She combined the glass with other traditional mosaic materials to create a stunning work.

Tempered Glass Mosaic
Tempered glass, a type of safety glass, is used to create jewel-like surfaces. In this workshop students explore the various ways tempered glass can be used on both 2-D and 3-D forms. With tempered glass you can create a window of enchantment, displaying a collage of colors, pictures and words. This is a great method for adding an interesting new element to your designs; one that invited the viewer to take a closer look into what you have created. This workshop is for beginners and seasoned mosaicists alike. All materials are provided. Please bring a lunch.

Date & Time:     Sep 21   Register (just a few spots left open)
SUNDAY 10:00am - 4:00pm (1 day)
Location:     Building A - Mosaic Room
Cost:     $95.00 ($125.00 Non-Members)$25.00 Materials Fee

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mosaic Monday/ Butterflies and other news

Above is another Artificial Pollinator that I created for my pal Eve Lynch's Butterfly Mosaic project. You can see a few butterflies from her last project by clicking here.  I missed out on that first call out as I thought I was too busy ... you have to make time for the things that matter and this is such a fun group community project. I just had to take part this time. Eve will be installing the flutter of submissions at an elementary school in Florida.

Check it out!  I made my local neighborhood magazine the Lakewood Advocate! This is their special pet issue that they do each year. Bottom right corner is my artwork of Prada the Pug.  Hoping that  this ink will make us fortunate enough to find a few new local clients or even just hear from some old ones.

Higgins never backs down in play!

Higgins ... my sweet new cuddle bunny.
Ok and last but of course not least ... I have to introduce the newest member of our pack ... Higgins is a rescue and our very first random bred baby. I have always wanted a good old fashion mixed breed pup and yet time and time again we have rescued Scotties because they are my husband's breed of choice. I have no complaints, all of our Scotties and of course Whitman the Fox terrier have been amazing companions. I just wanted to mix it up a tiny bit this time and this very wee little guy is just the ticket!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mosaic Monday/ An Artist Lives Here

I took my students on a fun field trip to Barb Dybala's studio in Rockwall Texas this last weekend. I was trying very hard to create a video using i-movie that would combine my shots from my earlier 2011 trip with some voice-over and the editing task became way too daunting today so  I went with a quick little slideshow from just the Saturday trip. I will try to write more soon about the day trip and include a longer movie with voice-over.
Visit Barbara Dybala at her website :

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

East Dallas Pet Portraits

Here at Art Paw we ship all over the globe and yet these last few years I find myself creating more and more portraits for clients in my own East Dallas neighborhood and often I know these pets so it makes it even more fun. Today I will post just a few of our local Dallas pups.

"Chloe and Higgins"
 The smiling duo above is an older project. I met Chloe & Higgins' Mom years ago when I rescued a Cow Dog Stray from Little Forest Hills.

Spinone Italiano
Above is Sophie and her Mom owns the Rocket Science Hair Salon on Garland Road. Since her Mom is a genius with color highlights I figured I should give Sophie some good highlighting. I also did some fun text about her breed in the background, I was tickled and pleased when this proof was chosen.
The handsome cow dog above is Cab and he lives right next door to me. I have known him since he was a wee puppy. His Dad is the President of our neighborhood association.

Maxie is another neighborhood pup and her Mom owns Blue Ribbon Lady Landscaping.

Jackson is a local Dallas dog and his Dad did 3 large projects with me years ago. He had 2 huskies and a Bulldog. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mosaic Monday: Working In A Series Class

My next mosaic class starts next Weds. night the 23rd of July. We will be working in a series in this class. I will also help my students write an artist statement towards the end of the class. I will supply three 6 x 6 inch cradle boards and I will ask my students to work on all 3 projects at the same time. We may not finish each mosaic in this short 6 week class however we will get started on a consistent theme and work towards creating a cohesive body of work. Below is an intro video to the class with samples of various thematic works I have created over the years.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

White Rock East Garden Tour 2014 / Birds, Dogs, Cats & Robots

Last weekend I participated in our local neighborhood garden tour here in East Dallas. Every year they invite a few artists to set up in the yards of the homes that are on the garden tour, making it a very well rounded event. I had a great time!
"Analog Crow" 4 x 4 Mixed Media Mosaic Sold
© rebecca collins

"Robot Mosaic Trading Card" Sold
© rebecca collins

When I first started Art Paw way back in 1998 my main form of advertising was local outdoor events, everything from Art Fairs to Spca rescue events. I stopped doing as many of these in 2005 when the demand for my custom pet portraiture was way exceeding my free time.  With that said, I do absolutely love the Garden tour because it allows me to meet new neighbors, see old friends and connect with a few of my mosaic collectors.  I did very well this year and sold everything from clay robot heads to dog and cat bookmarks.  I sold a lot of mosaic work as well this year.

I always feel a bit schizophrenic when I put out my art wares and people see everything from digital art to ceramics.  Sometimes I think I should bring either the traditional media work or the digital work, but the reality is I sell both and different people respond to different work. Some folks like the dogs, some like the robots. If I continue to do a few of these sales I need to work on my signage and my display. I need better fabric coverings for larger tables. I also need to get organized with my work and keep it ready to go in plastic tubs ... after I shoot it well and offer it on Etsy all year long.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Art Paw On TV in Atlanta!

Did you know that Atlanta is #3 on the national list for cities with the most pampered pets? Yep, very cool and this morning we were featured on the morning show there at CBS46! Check out our 15 seconds of fame ...  Gift Ideas to Pamper Your Pet!

Cooper below  is the star pup that I created both a Warhol and a painterly style project for that you will see in the clip.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Mosaic Monday: Sama Conference

Sama Conference Recap Part 1:

Wow, way too much to pack into one blog post so look for more next Monday. I just returned from Sama 2014 in Houston. Every year the Society of American Mosaic Artists puts on a huge conference that is jammed packed with classes and speakers.  This year I went with a couple of my favorite mosaic buddies and we all had a blast. Today I will post just a few pictures of some of the people and the hotel. Next week I will try and post a more thoughtful summary of what I learned at the conference along with some videos I am working on that will include some actual mosaics.

Connie Marks, Rebecca Collins, Rebecca Morgan
Elevator Selfie
The best part of the conference was of course the people that all share the same passion for mosaic. I was fortunate to get to connect with a few cyber pals that live in other states, some I was meeting for the very first time in person.

Christine Brallier and Barbara Keith were there selling their lovely books! I was meeting Barbara for the first time. I got a great big hug from her.  It is always fun when you tell someone that you have been following their work for years and then they say the same thing right back to you... that happened a lot last week.
I really enjoyed getting to meet Cherie Bosela.  We have been web buddies for years. Cherie joined the Sama Board of directors and will be serving this next year.  She is fun and just a little bit goofy ( in a very good way), I wish I could spend an entire week with her. She has a light and healthy sense of humor that makes you feel good. 
The hotel was large and lovely, so was the downtown area. I played around a bit with an ap on my phone called paper artist. As a professional photoshop artist I generally roll my eyes at easy-cheesy phone aps, but you know what ... I have decided that they are fun and have their place.

Hyatt Entrance
The hotel was very nice
The hotel had a zillion floors, we were on 26 ... we were lower at first but had to move up due to a non functioning air conditioner.  I liked being up high.
Downtown Houston ... getting out of the hotel was much needed.

Phone sketch of stranger in the bar.
Ok and the last share today ... everywhere I travel I shoot patterns and textures to bring home to create colorful background templates for Art Paw. The pattern below was created using the wacom tablet and the smudge tool. There were some huge metal doors at the hotel that I shot and played with this morning to create a background I have already used on a dog portrait of Bingo. 
Abstract Background art 
Metal doors

Monday, April 07, 2014

Mosaic Monday / Working in A Series

Well it is official ... I have started a new series with my Robot butterfly mosaics. I have not finished my first one and I have started 2 more. As an artist I have always enjoyed working in a series, and as a result people typically will recognize my style and my work when they see it.

Later this summer I will be teaching a class at the Creative Arts Center in Dallas for mosaic artists on the very subject of working in a series. I often see mosaic artists labor for months and months on one project, say a bird or a landscape and then when they are finished they are so ready to move on and do something completely different. While this is very understandable it does not allow them to build a cohesive body of work that tells their audience what they are about as an artist and what is important to them.

Top 3 benefits to working in a series as an artist:

Playful experimentation ... when you are working on a series of projects within the same theme you can approach each one as an experiment instead of a masterpiece. You can relax just a tiny little bit and treat them as studies. While still doing your best work you can give yourself permission to not have all the answers on the project in front of you ... after all this is not your last one in the series. Some better solutions and ideas will arise on your 2nd or 3rd project within a series.

Understanding Yourself and Your Art ...  When you work in a way where you create a portrait one day, a landscape the next month and then an abstract painting the next month, you are not traveling down a straight path and you are not digging very deeply into what motivates you and what makes you tick.  It is perfectly fine to have many favorite subjects, I certainly do, however I find that by spending extensive time focusing on one subject at a time in my personal works I am able to get closer and closer to some core truths about my art and my self and what is important to me.

• Be taken seriously ... I have been in museums countless times and seen work by artists that I do not particularly like however walking away from the show I always state that I am so glad I saw the show and while I may not like a particular artist's work I can still respect what they are doing and respect them. With that said Cindy Sherman comes to mind for me, she recently had a show here at the Dallas Museum of art and while I am not a huge fan, I thoroughly enjoyed that show and I loved seeing her many different periods of work. As an artist if you do enough of something the world can not ignore you.  By working in a series you are telling the world that you are damn serious about the subject you are tackling. Give it a try ... be "Damn Serious" and work in a series.

For further reading:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Boston Terrier Art

I love working on Boston Terriers. Today I just proofed Miss Gracie. I have one other Boston to work on this week and a cow dog for a terrific repeat client. Things are a little slow this month, but I am excited about the portrait projects I have in house and I am happy to have some great quality photos to play with.

I will post a few images of Gracie's pet portrait proofs and a couple of Boston Terrier Videos.

© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /

This movie shows all of the many proofing options that I showed to my client. In this movie I talk about a little Boston terrier I had growing up and I show up many Boston Terriers I have created art for over the years.