Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A painting of Oscar and Scooter.

This painting was commissioned to be given as a gift.

Within a year's time, the recipient of the painting lost her beloved dog, Oscar, and her horse, Scooter.

What a huge loss.  My heart always hurts when hearing of the loss of another person's pet. I hope my art will help soothe their pain.   If not now, hopefully in the future when their heart is healing.

I asked the gift giver to share a little bit about Oscar and Scooter, this is what she told me:

Oscar was a rescue that my friend Christy took in many years ago.  Oscar did agility but as Christy would say, he did it because he wanted to please her.  Oscar was retired after receiving his PACH and was Christy’s constant companion. He loved going to the barn to be with his horse, Scooter, but most of all he loved Christy.  Oscar was an easy going dog that was loved by all that knew him.  Unfortunately, Oscar died suddenly earlier this year and left us heartbroken.  He was one of a kind and is missed each and every day.

Hoping Oscar and Scooter are running again, together, in lovely green pastures.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A painting of Calypso

This is a painting Calypso created in pastel.

I'd photographed her twice for the painting and her owner kept going back to a photo taken of her as a young dog.  There are times when we have to follow our hearts.

A little fun backgriund information is that Calypso had a litter of pups two years ago.   Her daughter closely resembles this reference photo.  Her pup, Lyric, is a mini me (ha ha).  The pup was sired by my dog, Drew.   It is always amazing how things happen.  Back when it was first discussed for me to paint Calypso, it would have never have been on my radar that her owner would one day use my dog in her breeding program.  Some things are just meant to be.

I hope you enjoy the painting.  As always, it is such a gift when someone wants me to paint their dog.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A painting of Rogan

Rogan is such a cool dog.  He shows us what can be done with an Irish Setter.   He has beauty, brains and a loving gentle personality.

It always is so sad when people see me with one  of my dogs and say (something like this) - "Oh, I used to have one of those when I was a kid.  They are such stupid dogs."   It is always awkward - do I respond negatively as their statement is insulting, or do I try to be kind.   The kindness wins out everytime.  But, there is a little voice screaming inside me trying to get out. 

Irish Setters are very smart dogs.  Do they have a lot of energy?  Well, yes, they are sporting dogs - bred to work the field all day.   They have to  have the drive and build to do so.   As they get older, they quiet down.  Just like we do.   I remember as a child jumping on the bed with gusto and glee.  It was awesome, it was exhilarating.   Would I do that now?  No way - I'd  probably fall off  and break my leg or something.   Ha Ha.  Point is, Irish Setters are very smart dogs and can accomplish whatever we ask of them.   It comes down to the same thing for all dogs, the more time we spend with them, the more they are trained and socialized.   Our dogs, regardless of the breed, can do so much - it is up to us.

I asked Jeanne, Rogan's owner, to share a little bit about him and this is what she shared:

      GCh Ch Roclyn Rockafella, CD BN RE CGCA (Rogan) is a sweet, loving boy who excels in both the show ring and in performance events.

Thank you Jeanne for having me paint your boy.   It was my pleasure.   Below are the reference photos I took of him for the painting (plus one taken by another party).  It was a hard choice to decide which photo would be the primary reference photo.   When we are having a challenge  picking the photo for the painting, I like to put the top choices side by side.  It helps the elimination process.

Friday, August 17, 2018

A painting of baby Rowan

I remember meeting Rowan like it was yesterday.  The first time he looked at me I melted.    He is a wonderful dog.   It was very exciting when his owner expressed an interest in having me paint him as a baby now that he is a veteran.
My husband and I have paintings of our dogs when they were pups.  There is something special about having the adult painting of a dog and seeing our dogs as they currently are, but there is something that is very heart warming about capturing those priceless moments when they were wee ones.

A number of photos were considered when approaching this painting.  The direct eye connection with the viewer that was captured in this baby photo really touched me.   I knew it would make a great painting.   So glad Rowan's owner agreed.

Rowan's owner offered to share with us a little bit about her special boy - here is a peek into this special dog, Rowan....

  Rowan (AKA Darnella’s Autumn Riverdancer CGC) came into my life on a cold December day in 2008. Arriving on a flight from hot and sunny south Florida, this scared 12 week old puppy landed at O’Hara Airport to snow and cold. The Chicago cops who helped me load his crate into my van thought he was a blood hound puppy. Fortunately, his half-sister Katie welcomed him immediately into our small family with only a touch of the diva.  His show career never materialized but he is all and more that an Irish Setter companion should be. He is so sweet, gentle, and loving. He was a perfect therapy dog for my mom before she passed at age 97 - always gentle and loving. He was a favorite at her nursing home before she passed. He is, without a doubt, my Heart Dog and a Velcro boy to boot.  He is facing some serious health issues right now but I am hoping we still have some good times together.
Thank you to his owner Cindy for having me paint him again and for sharing his story with us!

Monday, August 13, 2018

A painting of Ray and Roderick

This painting was finished a few weeks ago. It has been shipped and in the hands of the lovely lady who commissioned the piece. Her two boys, Ray and Roderick, are at the hunt tests regularly and are awesome dogs. I was able to meet them both last year and take photos of them.

Their owner supplied additional photos of them actually out in the field. I always say, "The more photos, the more reference material for the painting!" The background for the painting is from an actual competition with Ray. (And speaking of Ray - the dog in front) he happens to be a pup out of my dog, Drew. So, he is Bling's half brother. The resemblance in their eyes is uncanny.

Huge thank you to Yana for having me paint for you. It was an honor!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Dog Bling - a Children's Book in the Making

Many of you know I've been working on writing and illustrating a children's book.  The dummy has been completed and is being sent out to agents.  Woo Hoo!!  The main character of the book is a dog Bling.   Bling is my dog and she is an Irish Setter.   Her best friend in the book is a goldfish named Sushi.  Sushi is a real fish too.  Bling travels the country with me - visiting friends, family, hanging out in my art booth as my mascot, and going to dog shows.  

When creating a dummy book, an illustrator does not complete all the illustrations.  The goal is to have a few illustrations to show an agent or publisher what your work would look like.   The agent or publisher may have other ideas for the book and it is a waste of time and effort to do too much before finding an agent or publisher.   My proposed cover is done and a few of the page illustrations.

The above image is the first illustration I'd completed for the dummy.   To promote the book and Bling's Facebook page, I am doing an art giveaway featuring this first illustration.   This original illustration was painted in pastel and is framed.

If you are interested in winning the work - please go to Bling's Facebook page at:

There is no cost and the shipping of the artwork is free as well.   All you need to do to enter is follow the instructions on Bling's Facebook page to enter.

Bling also has a website now and a fan page for children to receive messages from Bling (with the approval of their parents of course).   Bling's website is    Go take a peek!

For those of you interested in winning the artwork - good luck and thank you for your support of Bling and my children's book.   If you are an agent or publisher and are interested in seeing the dummy or reading the manuscript, please email me at  ...

Thanks so much!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Thru an artist's eyes...August 3, 2018

This morning was another "pull over quickly and take that photo" day!  

While driving, I came across a huge cactus standing proudly in all its glory.   This mature majestic plant was flowering and had the largest soft yellow blooms I'd ever seen on a cactus.   Without hesitation, I threw the car in reverse, backed up to be parallel with the cactus, put the hazard lights on (sometimes the left side of my brain engages), and jumped out of the car.

With cell phone in hand, I was looking up at the cactus in seconds.  The cactus was even more amazing standing next to it.   It was hard not to question the age of this plant.  Who had passed by it for how many years?   Had Native Americans ridden their horses by this cactus in years passed or was it just a place to find shade for the occasional road runner or rattlesnake?  My cell phone camera was clicking away.   The cactus had to be 10 to 12 feet high.   The morning light was illuminating the blossoms with strong shadows being cast in the folds of the plant.  The scene was mesmerizing.  Then reality snapped me out of my trance and I thought, "Wow...I wonder if the home owners are watching me?"   At that very second, about 6 feet away from me, the car door opened from the car parked in the circular driveway.   A man exited.  I jumped.  The beauty of the cactus was so fixating, the fact a person was sitting there watching me had completely gone unnoticed.

Quickly explaining my art and quest to take photos for a blog, the home owner started laughing.   He didn't mind me being in his yard.   We had a wonderful conversation.  He confirmed the cactus was quite old and had been cut back a number of times.  He also told me the fruit was edible and offered me some.   Politely declining, he was thanked for his kindness and we both had a great laugh.  Walking the short distance to my car, I had to wonder...what was more beautiful - the cactus or the enjoyable conversation and laughter with a complete stranger.   Let's call it a draw.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thru an artist's eyes...August 2, 2018

Our senior dog, Monet, is rapidly approaching her 12th birthday.   She hasn't changed a bit.  Yes, her face is white and her gait not quite as spry....but her eyes...they are still the same as they were 12 years ago.   She has this zest for life that shines through her eyes.
There is something magical about the eyes - notice with Monet's eyes how the wetness reflects the objects in front of her like a mirror.   Look closely.   We can see the reflection of the blue sky, of me kneeling in front of her with my cell phone to take the photos - even the driveway and surrounding foliage. The white hair of her face envelopes her darker eye which is the focal point of this photograph.   Isn't it fun to take the time to look a little more deeply into the photo and see these small finer points.   There is so much beauty in this photo.  The beauty of the dog, the beauty of the flowering Crepe Myrtle tree and the hints of the blue sky peeking through.

 Next time you look at an image, take a moment to look a little more deeply and find something you didn't expect to find.  There may be visual surprises in the subjects you didn't think would be fascinating or beautiful..

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Through an artist's eyes....August 1, 2018

I went to the post office today.  Really not a big deal.   I decided to drive the long way home through the city rather than on the freeway.  At the top of a hill, the view was spectacular.   It made me pull over, step into the middle of the street, and just admire it.  (thankfully it was a quiet street and no traffic)

Standing there in the middle of the street - quite literally - I attempted to count all the colors before me.  This was impossible to accomplish for fear of traffic at some point.   Then it hit me.  This would be a great blog topic - how does an artist see things?   How often do we stop and just admire what we see?   What do the shapes created by cast shadows resemble?   How many colors are in the drop of water from the sprinkler on the rose pedal?  I am always stopping and taking photos of these little bits of beauty with my cell phone.  Right then and there an inner commitment was made.   Each day is a day to celebrate.  Each day I will find something beautiful and share it through the eyes of an artist.   So, today is my first day of sharing.

Here is the view that compelled me to stop the car and stand in the middle of the street like a fruit cake.  The mountains in Southern California are gorgeous.   It amazes me how different the colors are in the distance.   This is caused by moisture in the air - atmospheric perspective (a topic for another post).  The farthest hills are a deep blue while the next layer of hills are purple.   Looking at this scene, one can feel the words "Purple Mountains Magesties"  from the poem, America the Beautiful.   Do you know...."Purple mountain majesties" refers to the shade of the Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which, according to Wikipedia,  inspired Bates to write the poem.

Life is a journey - be inspired everyday.   Let beauty stop you in your tracks.   Take a moment and enjoy all that surrounds you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Ghoulish Green Monster Illustration

Here is the finished illustration of the ghoulish green monster which was created for the children's book I've written and illustrated.   I can't spoil things and tell you any more!

The illustration is based on my chickens - silkies.   You know, some people are afraid of chickens.  My husband actually has a chicken fear.  His fear is that I will get more of them - :)

The first illustration was done on my tablet digitally.
The final illustration was done in pastel.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Painting of Mulligan

This is Mulligan.  A gentle soul gone too soon.   He was lost to a medical condition at the tender age of 7, a day shy of his 8th birthday.   Having lost a pet too early myself, the question always plagues us; is it better to have had these beloved pets for a fraction of their presumed lifespan or not?  For my husband and I, the answer is unequivocally - yes.

Mulligan was a dog that I had the pleasure of visiting in person on a number of times.   He loved me instantly and I him.   There was a gentleness about him that warmed your heart.

At the time we took photos of him for his painting, he hadn't been groomed.  The question was do "I" groom him in the painting or not?   His owner was on the fence.  However, her father (in his 80s) wanted this special boy groomed in the painting.   I've been grooming Irish Setters since 1984 - I know the jaw lines, the cheek bones, how the skin rests on the neck.  No groomed photos were necessary.

His family now has a new boy to fill the void in their lives left by Mulligan.   And a friend for this new family member is on the horizon.  They've had two Irish Setters in the past, so a second dog is going to be ideal.  Our lives are so enriched by our pets.   As difficult as it is to bring in a new pet when we lose one, that new pet finds a special place in our hearts and brings their own joy for us to share.

Thank you to the family for having me paint Mulligan.  He was truly one of a kind.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Dani and Scorch - Litter Mates

Here is an original pastel painting of Dani and Scorch.

I was working on this piece while at the National recently. Originally, I was only going to be painting Dani. Then Scorch's owner died and he was returned to his breeder, Diane. He was able to be reunited with his litter mate, Dani, which is bittersweet. 

I had photographed Dani a while back.    Currently, she is as gray in the face as Scorch. For their painting, I loved the contrast between the darker faced Dani and they graying face of Scorch. Diane agreed. We left the colors on the dogs painting as in the reference photos - rather than showing Dani as she is now, gray like Scorch. 

Below are the reference photos for the painting.   There were so many photos to chose from.  The fun angles of their heads jumped out at me immediately.   I knew these were the two reference photos for the painting, but would Diane agree.  And she did!

Thank you to Diane for having me paint her babies. It was my honor.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Carly and Colleen - Painting of Two Irish Setters

The two subjects in this painting are named Carly and Colleen.   They are as sweet as they can be!   Though I understand they are also very "Irish" and can be mischievous.  When I was with them, they were adorable and very good about having their photos taken!

We'd taken photos of them last year on the East Coast.  It is so much fun to photograph dogs and then see their personalities show through in the photos.  Their reference photos are shown at the bottom of this post.

When it was time to do the painting we settled on two lovely photos as the primary reference material.  For Carly, our favorite reference photo had her mouth open just a tad.  So, in her image in the painting, I closed her mouth.   For Colleen, she was squinting a bit, so I opened her eyes a tad more than in the reference photos.

The beauty of  painting is the freedom in  using reference material.  I am not locked into using everything in the photo.   I can omit, add, enhance, downplay, and or create whatever is needed to make the painting something special and unique.    Of course, the better the reference material, the more I can put into the painting.   Photographing animals is not easy.  My hat is off to professional photographers - wow - their job is one I greatly respect.

Thank you to Anne for having me paint your gorgeous girls.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A painting of 4 boys

This painting had been in process for a while.  With four dogs in the piece, there was a great deal of thought and discussion about the composition.

The bottom two dogs, Reilly and Rusty, had passed.  Therefore, reference material was limited.   Thankfully, their owners had some lovely snap shots from years passed.

The top two dogs, Grady and Patrick, are with us and we had plenty of opportunity to get reference material.  Grady - top left - is much grayer in the face than depicted.  For the painting, his owners wanted less gray shown in the painting.  Then there is Patrick - upper right.   He was not as interested in having his photo take as was Grady.   It took a little more work to get a photo everyone was happy with.   My goal was a reference photo that would compliment the blend of poses into our composition of the 4 dogs.   Most importantly, his owners wanted a reference photo that showed his true expression.   It took a while to get "that" photo of Patrick.  In the end - we were all pleased.  I had a wonderful photo for the painting and they had a photo that was truly their boy.

I've asked them to share a little bit about their boys.  Below is the story of Grady, Patrick, Reilly and Rusty!

Reilly came to us after we had lost our first Irish Setter.  He was a joy to have from the very first day.  He loved everyone especially his Kitty friend Noel. they were inseparable. Reilly enjoyed  Agility Rally Obedience ,Hunting,  but he excelled as a  therapy dog.  Hr worked with oncology patients  and  the memory impaired  . It was amazing to watch him interact with these people they all loved him.  Another of my very favorite activities that we did was to work at the local library doing the R.E.A.D. program  The children loved to read stories to him , had birthday parties and wrote books about him. He even had his own Mail Box were the children would write letters to him Reilly was very special to me.

Our breeder of Reilly decided he needed a friend , Rusty came to us from the rescue of Vermont.  they were just about the same age.  Rusty immediately  took to Reilly  they would sleep and play together.  It was like they had known each other forever. Rusty never like obedience, agility, he just wanted to be close to you all the time.  Rusty joined Reilly also becoming a Therapy and R.E.A.D. dog.  He was very gentle and would put his head in the persons lap to be petted.  Rusty became know as "BIG RED" by all his friends.

We had tragically lost Reilly and felt Rusty needed a companion  Grady came to live with us.  Again Rusty accepted this puppy like his own.  Grady was a very fast learner. If you showed him something once he would never forget it.  He has been working on his Ch title,  Just recently got his beginner novice title with a first place finish in a all breed trial.   Also at the same time got his Novice Rally title with a 2nd place at at last years Nationals in RI.

And then there is PATRICK, he is the  Patrick on his first day as at our home caught a baby bird.  There is not a day that goes by when he does not gets into trouble.  One minute is very lovable and then that devilish personality   He is also showing and just needs his Majors. He is very mischievous, has chewed several pair of glasses, hides my shoes, ate my watch .  Always thinking of what he can do next. He loves to just be by my side 

They all have different personalities  I love them all  

Thank you for the very special picture of my "BOYS"

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pastel Painting of Ethan

I've never met Ethan, he lives in Australia.   The good news is, I've met Ethan's number one fan.   Not sure he would call himself Ethan's dad.  Though, my husband is the "dad" to our dogs.   So, I'm going to call Ethan's human, his dad.

Last year, I met up with Ethan's dad at a show (we'd known each other for a while).   I was working on a commission there at the grounds.    Ethan's dad is a real hoot - a character - a man oooozing with personality.   Not sure exactly how it happened, but Ethan's dad ended up at my easel feigning to be working on my painting in progress.   The antics were captured in this photo and then promptly forwarded on to the owner of said painting - who lives in New Zealand.  Would she be in fear of what Ethan's dad was doing to her painting?   We all had a great laugh.

So, while on these fun "goings ons" were happening, Ethan's dad showed me this picture of Ethan that was on his cell phone (dad's phone, not Ethan's).   Would that photo be usable as reference material for a painting.  Of course it would!!

In the photo, Ethan's eyes totally captivated me.  I couldn't wait to paint them!  He just melted my heart.

This painting was finished last month and it will be headed to Australia in the near future.   A huge thank you to Ethan's dad for trusting me to paint his special boy.