Saturday, May 21, 2016

Duet - Portrait of an Irish Setter

I was commissioned to paint Duet last year.   I'd taken some photos of her in Georgia when I was there last April.

Her owner really enjoys the playful side of Duet - who is quite charming.   Knowing Duet's portrait was to focus on the fun loving Duet, we took photos of her playing with toys, chasing toys, watching toys - anything and everything with toys.  We just didn't get the perfect reference photo.  My camera had been malfunctioning on me and the focus was delayed.  So frustrating to be out of town and having your equipment fail.

Some months passed and I was sent a number of new photos of Duet.  One caught my attention immediately.  Duet's head was cocked a bit to the side and there was a sweet yet slightly mischievous look in her eye.  I contacted her owner and we both agreed - we had our reference photo.

Duet lives in the in a lovely area with flowers blooming all around her.  When asked about the background for the painting, her owner told me, "She also is know for running through the flowers…mostly lavender, white and purple lilacs and white and pink peonies."  It just was perfect to add some fun girly colors in the background.

It was great fun painting Duet and capturing that rollicking side of the Irish Setter that they represent.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cliff Drive Santa Barbara - original pastel painting

The show is just around the corner!  If you are in Southern California - please come by!  Would love to see you.

The painting featured below is titled Cliff Drive Santa Barbara.  It is an original pastel painting and is available.

40th Annual Art Exhibition and Sale

California Images & History

April 22, 23, & 24, 2016

Civic Center Plaza, 245 E. Bonita Ave., San Dimas, CA
Celebrating 40 years, the San Dimas Festival of Arts 2016, California Images & History begins on Friday, April 22 with a Premier Opening & Reception at 6pm and will continue through Sunday afternoon, April 24, until 4pm.
Previously, the Festival proudly showcased artists who reflected the ‘Old West Attitude.’ Beginning last year, the Spring show adopted a new theme: California Images & History. This change better highlights the vast diversity of the state with art that exemplifies the splendors of the coast, vast mountain ranges, flourishing wine country, and Hollywood.
This year the Festival will feature their 2nd Annual Plein Air Event on Saturday, April 23rd. The public is invited to view a select group of artists set up their easels and paint San Dimas’ picturesque downtown area, including the Historic Walker House, Martin House (located on the corner of Bonita and Walnut). For the Plein Air landscape purists, painting will also take place at the last year’s location at the Tzu Chi Foundation during the same time as the downtown event. (The 100-acre campus is located at the end of Valley Center adjacent to ViaVerde.) More info below... 

Sunday, April 24th will feature the Quick Draw at 1:00 pm in which participating artists have one hour to complete a work of art with the prying eyes of the public. It’s a frenzied and exciting event in which artists reveal their talents, and good humor under a big white tent. At 2:15 pm the Quick Draw Auction begins and all the art that was created al fresco is auctioned off.
 The California Images & History event will begin on Friday evening, April 22 with a Premier Opening Reception at 6pm.
Viewing of all the unique and original fine artwork is free of charge and open to the public on Saturday April 23, 9am–9pm, and Sunday April 24, 9am–4pm. The Friday Premier Opening Reception and the Saturday Awards Dinner requires a reservation.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Second Painting of Finn

This is another commission of Finn. The first one I did was the recent post of Finn on point for his owner. She had commissioned me to do a second painting, a head study, for her which was to be a gift to be given to Finn's breeders.
The second painting was finished and shipped as a surprise to the recipients, Helen and Walt. I asked Cristin to share a little bit about Finn's breeders and Finn. Here is her story, I met Helen and Walt about 5 or so years ago when I decided it was time for another big red dog in my life. Helen had a litter of puppies that I went down to see as well as her kennels. Unfortunately, all the puppies were spoken for so I had to be placed on the waiting list for the next litter. About a year later, the new litter had arrived. I went down to see all the puppies and actually thought I'd want Finn's brother as Finn was just the sleepy less active one and his brother was up and all over the place. Little did I know Finn was just fooling me that day as he has certainly lived up to rollicking side of the breed description. From then forward Helen and Walt have been wonderful friends. They introduced us to the show world as well as the field and have taught me lots about the breed. So as Finn was the reason I got to know Helen and Walt, as Finn adores them both, and lastly since he was her first grand champion I decided to have his portrait done for her as a thank you for my lovely boy and the years of friendship. 
Thank you Cristin for having me paint your special boy.  It was my pleasure!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Callie's baby girl, Skipper.

Several years ago I painted two lovely young but mature Irish Setters. I'd photographed them in Wisconsin while traveling. When I gave the painting to the dog's owner, she was as excited as I was with the painting. Some years have passed and that lovely young female has grown into an amazing adult and had her first litter of pups. To my delight the owner had me paint the tiny pup she kept from this litter. I'm not sure I can express the joy in my heart to have painted the pup after painting its dam. I've asked the human mom to share the story of this special pup. Here is what she shared:

As you may know, this was my first litter ever, born during an ice storm when we were without power. Skipper was the name of my childhood dog, a boxer my parents got as a puppy about the same time I was born, so we grew up together. I had never even thought about naming another dog after him. Because this litter was immediately dubbed the Squeakers , my daughters were amusing themselves during the very long day (Callie took a 5 hour whelping pause after the third puppy!) giving all the puppies baby names that started with "Squ" but when purple girl girl was born, for some reason, Jen looked at her and said Skipper. Even though she was the seventh puppy to be born out of 10, I just had the most visceral reaction to her. I swear she crawled over to me as soon as we put her down after drying her off. For 8 weeks I had to force myself not to bond with her in case she wasn't the pick bitch!

Anyway, my other daughter Jessica took this picture of her the first day her eyes were fully opened. She was just starting to figure out how to focus them. She was the first to escape the whelping box and still believes the top of the pool table in the family room is her private perch. Her registered name is Carillon By Candlelight because we had no power the day she was born.

I love the painting! Not only because it is my sweet Skipper but also because it is a wonderful way to remember the joy of my first litter. Thank you so much.

Thank you Carolyn for having me paint your dogs.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A painting of Reilly - Celebrating his lifetime ranging from a puppy to a veteran

When Marsha first approached me to paint Reilly I was excited.  Her love of this dog flowed through her every word.   After several discussions, Marsha decided for the painting to reflect her life with Reilly.  The painting would show Reilly as a pup, as a 5 year old dog and lastly as he is today - 13 years old.

Marsha began sending me photos of Reilly which were compiled in a folder as I do with each commission.   She had some really wonderful photos.   Many of our conversations were on line via email and one day I decided to go to her Facebook page.  While enjoying her photos of Reilly I came across one Marsha had taken of her new puppy, Bentley.  In the front of this photo was Reilly - and I began laughing out loud - Reilly had actually photo bombed the photo of Bentley.  

There is something special when you are moved by a photo like I was of the Reilly photo bombing.   My wheels started spinning and I thought, heck, why not use the photo bomb photo in the painting! So, I assembled a collage of photos for Marsha to consider for the painting I was creating to celebrate the life of Reilly.   She LOVED the photo bomb idea - much to my delight.  

I asked Marsha if she would like to share a little bit about Reilly with me and this is what she told me:
     Reilly is the gentlest, happiest setter soul I every had or have known - from the time he was a pup through today as a senior dog.   He drew a lot of attention because of these traits and made a lot of friends where we lived in LA and Atlanta.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, knew him.   He just has a way to rein you in.  I think it is his gentle soul which is reflected in his eyes.   Some of the neighbors refer to him as the neighborhood ambassador - people I don't know!

Having lost a dog myself that lived to almost 13 in the past few years, this painting of Reilly really touched my heart.   How is it that one day they are this precious bubbly bundle of puppy joy and the next day this white face looks loving you in your eyes.  Time is truly but a vapor.  Enjoy every day with your dogs as the days fly by far too quickly.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A painting of Vinnie - English Springer Spaniel

This is Vinnie.   His owner lost him when he was 6 years old.   It is always so emotional for me to paint a dog that passed at a young age.  Having lost a young dog, I so understand the dreams and memories that will never come to be because time has cruelly been taken from you.
I asked her to share Vinnie's story and this is what she told me.  

It's so difficult to loose a dog. They are our pets but they are more than that - they indeed are a piece of our hearts! Vinnie was one very special guy - he was my shadow, my constant companion; he truly felt he was there for me and to make me smile (and at times laugh hysterically!) and I lost him way too soon! As I have been trying to understand why my grief has been so deep, I realized he was the most emotionally aware dog I had ever met or even heard of!! He wanted to please me and make me happy at all times - I could never cry - he would climb up me and be such a joker kissing me and such that every single time, he would turn my tears around!

We did SO much together - not just dog shows and earning titles in so many venues, but Vinnie was a very talented therapy dog! An example of his deep awareness was reviled to me one day during one of our therapy dog visits. We visited with children and he loved his kids!! A mother approached us with her 2 daughters - the older one instantly got down on her knees to pet and play with Vinnie - the younger was afraid, and hid behind her mom. We could coax her out and Vinnie as usual, would present his head to say "Hi". She would shriek and jump behind mom. After a couple of times, with us assuring her he wouldn't hurt her - Vinnie fell board flat on the floor on his side!! Both mom & the girls were all asking what happened? What's wrong with him? And I truthfully did not know! He then lifted his eye to mine and as our eyes met, I knew! When I recovered, my response to them was that nothing at all was wrong with Vinnie - he laid down flat on his side so she would know he had no intention of harming her and that he wanted her to come and pet him. And she did - and mom shared with me she had such a fear of dogs he was the first dog she had ever petted! 

I miss him dearly - but am thrilled to be able to have his most incredible portrait to keep forever.

Thank you for having me paint Vinnie for you Veronica.   He was so special.  

Reference Photos
Click here to see commission information

Friday, January 29, 2016

Finn - Painting of an Irish Setter

Here is a painting I've been working on since mid December.   I try to work on several  paintings simultaneously, going from painting to painting, to keep my eyes fresh.  It is a great way to proof what I am doing with each painting.   While working on this painting, I had three paintings in process; a Boxer, this Irish and a Springer Spaniel (that is very close to being completed).

A lovely lady named Christin had left a message on my phone about her dog, Finn, and wanted me to paint him.  It is so heartwarming to be contacted by someone who wants me to paint their dog.   I don't think it will ever be less exciting than it was for my first commission.
The initial discussion for this painting was great, the potential collector was excited, and I awaited the opportunity to meet her dog in Georgia.   We exchanged cell phone numbers and made plans to meet months later.   Zipping ahead to Georgia - I met Finn - he was GORGEOUS.   His photos were taken and we were all set for me to go through the photos when I returned to California.

Since Finn is also a hunting dog, Christin wanted to send me some hunting photos to be considered while going through all his reference photos.   She sent me the photos, and I have to say, they were really fabulous photos.   We went through the process of considering what touched her heart about the photos while I looked at each photo as an artist and compositionally.   In the end, we both loved this hunting photo and knew we'd found the perfect photo for his painting.

Upon asking, here is what Christin shared with me about Finn:

Finn is a sweet fun loving Irish setter.  While his human mommy took him home to be a loved member of the family with no intent of showing him, this gorgeous boy found his way into the show ring.  Showing only occasionally, he was still able to obtain his grand championship and finish out last year in the top 25.  But this sweet boy is not all show, his real love is being out in the field.   He's an avid hunter, even fancying himself a hound when his favorite quarry, birds, are not available seeking out rabbits, squirrels and even deer to chase.  Above all he loves spending time with his human pack joining in whatever activity they are involved in.

Thank you to Finn's family for having me paint him.  He is a really an awesome dog and painting him was my pleasure.
Finn in the Field
Primary Reference Photo

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A painting of Windsor is just finished

I met Windsor's parents last year when Norah approached me to paint their "boxer".  Of course I was thrilled - boxers have such expressive faces.  What I wasn't prepared for was to meet such a spectacular dog.   Not only was he gorgeous, he had a wonderful temperament.   
We took a number of photos of him at that time, but Jonathan had a fabulous photo that he'd already taken of Windsor.  When he sent me the photo - there was no question - no doubt - that was the reference photo to use.

If you look at the reference photo at the bottom of this post you'll see I've made a number of changes.  I dropped the fence line so it would not give a break in the middle of his neck nor in the middle of the composition.  I've also softened the area behind Windsor's head to keep the focus on Windsor and not the background.   

One big change in the painting was the amount of light and reflection I've added to his eyes that did not exist in the reference photo.   It is always great to have an exceptional photo as reference, but that is only reference - a road map to painting that dog.  

As an artist, I have to know what to emphasize, what to eliminate, what to soften and what to strengthen.   Also, compositionally, I want the painting to keep the viewer in the painting and wanting to keep looking and enjoying.  Isn't that what we enjoy about going to a gallery - looking at the art and getting caught up in a painting?  I hope you enjoy viewing the painting as much as I did painting it.

I've asked the Bonwit's to share some information on Windsor:

Silver Grand Champion Hallmark’s Mystical Marvel

2014 Top 20 Boxer
Sire:  Platinum GCH R and G’s Mystical Dancer, SOM
Dam:  CH Renno’s TKO’s Izzy My Daddy, DOM
Grandsires:  “Loki” and “Bosco”

     Windsor is the fifth generation Top 20 Boxer in his pedigree that is charged with a long line of renowned Producers of Merit and Top 20 Boxers.  This magnificent boxer finished his Championship at 10 months of age and then went on to win 42 Best of Breed competitions plus multiple group placements during only ten months competing as a Special.
     His sire, Platinum GCH R and G’s Mystical Dancer, aka "Danny” won the Top 20 in 2011.    And his grandsire, GCH Duba-Dae’s Who’s Your Daddy, aka “Bosco” won the Top 20 in 2009.
Other Top 20 Qualifiers in Windsor’s pedigree include CH Capri’s Woods End Spellcaster, aka “Loki”;  CH Woods End Crown Sable, aka “Tucker”;  CH Rosend’s Key Largo, aka “Bogie”;  CH Jems Jack of Diamonds, aka “Jackson”;  and CH Bayview Strides Ahead, aka, “Strider”.
     Windsor is a very loving, playful, and inquisitive spirit who is now happily retired to Stud and living with his adoring family in Huntington Beach, California.
Jonathan and Norah Bonwit
Brightwater Boxers
Huntington Beach, California

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ch Jewelsets Split Second "ELLIE" (BIS Ch Saxony Snow in August ex BISS Ch Jewelsets Special Attraction)

Ch Jewelsets Split Second "ELLIE" (BIS Ch Saxony Snow in August ex BISS Ch Jewelsets Special Attraction)

This beautiful girl left us earlier this year.   She lived a full life but, even then, losing her was far too soon.   They are never with us long enough - even when they lived as long as beautiful Ellie lived.

Ellie's painting was a Christmas gift from one friend to another.   The painting was a surprise and today the friends had their Christmas get together and the surprise present was opened.  The painting is a mini painting and measures 6 x 6. 

Thank you to Pat for having me paint Ellie for you to give as a gift.   It is such an honor to be able to be part of such a special present.

Hugs and understanding to all those who shared in Ellie's life.   She will be in your memories forever.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Commissioned painting of Brandie.

This painting is sitting her in my office and ready to be shipped out tomorrow.

This is "Brandie" CH Jamonds Brandie Wine Back with a Shamrock. I understand she is points away from her Grand Championship as well. I met Brandie back in 2013 - she was WB at the 2013 ISCA National Specialty - shown by her breeder and dear friend, Jackie Drummond.

She is a gorgeous girl and very loved by her owners, Bob and Rita Schmidt. I was so excited to be able to paint her for them. On a fun note, Brandie is a sister to my girl Faith (Brandie is from a repeat breeding so Faith is older). They both have the darkest eyes and gentle expression.

I met up with Brandie again in 2014 and took some photos of her. More photos were taken in 2015 and this painting is a result. The time allowed Brandie to mature and what a beautiful head and expression she has.

The painting is being shipped to Bob and Rita tomorrow. I can't wait for them to see it in person. The paintings are so much better in real life. There is a dimension and vibrancy that is lost when looking at the image on a computer screen.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Joe Cool - Pastel Painting of a Norfolk Terrier
Joe Cool aka CH Abershams Man in the Moon

This is a mini painting recently finished. The dog's name is Joe Cool. His registered name is CH Abershams Man in the Moon. It has been a pleasure to paint such a beautiful boy. I can see why he is loved so much - I'd just like to snuggle him and give him kisses. Thank you Celeste for having me paint your boy!
Reference photo of Joe Cool

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Painting Commission - Lennox

This is a painting of Lennox (Le Sphinx Killing Me Softly). The mini painting was a gift from one friend to another. I can't tell you how awesome it is when people commission me to paint a "gift" painting for someone.

Borzoi - Pastel Painting

I'd asked if the owner of Lennox could share some special thoughts on this lovely dog. She lives in Switzerland. Here is what she's shared: "I am still amazed at how accurately the artist Dawn Secord has made his wonderful charisma ........ She saw his wonderful expression and this says everything on him. He is the most special Borzoi of my life. A dog with a wonderful charisma.............again thank you so much!!!! He is now a senior 8 years can't believe how time flies......."

Thank you to all involved for having me paint your beautiful boy, Lennox. It was an honor.

Monday, November 2, 2015

New Commissioned Painting just finished.

This is Boo "Bruschi" - also known as BIS BISS GGCH Greengate the Boss at Beaubriar CGC, RN.

I met Boo back in 2006 in Michigan.   He was a very young dog at that time and absolutely adorable.   The one thing that was undeniable was his incredible personality.   He was a gorgeous baby, but I had no idea he would grow into such a beautiful adult.   I've asked his family to share a little bit of what he has done in the show ring.

He has won 2 BIS (Best in Show) and 28 BISS (Best in Specialty Shows)
Was #1 male IS for at least 1 year. Retired now, was ranked as #3 Breed and #3 All Breed when he was retired.
Owned and Loved by: Rick & Nancy Fiacco
Co Owners: Shelly DeChambeau, Bernie Elliot

Boo is one of those once in a life time dogs. 

Reference photo for the painting:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Portrait of Major for Emily

There is a very special story behind this painting.   At the 2014 National I was approached by this cute 15 year old junior handler, Emily, who was just learning to show dogs.  She didn't have her own Irish yet, but was showing dogs for others to learn the ropes.   She was so smitten with my artwork that she secretly commissioned me to paint her mother's dog as a gift.   Shortly after speaking with Emily, her mother approached me.   She wanted to commission me to paint Emily's first Irish setter once she had it.   Oh gee - what to do.   Funny thing is, this has happened to me before.  So, I knew what to do - I said  yes to both of them and would figure it out later.

Eventually, I told Emily's mother what was going on and we all laughed about it.   Her mother wanted me to keep the secret from Emily and let Emily think she was commissioning me when in actuality, the painting would be for Emily.

Now it is 2015 and Emily has her first Irish Setter, his name is Major.   Emily is so in love with this pup.  I was able to meet him in Georgia and can easily see why she loves him so much.  This pup has such an amazing personality, he even let a 3 year old stack him  (Major is pictured below with his breeder's granddaughter).

I asked Emily to share her thoughts about Major and this is what she told me;

Major is a fun loving, happy dog who has never met a stranger. He is My Heart Dog. I have never loved a dog like I love him.  He, at a young age, went to a nursing home and did amazingly well for a puppy.  I plan on getting his CGC next year and hopefully he will be a Champion next year too. He is one of those dogs you meet and he leaves an impression on you.

Thank you to Emily and her mom, Tammie, for letting me be part of your family and create this painting for ya'll.   I look forward to watching Emily and Major in years to come.

And of all the coincidences, her pup Major is out of Harmony, who is a litter mate to Drew (our male and Bling's father).   So Bling and Major are cousins.   Just a crazy coincidence.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Three Generations of Irish Setters - Pastel Painting

When I was approached to paint three generations of Irish Setters, I was thrilled.

I was able to meet all the dogs in person and take photos of them.  The center image was to be painted larger than the others is she the foundation dam.   Her owner wanted her image to be larger and stand out from her puppies and grand puppies.

The two upper images are her get - female on the right, male on the left.   From the female, a litter was whelped which produced the two lower images - two young males. 

Knowing the dam and the sire of the two young males, it is amazing how much resemblence I can see to various dogs in their pedigree.   The pup on the left most certainly reminds me of his uncle - upper right.  The pup on the right most certainly reminds me of his sire.  The pups are three now and I've seen pictures of the pup on the right.  As an adult he is a beautiful blend of his sire and dam.

It is so interesting to watch dogs grow and, like people, see how they develop and who they resemble.

Thank you so much to their owner for having me paint their portraits.   It was truly an honor to paint your family.

If you are interested in commissioning me to paint your dog, my email is or go to my website for more information