Friday, January 23, 2015


I've known Donovan's owner for a number of years now.   We've actually spent a decent amount of time together when we are at the same dog show.   One thing I've learned about her for sure is that she is passionate about her dogs.

When she first approached me to paint her dogs, it was to be a candid shot of two dogs.    When it came down to picking reference photos, there just weren't two photos of each dog that really complimented each other.   She decided to paint just one dog (for now) and chose Donovan.   I've known Donovan since he was a pup and have watched him mature into a wonderful animal.

I asked her to share some information about Donovan and her relationship with him, and this is their story:

GCH. Kilkenny's One Singular Sensation CD BN CGCA   aka Donovan. Donovan was a singleton (the only puppy in a litter) puppy bred by me.  Hence his name "One Singular Sensation".  This boy has given me so many firsts. My first GCH, my first bred dog that I put obedience titles on,  and several group placements. He far exceeded any expectations I ever had especially since he was an only puppy.  This never could have been accomplished if it was not for his co-owners Jayneann Wikler and Tim Sheridan.  Donovan is the love of my life.  Thank you so much Dawn for capturing his expression perfectly.
It is such a joy to paint people's animals.  I can't imagine tiring of it.   People ask me what I'll do when I retire.   "RETIRE" - really - how does one ever retire from something they love.   Someone will be prying a paint brush or a stick of pastel from my cold hand....then again, if I am found by someone who knows me, they will leave the artist's materials where they find them.
Thank you Lydia for having me paint such a sensational boy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Payne - from puppy to adult

This is Payne - he is an English Cocker Spaniel.  If you've never met this breed, have to tell you, they are just adorable.

My husband I have been fortunate enough to travel with Payne and his family for a number of years.   This painting has been planned for quite some time, but his family was waiting for him to mature so that his painting could show him at different ages.

The photos used for the painting were taken in different lighting scenarios - one with back lighting, several inside with no natural lighting, and one ideal photo taken outside in good lighting.   The challenge was to get all his coloring correct and make all three images balanced in value.

Several times while painting, my mind was playing tricks on me and I'd really have to rework an area.    My mind would say, "If that was dark, and you want it light, then what should we do with the values in the shadows?"    Right brain left brain thing I think.    Our minds do not doubt a photograph.  However, in a painting, if something is off ...lets say anatomically, but that anatomy is what the photo had, the human eye assumes the artist did something incorrectly.  Even if the painting shows just what the photo did.  For that reason, I'm very cautious in what reference photos I use.   There are often changes needed in the painting that are not in the photo.   Or things are left out of the painting that are in the photo.   Just depends on the dog, the photos and the lighting.   Painting from photos can be a lot more complicated than one may think.

Thank you to Payne's family for having me paint your precious boy.   He is like a big stuffed toy - but he gives kisses where a stuffy does not....

Saturday, January 10, 2015


This is Kobe, Multi BISS GCH Jadestar Ride Em' Cowboy.

I've known Kobe for a number of years and have watched him mature into a beautiful dog.  Not only is he lovely on the outside, he is a dream of a dog with a gentle kind heart.

When his owners approached me to paint him, I was thrilled.  We met up at a dog show and I took a number of photos of him.   The photos which were my primary reference photos were taken in the shade.  He'd really been squinting in the sun therefore, we moved him to get some shots of him in a cooler area.   We didn't want him to become too warm and start panting.  

Three photos were used to create this painting.  One was his primary reference pose, another was for his eye shape (where he was fully relaxed and not squinting at all) and lastly a photo taken from him sitting in the direct sun for his coat coloring.

Kobe lives in Arizona.  His people family wanted a southwestern background.   I have a ton of photos in my reference library from all my trips between California and visiting my family in, reference photos of Arizona were plentiful.

Thank you to Kobe's family for having me painting him.   It was a wonderful experience and I'll keep a place in my heart for this wonderful dog!


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Border Terrier Portraits

Several months ago a secret project was completed.  Three individual portraits of three border terriers were painted that were to be given as Christmas presents.   After the paintings were commissioned, the senior dog of the three, Chloe, was unexpectedly lost to illness.   I saved her painting until last to paint.  Chloe held such a special place in Amy's heart, it was very emotional for me to paint her.

It has been so much fun being part of secret Christmas presents.  This year has been a record in creating them for folks. 

Over the past six months paintings have been completed and shipped off to be given to loved ones on this special holiday.

These three paintings were shipped to Amy's mother to keep the paintings out of her home so her husband wouldn't find them.  Thank you to "Mom" for helping Amy keep her surprise.

I'd shipped the paintings a few months ago.  It has been a long wait for Amy to post the paintings on Facebook so that I could in turn post them myself.

Thank you Amy for letting me be part of your Christmas!  

Monday, December 22, 2014

Australian Shepherd Painting


This is a painting recently finished that was a surprise Christmas gift. Turbo, is a rescue Australian Shepherd. Years ago Turbo was in a shelter with no family. He'd been there for several months which was unusual for the staff to keep an animal that long. Some very kind people came along and found that he was slated to end his stay the next day. They couldn't allow that to happen and Turbo went home with them.

Turbo is now 12 + years old and having health problems. When his owner, Lori, came to me to paint him as a Christmas gift for her husband, my heart melted. Lori sent me a number of photos of Turbo. The one that made me take a deep breath was the one of him years ago laying on a bed with the most adorable blonde haired child. That child came to my home tonight with her parents (now a lovely young woman and a college graduate) to pick up the painting.

What a wonderful life this family has given Turbo and what a precious gift of love he has given them in return. It was an honor to paint him for them. Merry Christmas to the Robertsons!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

This is a painting of Tori, CH Jewelset What Dreams R Made Of, ROM.

The painting was to be a surprise Christmas present for Tori's family.  I asked the person who commissioned the painting to give me some background on their relationship with Tori's owners.   Here is a glimpse of what she told me:

     "Through Julie and Kim, I discovered the excitement of going to dog shows and I've met so many nice people,  I've held newborn puppies for the first time in my life, I've share victories and championships with them, they took me to my first National in Ohio, and have had more fun than I ever thought possible. I knew Tori was very special to Julie and Kim and I hoped with all my heart that this gift would bring them as much joy and happiness as they have given to me.  Thank you, Dawn, for helping me do this... XOXO"  

It is always a joy to paint for people.   There is something special about painting an animal for someone, that as an artist, I never expected.   It is almost impossible to put into words.  I can tell you, my heart skips a beat when I'm finished with the painting and hand it over to those who commissioned the work.  I had the same feeling when we had our puppies and handed the puppies over to their new families.   You have something you love in your hands that you are letting go of, but you know it is going to the home where it is supposed to be.  In that moment - there is warmness in my heart.

I hope you enjoy viewing the painting as much as I did painting it.   Thank you to Pat for allowing me to be part of your surprise.   Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book signing in San Diego - would love to see you there!

Our book, Show Dogs Escape to the Seashore, has been well received and won several awards.

Marsha has been awarded:
  • The Mom's Choice Award for Excellence
There is one illustration of a cat in the book.   To our humor and delight, the cat illustration is currently our award winning illustration.
  • Certificate of Excellence by the Cat Writers' Association, Inc.
  • Best Cat Illustration of the Year 2014 (Single Illustration category) by the Cat Writer's Association, Inc.
In addition, Show Dogs Escape to the Seashore has been nominated in three separate categories for the prestigious Maxwell Medal by the Dog Writers Association of America.  The categories are:
  • Best Single Illustration (in all genre)
  • Best Series of Illustrations (in all genre)
  • Best Children's Book
Winners will be announced in New York City at the annual Dog Writers banquet - the Hotel Pennsylvania on Feb 15, 2015
Books are available for sale on the book's website at  
If you are interested in one of the original illustrations, please let me know.  A number of them have been sold.  Please email me if you have a question concerning the originals - they are not yet on the book's website.
The next public book signing will be in San Diego, California at the landmark Hotel Del Coronado.
  • 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA, 92118, telephone 619-435-6611
  • Signing will be from 11 am - 3 pm on Saturday, December 20th.  The location will either be in the signature room on the mail floor or outside the Blue Octopus Toy Store.   Would love to see you there!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Borzoi - New Limited Edition Reproduction
New "Borzoi" reproduction is available.

The limited edition, museum quality prints, are 8" x 10" and available for $50.00.

Hope you like the art.   It was amazing when the dogs were photographed for this painting.  Just love the Borzoi - so kind and regal.. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cash is ready for Thanksgiving!

I told Cash this evening that he had to stay out of the whipping cream for the pies that are being made for tomorrow.   He gave me stink face.

Then, I told Cash he didn't get any turkey tomorrow.   He has been begging too much and grabbing our forks with his paw.    He is not pleased......

Monday, November 10, 2014

Golden Retriever Painting

This painting has been a while in the making.  I'd photographed the dogs over a year ago and their owners were going back and forth on which photos would best represent their furry family members.

The oldest one, Blonde, is the image on the top.  Misty, is on the left, and Cruiser is bottom right.   During this decision making process, the family lost their beloved Blonde.   She was a veteran dog in her senior years.  The loss hit the family hard and put the painting on hold.   No matter how long we have our dogs - no matter how old they live - their time with us is never enough.

Once Blonde's family was ready to tackle the project, it was discussed that the family didn't want Blonde and Misty shown as old as they were.   So, one major goal was to paint the dogs looking younger.   Secondly, the day had been quite windy when the photos were taken and the dogs were all squinting.   I used other reference photos to give me a clear idea of how each dog held their eyelids when the wind was not gusting.   The painting reflects the dogs with calm expressions and no squinting.

Below are photos of the finished painting as well as some of the reference photos for the painting.

It was so special to paint the dogs for this lovely family and I hope the painting brings smiles to their faces each time they look at it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Our pups are two years old!

This is Hannah - our red girl from the litter.   Her human parents are so much fun and take the kind of photos I take - dressing up the dogs and just having silly fun with them.

Rich and I always look forward to seeing Hannah.  Enjoy her birthday photos!  Am also going to include photos of her parents taken recently.   I see a little of both of them in her!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Getting the Point - a new limited edition print

This is my newest print release.  Sometimes the most difficult thing for me to do is to come up with a name for the painting.   So, thank you to Karolynne for the suggestion of the name, Getting the Point!

Getting the Point started out as an idea to change up my style a little bit.  Almost like wanting a new hair style.  The change folks that are familiar with my work will notice is that the back ground is different.   The colors are more muted and a little less detailed.  My goal was for the painting to be all about the dog and less about what was going on around the dog.

I started with a sanded board and did a light layer of pastel that was then brushed with turpenoid to create an under painting that was more like a watercolor painting.   Once that layer dried, I began layering subtle dry layers of pastel.  Those layers were "smudged" with my fingers and actual paint brushes to feather out any significant detail.

For the dog in the painting, the color was strong and detailed as usual.  The photo of this dog was taken while she was out in the field working.  I saw the reference photo and knew immediately that I had to paint her.  To date, all of my Irish Setter hunt scenes have featured a male dog.  So, it was thrilling to have a female to add to the collection.  I love seeing the dogs doing what comes naturally.  The pheasant in the painting was photographed by me, out in the field, a few years earlier.   In an ideal scenario the pheasant would have been further away from the dog.  However, to keep the gaze of the dog correct and keep the subjects as up close and personal as possible, the pheasant needed to be placed closer to the dog.

The original painting sold at a show.  It happened so quickly.   I hadn't had time before the show to take the painting in to be professionally photographed for reproductions.   Fortunately, the reproduction folks were able to work with some images I'd taken of the painting, so we were able to put the painting into print.
Hope you like this new painting and would love to hear your feedback on the back ground!  The prints are now available on my website at  specifically  or call me toll free at 866-393-7111.

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lisa and Lucy

This painting is of two Irish Setters (litter mates) named Lisa and Lucy.   The painting was done in pastel.

It is always fun to receive a new commission and to see the photos being sent to me for the painting (in the instances when I don't get to meet the dogs).    The girls "human mom" sent me the following photo and said, "Will this work?"   It was a great photo and the reflections in the girl's eyes were amazing.   Excitedly I told her it was a wonderful reference photo.

As the painting progressed we discussed background colors and decided to go with some fun lighter greens.    Those colors worked wonderfully with this painting.   We had discussed a more cedar color initially and then blues and greens, finally settling on the greens.

Hope you enjoy the viewing the painting as much as I did painting it.   Huge thank you to Holly for having me paint her beautiful babies!!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Irish Setter Painting - Erin and Cara

This is a painting I've been working on for a while.  It is a commission and was done in pastel.   I've been also working on three oil paintings at the same time.   Working on multiple paintings simultaneously keeps my eye fresh on each painting.

The reference photos for the painting are below as well as the finished painting.  The girls owner said the girls personalities were captured perfectly.  Erin, the older girl, is always more quiet and wanting attention.   Cara, on the other hand, is outgoing and always hunting squirrels.

Thank you to the girls owners for asking me to paint their precious dogs.  It has been wonderful getting to know them all better!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Italian Greyhound

Recently finished this painting of an Italian Greyhound.  The breeder was kind enough to allow me to photograph her dogs so I could add an IG to my line of reproductions. 

Since I am not as knowledgeable with IGs as I'd like to be, I asked her for feedback on which of my photos represented the breed most correctly.    She chose a handful of photos and then of those photos, I picked this one.
Hope the IG fancy welcomes this new print once it becomes available.   Now to think of a name for the print!