Friday, January 31, 2014

Raining English Bulldogs

Bulldogs, Bulldogs, Bulldogs!

Here at the end of the month it seems be raining English Bulldogs and you will not find me complaining about that. I love working on this wonderful breed.

Notice in this first sample of Lulla Bell how her eyes droop just wee bit in the original photo. That is a normal thing with Basset Hounds and many other pups like the Bulldogs as they age. As an artist I always want to flatter my subjects without totally altering any normal breed characteristics. In this case I used the liquify tool to slightly reduce that droop just a tiny bit without eliminating it. Then I added in a white highlight for sparkle.  If you compare the eyes in all of these before and after shots I think you will find that each pup ended up with a little more brightness and twinkle in their digital paintings.

"Lulla Bell"
© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /
"Ashley's Pup"
© rebecca collins /

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pet Portrait Business Models

Pet Portrait Business Models/ One Size Fits All? 

  Today I had lunch with one of my Photoshop students. She offered to buy me lunch if she could pick my brain a wee bit about getting started in the world of pet portraiture and the ins and outs of commission work. We had a great conversation and hopefully I was able to give her some good advice and direction. She already seems to have a very good handle on things and I know she will do great.

Whenever I help someone or teach something I always walk away learning a lot myself. Today in asking a lot of questions I realized that there is no one size fits all formula when designing a business model for anything and it is especially true with art. My student and friend really wants to approach her adventure, initially anyway, as more of a part time job and she is not really concerned with earning a  full time income from her portrait work. Her business model will end up looking a bit different from mine. I try hard to put in 40 hours a week, it does not always happen, but that is usually the goal. In my earlier years it was much more like 60 hours per week. That brings me to another point ... a business model is never set in stone. What worked for me at the age of 36 may not be the same as what is working for me today and what  will work for me way down the road when I am 60 or 70 or 80. I do not plan to ever retire and yet I do not want to be working 40 hours a week for the rest of my days.

So How to Design the Perfect Art Business Model?

I think the first place to start is to identify your goals.  Again, these goals can change. If you want to create a business that will serve as a full time income you need to do the math before you do anything.  How many pet portraits do you need to create each month at what price point and can you even work fast enough to do that? Say you have production down and you can paint relatively fast, well can you market yourself and get the orders you need in order to buy groceries? Often you will never know the answers to these questions until you try, but these are all questions that you need to consider. I was two or three years into my own adventure with Art Paw before I started asking myself these questions, and yet I figured it out. 

Nitty Gritty Details?

What about accounting, copyrights, web design, credit card processing and so on. Well the good news is most of the information you need to run a business, any business is on-line and free info. You just have to start googling.

Shop Other Artists ... Then do your own thing.
This is a very important point. It is only natural to want to see what other pet portrait artists do about proofing, about delivery turn around times, and yes about pricing. Do your research, take your notes, and then create a business model that makes sense for you and for your unique lifestyle.  An oil painter that creates canvas portraits that are 4 feet wide by 6 feet tall is going to have a very different looking business model than a watercolor painter that is creating small 5 x 7 paintings. As a digital artist my way of working and taking care of my clients is going to be different from both and yet there are common things we all share, and business practices that are just good common sense.

My next Photoshop Class is April 12th & 13th here in Dallas. E-mail me if you are interested in pushing pixels with us ( my e-mail: .

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tutorial Thursday/ Clone Stamp tool

Going to try and get back to posting tips and tutorials for other artists on Thursdays. Today I am sharing my trick for dealing with over exposed areas on your client photographs. I am using the clone stamp tool in Photoshop to fill in blown out areas.

The clone stamp tool, (sometimes called the rubber stamp tool) is a terrific and often over used tool in the Photoshop arsenal. When you are new to PS you can find yourself reaching for it to fix every problem that comes your way. Much of my painterly style work involves the smudge tool and so often a simple swipe of the smudge tool will obliterate small hickies. When you have a large overexposed area however, nothing beats the clone stamp tool for adding in some texture and color.

If you enjoy the video please post a comment and let me know. Thanks for watching!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Metal Parts For Mosaics

The cool thing about doing Mosaics, and specifically Robot themed mosaics ... is that people will give you the oddest metal bits and pieces.  In the last week I have received machine parts from both a student and from one of my teachers.   I do love my life and my friends.

I am so eager to start a new Robot Mosaic very soon.

Below is "B1", Ithink I am on B30 by now.
© rebecca collins
for purchase at Etsy

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A few Shots Of My dogs

It is a stunning day today and I really should be outside taking pics of my own pups. Often clients come to me for a memorial pet portrait after a pet has passed and they have very limited photographs to choose from. I always tell people to shoot plenty of photos of their pets while they are with you and be sure and back up those photos ... burn them to CD, put them on external hard drives and even sit down and print out a few.

Today I will share a few favorite shots of my guys....

Ajax, Pixel, Whitman



Whitman and Toy

Whitman Begging

Friday, January 17, 2014

More Kitty Portraits

Today I proofed 2 kitties that are part of a very large multiple pet project. I have another multiple pet portrait project that I will share with you guys later this weekend. I love it when clients do wall groupings with my art. Of course we sort of believe in filling our walls up around here.
© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Follow Me On Instagram

Art Paw On Instagram

 Please Follow me on Instagram:

New year and so I am trying new things, or at least new to me. I finally got around to playing around on Instagram a wee bit this month. It is really a fun and focused way to share photos. Tagging allows me to find and connect with other Scottie fanatics. A long time ago I was really addicted to Flickr and made a lot of pals over there. More and more we spend so much of our time on facebook.  Many of my old Flickr pals now connect with me on FB more than on Flickr. 

I can see why Instagram is so popular, it is all about the quick and easy phone ap. With Flickr we generally would optimize and crop our photo images then upload, then write something about the image. It was all very time consuming. Instagram is super fast and easy and fun.

I plan to use it to post behind the scenes Art Paw studio stuff, my doggies, and of course travel shots.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cool Cat Art From the Archives

Posting just a few kitty portraits today from the Art Paw archives. 

© rebecca collins /

© rebecca collins /

© rebecca collins /

© rebecca collins /

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Art Paw Etsy & Scottie Find!

My Art Paw Etsy shop
I love Etsy, I like shopping there and I like selling there. Today I was digging around my shop stats and I discovered I was getting a little bit of traffic from a really cool Scottish Terrier Blog. Go check out  It is run by Connie Singer and contains a lot of her stunning photography. I have not had a chance yet to back track through a ton of posts however I really love what I have seen, and I adore a photos she shot of Sweet Winnie back in November.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mosaic Monday / U.F.O. s

WIP Chip The Robot
Well it is January and time to drag out all of those old U.F.O.'s or Unfinished Objects that we have laying around. I like to start the New Year finishing up older projects and I think this week I will do just that.  Poor Chip the robot has been unfinished for way too long.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Today we visited with my Dad and his girlfriend out in the country.  Using the mobile blogger ap to post this.  This is a pic of the painted metal storage buildings that tell me we are getting close to their community. I have always loved these colors breaking up the country side.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

More Praise

Going through recent e-mails and I found sweet note from a happy client....
"I wanted to touch base and let you know that April LOVED the pictures of Cletus, Chloe, and Clyde‼   (Hope you remember them!)   In fact, she loved them so much, will be contacting you to do pictures of the horses.  The paintings were loved by all and she posted them on her Facebook.  You may be getting more business!

Have a safe and wonderful New Year.
B.T. "

© rebecca collins /

© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /

Friday, January 10, 2014

Flash Back Friday / A Few Felines

Here at Art Paw we seem to do twice as many pup portrait as cat portraits. I really do adore kitties and I was going  through old photos this week and I have a few felines from my past to share with you guys today.

Me and Bob at White Rock Lake
Bob was a boy friend's cat. I was in my late 20's here.
Me and my First Cat Juno
I was in my early teens here

Sweet Phoebe lived to be 22
Juno liked to jump up high.
Ok ....  so I want to do more Cat Portraits this month!
If you are a cat lover you can use
promo code: juno to save $50 on any portrait.

A Side Note:  I had this post written yesterday and ready to post. This morning I heard from a past client that manages a Veterinary hospital in North Carolina and they want to display some of my Cat art prints in their feline exam room. That is pretty exciting news and very timely. My partner has been urging me to team up with more clinics this year to display my work. How odd that the universe will provide you with so much synchronicity when you least expect it.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Golden Retreiver Art

© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /
This sweet girl is Emily and her portrait shipped out earlier  this week. The client chose the 2nd image with the wooden background. I liked that proof a lot and it printed up really pretty.

If you are a fan of Golden Retrievers you can see more examples of different pups on the Golden Retriever Page on my main site. We also have links to a few gift items there.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Selfie / Rebecca Collins

© rebecca collins /

Posting a Selfie today. I loved the flash and reflections on this pic.  I posterized the image and added in a few smudges and splatters. I am trying to blog each day this month and in the process it is causing me to think about what sort of focus and purpose I want for the blog in 2014.  I started my blog in 2005 and in the past nine years I have written tips for other artists, posted pics on client walls, and of course recent pet portrait projects.  I have 14 Flash Back Friday posts and I think I will keep doing those on occasion, because it is just fun to look back at times.

My Blogging Goals for 2014:

Let my clients and potential clients see a glimpse into my world. Art Paw is a small artist run business and when I was just starting out I did everything I could to look like a medium-large business because I thought at the time that was what I wanted. I also wanted to present my company as professionally as possible so that I could garner trust during a very early stage of the Internet. In 1999 not many folks were comfortable yet ordering things on-line. Now after 16 years in business I am starting to realize that running a small company and being an independent artist is exactly what I want. I have a following of loyal repeat clients and each year the business grows in a manageable fashion. 

Educate Other Artists. I am starting to teach Photoshop off-line and I want to start doing more video tutorials to share my process with my students. Eventually I plan to set up a separate website and blog just for on-line courses, but that will take awhile to create. For now I will keep using the Art Dog Blog to share tips, resources and inspiration.

Differentiate myself from the competition.  The artwork I do at Art Paw is digital and yet it is a lot different than what most digital service providers offer. I have a fine art background and very strong design skills. Too often the "photo to canvas" companies hire kids fresh out of college and teach them to throw a few filters around, while never really taking the time to teach them the basics of design. Working as a digital artist I am able to provide my clients with a lot more proofing options than traditional media artists and without the drying time of oil paints therefor I am able to work much quicker than traditional painters. There are many other ways that my work is different and I hope to use the blog this year to explore and illustrate those differences.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

New Dog Art Bean

© rebecca collins /
© rebecca collins /
This original photo of Bean was really lovely and such a joy to play with. Black pups are hard to shoot and yet here is a terrific photograph with nice lighting. The coat texture shows well. My only fixes were cloning out the electronic collar and one little eye booger.

The 2 samples above are just 2 options out of 14 that I showed my client. This year I am starting to think about all the many ways that Art Paw differs from the typical photo to canvas service providers out there and I would have to say that the sheer quantity of proofing options really does set us apart. I also have a transparency with my business that I do not see on other sites. On my proofing site you can dig around and see all of my proofing projects, not just the ones that start from lovely photographs like Bean. I am proud of all of my work even projects that may have started from a less than perfect snapshot.  The better the photo the better the final portrait and yet often I can turn low quality images into real works of art, and I am usually willing to try.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Horse Art / Buster Brown

Today I proofed a handful of projects including this terrific horse named Buster Brown. I do love working on horses and any critter with hooves. You can take a peek at my most recent pet portrait projects by checking out my proofing site over at Smug Mug or of course by following Art Paw on Facebook.

"Buster Brown"
©rebecca collins /
"Buster Brown"
©rebecca collins /

In this project my biggest challenge was cloning out the harness per the client's request.  I also elongated the neck to fit within a square format. I used the warp tool to do that.  I am very happy with the results.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

 "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie"
"It is nought good a sleeping hound to wake". Chaucer—Troylus and Crysede. III. 764 

It is a lazy Sunday around here.  Sketching and photographing my sleepy dogs.  They love the weekend. We usually take them to the lake on Sundays, but today the north wind was so bitter we made it a short neighborhood walk and now everyone is crashed out.

© rebecca collins /

© rebecca collins /

A week ago I washed several of the dog beds and asked Dan to put the bedding back on the foam inserts, he placed this bed in a new location in front of a floor to ceiling window. Pickle quickly claimed it as her own, she knows a sunny spot when she sees it.