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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sunset at Dana Point - Painting in Progress

For the April 27th, 28th and 29th art show in Southern California. I have two more paintings in the works. Here is one I started a few weeks ago. It is 20 x 27 and is a sunset at Dana Point. My nephew took the photo and as soon as I saw it, I knew it had to be painted.

This photo reflects the very beginning stages of the painting. The painting is being rendered on acid free board. For the under painting, I mixed acrylic paint to create a gray taupe color and added that mixture to gesso. A thick layer of gesso was laid down with a wide brush.

Then, I wanted a more gritty service so I purchased some specially made stuff for pastels (like the secret sauce on the Big Mac - do you like my art terms!?!?!). The special stuff was applied using the same thick brush and leaving very defined brush strokes to give a unique visible texture to the finished painting.

Next, a piece of vine charcoal was used to create the sketch of the clouds and water. After the sketch, it was time to start laying down color. Here are some of the colors going down.

Check is coming along fabulously. Thanks for taking a peek!

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Painting of Oliver - Wire Haired Dachshund

Here is a painting just finished.   It is of a Wire Haired Dachshund named Oliver.

I was able to meet Oliver last year and take photos of him for his painting.   What a cutie pie he is.  I fell in love with him at once.  It is interesting how that happens.  He just touched my heart.   It was exciting to get his painting started, and now that it is finished, I am a bit sad.   Painting is more than work to me - it is my passion.   At the point the painting is finished, I almost feel like I've returned home from vacation.  It is good to be home (or finished) but the journey and experience will be missed.

When working on paintings, I usually have 2 or 3 going at the same time.   That way I keep a fresh eye on each one which helps me see areas that may need some adjusting.   It is interesting how the eye can become blind to something that you have become too focused upon.   Multi-paintings really do keep my eyes fresh.  While working on Oliver's painting, I was (am) also working on a seascape for an art show in April and a larger multi-dog painting.   Now that Oliver is done, I can move on to another commission that is already sketched out and ready to begin.   It is of a gorgeous boy named Ethan.  

I'd asked Oliver's human mom to share some words about him and here is what she said:

     As most know I lived with Rose and Ross at Meadowlark. After Rose’s knee replacement did go well she could no longer show the Irish. But Rose liked showing so we chose the standard wire haired dachshund. Our first litter in 2006 produced 7 puppies of which 5 finished. Oliver was from this litter, I just love this guy. Oliver finished first with three 5 point specially majors including the host show and the national. But he is more than a show dog, he’s my best friend, he can tell when I’m upset or happy, he’s just the most incredible dog!!!

Here is the reference photo.  His beard was a tad wild and needed to be brushed.  That was an easy fix in the painting.  Thank you Ivy for having me paint your special boy!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

California Otter Pup

In June of 2016 my husband and I traveled to Morro Bay, California to pick up a kitten (who will be 2 years old this week - where has the time gone???) and to my delight there was a bay full of sea otters with pups.   I took literally 100s of photos.

Here is the painting that was created.  The painting is small, 6" x 6", and is on sanded board.

The painting is a combination of several photos.   The otters were floating on a kelp bed.   The goal was to have a direct view of the pup's face in the painting.  I absolutely love painting the eyes of the animals.   The tiny paws of the pups were adorable and they just had to be in the painting. 

For the sanded board, I took an acid free coated board and put an additional coat of toned gesso for a gray / taupe colored under painting.  Then I took "pastel ground" a textured acrylic primer for grit to get a deeper tooth for the pastel.   I used a thick brush to apply the layers of gesso for even more texture.   It was not an experiment but rather a direction to create some unique feeling to the pastel painting.  In viewing the painting close up, one can see brush strokes in it.  When I paint in oil, I love to see the brush strokes.  My goal here was to give a brush stroke feeling to the pastel painting.

Hope you like it!  The painting will be on exhibit the last weekend of April 27th thru 29th, 2018.  If you will be in Southern California (San Dimas - which is about 1/2 hour from my home in Chino Hills - 1/2 hour from the Ontario CA Airport) please come by!  Would love to visit.

Here are a few of the photos taken in Morro Bay, California that were used for the painting.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A painting of Jenny and Troy

This painting had been planned for some time.  The family lives in a canyon with an abundance of beautiful plants and scenery.  After a few trips walking around their grounds we found the perfect setting.  We'd have the dogs sitting on some steps under an arbor.  The only down side, was the foliage wasn't in bloom.  So, we waited for Spring and the flowers blossomed and we had our background.   During one of our discussions, hummingbirds were the topic.  It was clear the owners of the dogs had a fondness for hummingbirds.  We talked about including a hummer in the foreground and everything just fell into place.

We took photos of the dogs, separately, in a number of locations.  It seemed they were really most photogenic and relaxed in the foyer, so those were the photos used.  

I'd asked Jenny and Troy's "parents" if I could work on their painting as a demo at the Kennel Club of Palm Springs and they agreed.   I'd worked on the painting off and on during December and then finished it in January.  

This painting was absolutely a blast to  plan and paint.   Jenny and Troy are amazing dogs and really were cooperative throughout the process.   Thank you to Suzanne and Don for having me paint their "fur" kids!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A painting of Finn

Here is a painting I've just finished of Finn.   I had the pleasure meeting him in person and taking photos of him.   The pose everyone liked of him the most had his ears flying in the wind.   His leash and collar obstructed clean lines of his neck.   I little adjusting here and there and Finn was staring back at me from my easel.

I asked Finn's human mom to share a few words about him.   Here is his story!

CH Captiva One Last Time, BN, RN, RA, THDN, TKN,CGC

Sir Finn is my heart dog, best friend and soul mate!  He is the kindest most gentle soul you can ever meet.  He loves me unconditionally and shows me that every single day.  Finn reads me like no other and is there for me always.  When I lost my mom, he was the one that helped me through it all and then loosing Liam too.  Finn’s therapy work excels with Alzheimer patient.  They can grab him or be rough and he will just lean into them and look into their eyes.  This boy of mine will try to do anything asked of him.  When people come to our home, Sir Finn is the dog they want to take home.  I am truly blessed to have him in my life!

Thank you Dawn for truly showing the love in his eyes.  It is just perfection! 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A painting of Katie as a pup

Several years ago I'd painted Katie as an adult.  She was a lovely girl and I was thrilled to paint her and her "brother."   Time has a way of passing without us realizing years have flown by. 

Katie's owner contacted me and informed me of Katie's passing.   She had decided to do a smaller painting of Katie as a pup.   Many of us don't have great photos from years before the "cell phone camera."   Cindy was going to have to look for Katie puppy photos and get back to me.   Photos were found, copied to a disk and mailed to me.  It was so special to see Katie as a pup in those photos.   All the while difficult.  We've all been there - the new pup - the life of memories and then the loss of our senior dogs.   Katie's lifetime was there in front of me.

It was time to paint the baby Katie and the painting just flowed.    I'd asked Cindy to share a little bit about Katie and she gave me her okay to share the story.  Here it is....

     In 2005, I attended a dog show with a friend and, of course, I had to see the Irish Setters. I have had Irish since 1973 but had been without one for 10 years as the heartache after my Kelly passed was just too much. I got to meet some beautiful, friendly dogs at that show. A few days later, I watched Westminster. The Irish in the group was none other than the incomparable Fonzie (BIS BISS Ch Saxony’s Snow in August) shown to perfection by Shelly. I was stunned by his beauty and determined that I wanted a Fonzie puppy to show even though I hadn’t shown a dog since grade school( my gram bred pugs). Shelly referred me to a breeder in Florida (Ellie Pusatari) who had bred to him. Thus, my Katie came into my life - my first Irish show dog and my first champion- and changed it forever. Thru her, I have met so many new friends and had so many new experiences. Katie, aka Ch Darnella’s Creme de Menthe CGC, was a diva and a princess. Incredibly smart and a quick study, she did nothing unless there was payment. She was part mountain goat and could be depended on to climb- counters, tables, bird baths, dog walks, and a-frames. She loved to watch TV and shred toilet paper rolls. Dawn had previously painted Katie with her half brother Rowan a few years ago. Katie passed last April at almost 12. I decided I wanted Dawn to do a puppy painting of my girl. I also wanted her to include Katie’s favorite toy - a mouse stuffy. I bought it before I got her and it was her first toy of her own. She never ripped it and always carried and cuddled it. It was her “baby”. She always brought it to me when I came home from work and it remains a remembrance. Miss you my Kater-Potater, my Fonzie baby.

Thank you Cindy for having me paint your special girl.  It is one of the greatest compliments, to an artist, when an art collector returns for additional paintings.   Here are some reference photos to enjoy.  Baby Katie and her favorite toy.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The story of Bailey

This is a pastel painting of Bailey. 

It is always so special to be asked to paint someones beloved pet.   When this painting was started, I knew Bailey had passed away earlier in the year.   It is emotional for me in those cases.  At the time each painting is started, 100% dedication is given to that painting as if no other paintings are on the waiting list.   That way there is no rushing - no pressure - just dedication to creating the best painting possible.
I'd asked Bailey's owners to share a bit with me about Bailey and here is what they shared:
      My husband Jim and I always had Irish from the beginning of our marriage. We became involved with ISCA after purchasing several dogs from Cheryl Mika. These boys trained my daughter to show them and to take care of them. As they got older we discovered we would have to look for a new breeder to purchase our setters. Enter Ginny Swanson. Ginny sent me Bailey, Tramore Just Because. Bailey was probably one of the smartest boys we had the pleasure to care for. He had the ability to walk into a stack and stay there...I would watch him effortlessly glide across the yard. Up till that point I never early understood what good movement looked like. It looked like Bailey!  We took him to the national in Michigan and he won the large 18 month old class. Cheryl Mika showed him flawlessly. That was a huge thrill. He had a beautiful dream coat . Long straight hair ....tons of hair that moved so effortlessly  with him . But far above his movement was his devilish personality. You could be sitting on the couch with him and turn to look at him and he was watching you with his side eyes. The second time you looked at him he would lunge at you.....never touched you, never bit, just to scare you....a game...he played. Loved to chase ball ....never brought back.....loved to walk on an extend lead out as far as he could go and prance back and forth.....loved the squirrels in the yard ....spent many an afternoon stacked in front of the tree.   We said goodbye earlier this year after 12.5 too short years. If I close my eyes he is still floating through the yard.

The photo submitted of Bailey had him sitting in front of a Christmas tree.  The question became, do we use that background or not?  Several things popped into my mind as the artist, would the lights and decorations take the focal point away from the main subject?  Possibly was the answer.   Secondly, would the painting seem "seasonal"?   Possibly was again the answer.    In the end, the choice was to go with the idea of the Christmas tree but it was not yet decorated.   It was the perfect solution.   The painting was all about Bailey and with this simpler background, there was no question about the focal point.   Bailey's owners will always know he was standing in front of their Christmas tree but there would be no distraction to take the viewers' attention away from Bailey.

Commission a painting by Dawn

Thank you to Bailey's owners for having me paint your special boy.  It was indeed my pleasure and honor.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Longhorns on the Ruby

This painting has a fun story. Well, in the long run it is a fun story. 

A dear friend and art collector took the photo for this painting in Montana a number of years ago.  At the time, I was in the process of creating paintings of Longhorn Cattle for a western art show that my work was to be exhibited in.

This collector had been on a fishing trip in Montana on the Ruby River and had taken a photo of a herd of Longhorn on his way home.   He emailed me the photo - excited for me to see it.  The reference photo was awesome and I thought it would make a wonderful painting someday.

A year or so passed and he asked me about the photo.  Of course I had it and would love to be able to paint it someday.  In my mind I thought, gee, I have a lot of commissioned work lined up.  I can not feasibly paint this painting to exhibit in a show at this time - but someday.

Another year plus passed  and he asked about the photo again. Yes, of course I had it - it was awesome.   I'd paint it someday.   Well, we were all together at one point and his wife said to me, "You know he is wondering when you are going to do the Longhorn painting."   I'm not sure how the question came about - but I asked her if he wanted me to paint that the Longhorns as a commission - to my horror he did.  Holy Smokes.    I never realized he took the photo and then desired for me to paint it.  With the timing of the photo and the western art show, I just thought he was being helpful and giving me additional reference material to use should I want to.  

We all "assume" things at one time or another and occasionally those assumptions can nip us in the buttocks.

To the gentleman with the patience of a saint, here is your long awaited painting.   The name of the painting is "Longhorns on the Ruby" and the painting will be put into print in the near future.   If you are interested in ordering a reproduction, please email me at or   

Here is a picture in process as well as the original photo:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Daisy - an Italian Greyhound

This is a painting of Daisy, an Italian Greyhound.

They are such a fun breed.  As stated on the Internet, "The Italian Greyhound is a small breed of dog of the sight hound type, sometimes called an "I.G.", "Iggy."   

I've gotten to know the breed better due to my art and what a fabulous breed they are.   They are smart - inquisitive and have the heart of a lion.   Of course, there have been a few that have stolen my heart and it is easy to see why they are so popular.

Daisy's owners gave me a number of photos of her - head shots as well as movement shots.   Then we met up at a dog show and I took "a lot" more...probably 75!    One can never have too much reference material.   When it came down to choosing which photos would be the primary reference photos they left the choices up to me.  Wow - what a responsibility - but also, wow - what freedom.   They didn't know what was chosen until the big reveal.   Nail biting I sent the image of the finished painting to them.  Here was their response, "OMG Dawn it’s perfect I love it!!"  

It was a great pleasure to paint this girl.  Hopefully, the painting warms their hearts for many many years.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Ziva - Painting of a Doberman Pinscher

This is Ziva.    She is a gentle kind girl with the most beautiful brown eyes.

I met her owners probably 7 years ago when creating another painting of a different dog for them.   We met in the LA area and they did not have their dog with them.  Fortunately, a few months later, I would be traveling in Northern California.   We were able to met up so I could photograph their dog.

Jumping ahead several years, now it was Ziva's turn for her painting.   We met up in Palm Springs where I could take photos of Ziva.   She truly is a breathtaking girl - I fell in love with her.   We took numerous photos of her for reference material.  It was a difficult choice to pick a primary pose - Ziva is quite photogenic.   The photo chosen was not an ideal photo of her ears being up and alert.   The other reference photos allowed me to see different ear positions so the ear position could be changed in the painting.  Also, there were some really circular highlights on her coat that were distracting in the painting.  They were first painted in, but later I took them out.  They just looked odd.  My eye didn't question the highlights in the photos.  But, in the painting, it just wasn't right and needed to be adjusted.  Lastly, there was a significant shadow cast on her chest from her muzzle that didn't need to be in the painting.   Photos are just a road map for me to get to "that" dog's painting but I am most certainly not attempting to copy a photo.   My paintings have to be better than the photo or why have a painting.

The painting was finished several months ago.   It is always wonderful to ship the paintings to those who commissioned the work, but sad for the painting to leave my studio.   It is funny, they are like my children.   My heart is is every painting.

My normal system is to display the finished painting in my office for a week or two to clear my head.   I then take time to view the painting and make sure nothing jumps out that would need an adjustment.   It is amazing how a fresh eye can reveal things that previously went unnoticed.  So much time is spent with each painting, it seems like I simply become too familiar with the piece.   A clean fresh eye is a great chance for me to do a double take.   More often than not, no changes are needed.  Once in a while something jumps out that may need a little tweak.

Thank you to Ziva's family for having me paint for you again.   It is an honor.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A painting of Liam

It is always so touching to be asked to paint a dog who is no longer with his family.  We have all been there.   Liam was a very special dog and left way too soon.

Here is Liam's story:

Liam’s registered name is  “ Glendine Sweet William, CGC, RN “. 

There is a saying that a person gets the dog they are meant to get and no truer words were said about my life with my boy Sir Liam!  Liam joined our family after a 22 year hiatus from having Irish setters due to the loss of my extremely precious and bonded girl,  my Katie.  I must admit, Liam was the smartest dog I have ever owned.  I could show him something once and he would know it forever.  He knew every toy by name and also all his close family by name.  At parks, Liam would climb ladder and go down slide just because he could.  He was amazing at agility too.  Liam loved everyone and everything.  All he ever wanted to do was to please us.  Unfortunately, Liam was not a healthy boy.  I cannot even count as to how many ICU stays he had but he always came home better and happy with good quality of life.  Three specialist did not think he would live to be 2 years old.  But my boy Liam refused to quit.  We were blessed with having him in our hearts and lives for 5 ¾ years.  We said goodbye on December 6, 2016 and our hearts and soul still ache to have him back with us.  Thank you so much Dawn for doing this special portrait of Liam to allow us to be able to see him daily!  

It is an honor to have been asked to paint Liam.  To Liam's family, I hope the painting warms your heart and brings those special memories to you each time you look at it.