Monday, December 13, 2010

Cutest Christmas Commission

Just a quick note to share a recent commission of Atka, one of my cutest subjects ever!  (He does have the advantage of being a puppy, and I've never seen a not-cute puppy, but still, that is one sweet face.)

Here's the photo I worked from, for comparison's sake -- you can see what a big difference cropping and enlarging the subject make.

I definitely loved working on this portrait.  It is a surprise Christmas gift - I can't wait to find out how it's received!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another Top Five List: Christmas Dogs

I just unpacked a slew of boxes from the attic full of holiday decorations and paraphernalia, including a box labeled "books." Over the years my family has acquired quite a collection of Christmas-themed books, even though everyone here is technically beyond the appropriate age for them (except me, I love looking at the illustrations and always will).  After some relaxing couch time perusing this library, I noticed that there were a LOT of dogs featured in these tales.  So, herewith my second top five Dogs Illustrated in Kids Books list, this time featuring Christmas story illustrations:

5. Carl's Christmas by Alexandra Day.  Realistically rendered Rottweiler meets Santa!

4. The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Cheryl Harness.   Basset Hound in Victorian-style house meets  . . . Santa.

3.  The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy, illustrated by Gertrude Elliott Epenscheid (her real name!).  Sweet Collie-esque puppy gets an entire orphanage of boys to live with on Christmas Eve (Santa not featured).

2.  Auntie Claus illustrated by Elise Primavera.  Mirror-image mutts have jobs with Santa.

1.  Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs.  Santa is an animal lover. 
I knew it!

Keep peaceful during this holiday season, everyone.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rainbowdog in the News! (Kind-of)

Several months ago I sent a dogs-and-art news tip to Moira McLaughlin, artist and author of the blog Dog Art Today. (My suggestion included information about a documentary called The Art of the Steal and the Barnes Foundation in Merion, PA.) Not only did Moira write a great article, but she was gracious enough to mention Rainbowdog and to link to my website.  What lovely publicity! We're barking for joy here at Rainbowdog, frankly.  You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Here's the movie trailer to whet your appetites, but be sure to visit Dog Art Today to see the whole story!

Thanks, Moira!  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Art Helping Animals

I've been recently invited to join the group Art Helping Animals, a fellowship of artists dedicated to helping animals in need.  How does it work? Artists post work for sale on the website (actually a blog) and designate what percentage of the total purchase price will go to a specific animal rescue charity.  This allows people to purchase beautiful art and help unfortunate animals with one fell swoop.  How great is that?

Art Helping Animals was founded in 2006, and has raised more than $76,000 to benefit animals to date.  That's quite an impressive track record, and I'm very flattered and excited to be part of the group.

I've got two artworks posted for sale right now.  The first, "Three Dog Night," is a fabric 'painting,' created entirely from recycled fabric and felted sweaters, hand-sewn and embroidered.

This artwork measures 14 x 18 inches and comes framed, under glass.  The frame is also up-cycled, a wooden frame I painted in cream to complement the colors in the picture.  Three Dog Night is listed for $185 including shipping, with 15 percent of the purchase price going to Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals

The second work I've listed is "Basset Hound Blues."

This mixed-media work measures 8 x 10 inches.  The hound is painted in acrylic, with a watercolor wash background on watercolor paper.  Basset Hound Blues is listed for $75,  with 15 percent of the purchase price going to Old Dog Haven

Come check out my art and the work of the other hard-working, animal-loving artists at Art Helping Animals.  Maybe you'll find the perfect holiday gift for someone special - your purchase would be a gift to animals in need as well.

Email me if you'd like to buy! The money still goes to the charity whether you purchase directly from the blog or through Art Helping Animals.

Thanks, everyone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hooray for Hollywood

Here is my most recent commission, a portrait of Hollywood.  He's not actually a Labradoodle as I had thought when I first glanced at his photos, but a Cockapoo, a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle. Handsome boy, no?  This is actually the second portrait I've done of Hollywood.  The first can be seen in my Rainbowdog gallery, where he's posing in front of the Hollywood sign.

There is still time to commission your own personal pet portrait for the holidays!  These portraits make wonderful gifts, and the special introductory (and so affordable!) price of $125 for a 12 x 12 inch portrait is available until October 31.  Let me color your holidays for you.  Email me at to get the process started.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Painting a Memory

One of my latest commissions is of this beauty named Zoe. Sadly, Zoe passed away recently, and her owner Diana wanted a portrait of her beloved companion -- half Chesapeake Bay Retriever, half chocolate Lab -- as a keepsake.   I frequently paint memorial portraits, and customers always tell me how much they enjoy having a custom artwork to commemorate a special relationship with a pet.
Here's what Diana wrote me when she saw the portrait: 

"Janet, I love it! The use of color around her eyes is truly amazing.  You captured her gaze perfectly and the pink in the background and the way you incorporated it into her coat totally suits her.  If I didn't know otherwise, I would think that you had met her...........I couldn't be happier with the portrait!   
I am so glad that I found your Rainbowdog website.  You are incrediblytalented and thanks to you I will be able to "see" Zoe everyday when I look at her portrait." 

Now that's the kind of endorsement that makes it all worthwhile!  Thank YOU Diana.

Diana purchased a 12 x 12 inch portrait of Zoe, which not only suited her available wall space, but also saved her quite a bit, since the 12 x 12 inch is still at the introductory price of $125.  Commission one before October 31 to receive the same introductory pricing!.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hey Kids, Look What I Found in the Garbage!

I've always loved making great finds in the things other people put out in the trash.  My husband and I practically furnished our first apartment with the discards of other lives.  The attraction isn't just that one finds cool things --

Me:  OMG look at this typewriter I found today!  It actually works!  If Pottery Barn could replicate these, tasteful living rooms across America would be graced with imitation-authentic Antique Accents -- but I have the real deal!
Teenaged Children: Mother, you are pathetic.

As you can see, my enthusiasm for 'garbage' is high.  (The fact that this enthusiasm embarrasses my children is just gravy.)

I also keep an eye on other people's discards because I feel bad about how much we all acquire and throw away in this country.  I've been trying to find a way to connect my feelings about over-consumption and under-recycling to my pet painting business for a while, and think I've come up with a way.

What do you see when you look at this cabinet (also rescued from the street this morning)?

If you said, "ugly, old, blue cabinet," you would be only partially correct. I also see many square inches of 1/2 inch solid wood, waiting to be cut up with a circular saw and used as the support for quite a few paintings.  Yes, it will take more work to cut this baby up and sand and prep each piece than it would to buy some canvases from my local art-supply store.  But that extra work will not only keep this cabinet out of the landfill, it will also reduce my consumption (I'll buy fewer new canvases) AND recycle an old, beat-up piece of furniture into something new and beautiful.

I'll keep you posted on my progress in realizing this goal: ultimately, I'd like to have all the Rainbowdog Pet Portraits painted on recycled surfaces.  What do you think about that?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How'd They Get Those Dogs to Do That?

Anyone who loves dogs should check out this video from OK Go, if you haven't already. It's an amazing mix of performance art and doggie cuteness.

This is the official video of the song White Knuckles.

Thank God Almighty, I'm Free at Last!

Would it be too politically incorrect to rant about my mother-in-law in this space? I don't want to seem mean-spirited, but we just got finished with a long weekend visit with the MIL, and frankly, I think the things that come out of her mouth are far more extreme than the ones you can read on "S%#* My Dad Says." (Except not profane, just inane.)

Let's have a sampling, shall we?

The Scene: MIL has recently arrived from a visit with Other Son's family.

MIL: I have this wonderful picture of me with [Other Son's children], and it's so fabulous, and everyone says, "Oh, that should be on your Christmas card!" Then I also have a picture of me with [our college age daughter], and then I need one more with these last two grandchildren [our two that live at home].
Me: It might be hard to fit three photographs on one card. How will you do it?
MIL: You're right. Maybe I'll just use the first one and leave out your kids.

The Scene: MIL and me at the computer, me having just uploaded all the pictures from her new (and first) digital camera to my computer

Me: See, that's how you can put the pictures on your computer when you get home, and you can look at them or email them to your friends!
MIL: I don't know how to send a picture in an email.
Me: It's easy!  See this little icon that looks like a paperclip? Well--
MIL: I'm lost.


ML: If I click something on Google (she's heard of Google!!) and then I don't want to see that website anymore, how do I see the things in Google again? Do I have to delete the website?
Me: No, just click the back button.
MIL: What's a back button?
Me: See these little triangles up here on the --
MIL: I'm lost.


Me: You know, there are lots of classes for older folks to help them get comfortable with technology, where you can learn to manage your digital photos, and --
MIL: I don't need a class! I'm great with computers! I know all about cut and paste and everything!
Me:  . . .

The Scene: Dinner, Second Night

MIL: I'm leaving my diamond engagement ring to Granddaughter, so I'm putting it in a box with her name on it. [Wags finger.]  If someone gets there first and takes it, be sure to look for it.
Me: Who would get there first?
MIL: You never know what might happen.
Me: Well, if you really want to be safe, I think you can leave specific instructions about who gets what things in your will.
MIL: Just get there first.

On reflection, I think this probably IS mean-spirited, but happily, I'm confident the MIL won't navigate her way here to see what I've written (see "I'm lost," above).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Size, New (Bargain) Introductory Price!

Introducing a new, smaller size of Rainbowdog, just perfect for that family room nook, kitchen wall or unused corner of your house, or the house of a special hard-to-shop-for someone. Clocking in at a manageable 12 by 12 inches, these new "mini" Rainbowdogs are available for a limited time for only $125. What a steal!

The picture below should help you get some perspective on the various sizes of the Rainbowdogs.

In this shot are Chu Chu the Yorkie on the new 12 x 12 inch size, Tinkers the cat on what used to be the smallest size, a 16 x 16 inch canvas, and two of my favorite dogs, Roxy and Sylvie, pictured larger-than- life on a 24 x 36.  Sylvie herself is also in the picture along with my daughter Bridget, on the theory that everything looks better if pictured with a 17-year-old beauty.

Order by October 15  to secure the new, introductory pricing.  Due to its smaller size, the 12 by 12 incher can only accommodate one pet.  But at this price, you can order several and hang them together for a fabulous display.

After October 15 the price will rise to $195, so order now, and please tell your friends.  This offer isn't limited, so individuals may order multiple portraits.

Here's one more shot, which I just wanted to include because Sylvie the real dog and Sylvie the portrait are so in synch it makes me laugh.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to visit Rainbowdog Pet Portraits on facebook for more updates, contests and photos.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Golden Years

"Golden Years," 9" x 9" inches acrylic and watercolor on watercolor paper. You can add this portrait to your collection for $99.  Just send me an email if you're interested.

The face in this portrait is Faith, a rescued Mastiff who endured a challenging past but is now, fortunately, spending her golden years in comfort.

Kept as a breeding dog in a puppy mill for years, Faith has given birth to untold litters of puppies.  Her life must have been extremely challenging, since her living conditions were anything but cozy.  She was kept chained to the side of a building, and still has places on her haunches where her fur is rubbed off and replaced with callouses because she had nowhere soft to lie down.

Fortunately for Faith, along came Kristin, who recognized her "canine soul mate" in Faith, and adopted her once the puppy mill where Faith had spent her life was shut down.  Faith has been sharing her forever home with Kristin for more than a year now, enjoying slow, sedate walks, lots of cuddling and a soft bed.  Some people might reasonably expect that Faith would be distrustful of people after all she's been through, but she has such a sweet disposition that she is even helping Kristin rehabilitate a new, younger rescue dog that Kristen recently adopted.

Here's the picture of Faith I worked from, so you can see her "battle scars" clearly.

Happy retirement, Faith!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Off to the Woods

My family and I are hauling off to the woods for a couple of weeks of rest and relaxation (including plenty of drawing and painting for Mom). I hope to have lots of new artwork to post on my return.
Happy August!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom

Here is a recently completed portrait I did of an adorable Yorkshire Terrier named Jill.  A young college-age woman commissioned the picture, together with her dad, as a surprise birthday present for her mother.

Rainbowdog portraits make great gifts.  Is there someone special in your life who would love of keepsake portrait of their special pet?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wild Beasts?

The Fauves, or Wild Beasts, loved to used color to express emotion, and weren't concerned with making colors realistic. For a while, one of my artistic idols, Henri Matisse, was experimenting with this form of painting.  This portrait of his wife, "Woman with the Hat," painted around 1905, is a good example.  I think we all understand that Madame Matisse's face wasn't actually green.

So, given that bit of art history, is it wrong that Rainbowdog uses, shall we say, unrealistic colors when painting my portraits?  I hope you don't think so.  (And no, I and NOT comparing myself with Matisse!)  Look at this portrait of a pug named Chloe. 

No, she isn't actually blue and purple in real life, but I love the way she looks.  Maybe your dog would look great in purple?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stupid Pet Tricks, Here We Come!

Taking a break from painting today, getting a little R & R with my dogs Sylvie and Stella.  It's a close tetherball match, but I think Sylvie (the brown one) finished ahead.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bulldog Calendar

Are you a student, past or present, of Georgetown University? Mississippi State University? Tredyffrin Easttown Middle School? These schools and a host of others boast a bulldog as the school mascot. Tapping into the bulldog love in the USA, the people at Art 4 Causes are drumming up support for an all-bulldog calendar, with the proceeds going to bulldog rescue. Here's Rainbowdog's proposed calendar girl, Gracie. She would make a nice Ms. March, I think.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On-Line Art Gallery Now Open

Remember when I told you about the upcoming Canine Art Guild show featuring cats? Well, the show is now up and running, with more than 80 artworks depicting cats of all varieties, from house-cats to lions. Here is a picture of the inspiration for my entry, Tinkers the cat, as well as another view of the portrait I made of him. 

There are many beautiful artworks in the show.  Visit today and vote for your favorite. Some of the entries I particularly enjoy include:

Shelter Sweety #2 by Molly Poole

Moonstruck by Fran Dellaporta

and The World Upside Down by Terry Chacon

There are MANY beautiful versions of cats in this show, so I urge you to check them out at the CAG today!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Happy July 4! At my house, we're celebrating with dog-themed cupcakes.

These mouthwatering 'pup-cakes' were created by my teenaged daughter, our house's resident baker.  She used the book "Hello, Cupcake!" by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson for inspiration, but jumped off to create her own doggy designs. Word to the wise, although the subtitle of the book says the designs are simple ones that "anyone" can make, that "anyone" must be patient, careful and have good hand-eye coordination to execute breed-specific cupcakes. (Recognize the chocolate lab, schnauzer and pug in the picture?)

I think I'll keep my job as taster, rather than trying to get promoted to sous-chef.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Fun

The colors in this portrait of Pavel, a fun-loving, ball-playing Vizsla, are so summery and light that I thought I'd share it on the blog today.

As famed dog artist Steven Huneck illustrated, and as Pavel knows, life is a ball. After all, aren't dog days -- whether dog days of summer or any other season --  all good days?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dogs & Wine: Connected at the Label

After entering the recent contest to have my dog art chosen as the label for Mutt Lynch Winery, I started wondering whether other wineries around the country, and around the world, have the same fixation with dogs that the folks at Mutt Lynch do. Has that love of all things canine also compelled other wineries to put pictures of dogs - photos or other art - on the labels of their wines?  Is the art any good?

A very brief and not-at-all comprehensive search of the internet turned up some interesting artwork on the bottles.  Readers should note that I usually use the label as my primary criterion for purchasing a bottle of vino,  and am not endorsing the taste of any of the following wines. They sure are nice to look at, though.

The sampling of faces below are part of the Vicktory Dog Wine Collection.  Featured on the labels are individual portraits of all 22 dogs rescued from Michael Vick's dog-fighting operation.  

Do you know of any other good dog wine labels out there? Please let me know.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Watercolor & Ink Practice

Here's another watercolor and pen practice portrait. I plan on making a series of these this summer, with the idea I may add this type of portrait to the Rainbowdog line.  
Below my drawing is the original photo of Ellie I worked from. Isn't she a beautiful girl?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here, Kitty Kitty

This painting is my entry in the Canine Art Guild online art show "Here, Kitty Kitty." I knew there was a reason I was practicing cats.

Tinkers, my poster child, is another denizen of Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals. This portrait of Tinkers, a 16 x 16 inch acrylic, will be for sale through the CAG show, with 100 percent of the profits going to Francisvale.

"Here, Kitty Kitty" will go live at the CAG website on July 1.  It should be interesting to see what this group of dog loving artists comes up with when playing with the theme of cats.  Also of note, prizes - CASH prizes - will be awarded to the top three finishers, as determined by popular vote.  I'll give the alert when it's time to cast your vote for Rainbowdog.

Thanks, as always, for your support!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is that . . . a CAT?

Gasp! It's a cat! Summer is here, the kids are finishing school and trying new pursuits, and I thought it might be fun to try something new as well. Hence, the change from my usual canine subject matter, as well as the new medium. watercolor and pen.  

This portrait is of a beautiful cat named Betty, currently residing at the Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals in Radnor, PA. According to the folks at Francisvale, Betty is seven years old, and although she's been passed from home to home over the years, is still a gentle soul who loves to be picked up and snuggled.   

Francisvale is having a Cat Open House this Saturday, June 12, from noon to 3 p.m.  Adoption fees will be waived on this special day in favor of a donation!  If you have been thinking of adding a cat to the family, please consider adopting Betty or one of the other lovely cats at Francisvale.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Canine Art Guild

Imagine my surprise, having worked as a dog portrait painter for several years now, to discover that there is an actual Canine Art Guild. Where have I been all this time?  The Guild has been around for five years, establishing a community for dog artists of all levels, exhibiting their work and providing a place to find support and advice. It's a great place to see and buy dog art on the web as well!

Their most recent show, entitled 'Dog Gonn-it Art Exhibit "The CAG is five years old!"' featured artists from around the country and the world.  Some of my personal favorites included:
"Snuggly" by Judy Johnson

"Macy" by Harry Boardman

"He's Looking at You, Kid" by Susan Garrigues

"Curious" by Mary Singer

"Trio (Halle)" by Judi Evans

I'm inspired by so much dog art in one place. It makes we want to get to my studio and create. Look for a Rainbowdog painting in their next show!

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm a Good Sport, But It's Painful

It was a short ride at the top, and frankly, we're feeling a bit droopy.

(Notice the similarity between this photo and my signature Rainbowdog painting?  It's my dear, departed dog Roxy, who was a professional at giving disdainful glances when feeling out of sorts.)

However, good sportsmanship compels me to report that Kimberly Kelly Santini, creator of the quilt-like picture "Rusty" has won the Mutt Lynch Winery - Dog Art Today Wine Label Contest for 2010. Kelly is an established artist with an interesting project of painting "a dog a day" with the proceeds benefitting animal welfare.
Congratulations Kelly, and THANKS again to all who voted for Rainbowdog.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rainbowdog Makes the Top Ten!

My entry in the Mutt Lynch Winery - Dog Art Today 2010 wine label contest has made the top ten! Click here to see all ten of the entries that received the most votes. The judges will take it from here, and according to Dog Art Today, the winner will be announced some time today.  I'll keep you posted.
We're all so excited here that we could really use a biscuit.  MANY thanks to any and all who voted!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Top Five . . . Picture Books Featuring Dogs

This elite group of picture books was chosen on the strength of the story and the illustrations together. There are plenty of books with great illustrations and a so-so story, or a fantastic story with illustrations that are on the boring side, but I was looking for the total package.

In reverse order, my top 5 picks:

5. Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School, written and illustrated by Mark Teague.

Ike LaRue has been shipped off to a deluxe boarding school for dogs to learn better manners (such as not eating the chicken pot pie off the table).  The story is told in snarky letters from Ike to his owner, Mrs. LaRue, in which he paints a dire picture of his life that doesn't quite match up with what we see in the illustrations.

As you can see in the example below, Ike is actually dining in a hilariously upscale restaurant with waiter service and "floor-dropped table scraps" on the menu, while his imaginary experience includes a domineering prison guard pointing out that howling, biting, scratching, growling, slobbering, barking and especially second helpings are NOT ALLOWED.

4. Officer Buckle and Gloria, written and illustrated by Peggy Rathman.

Officer Buckle gives school children the most boring safety presentations in the world, until the day he brings the new police dog Gloria with him. Turns out that Gloria is an accomplished actress and enlivens the programs quite a bit.  Just not when Officer Buckle can see her.

Gloria isn't the cutest fictional dog in the world, but the illustrations are bold and bright and the safety tips on the endpapers are a must read (e.g., "don't play in the microwave").

3.  Martha Blah Blah, written and illustrated by Susan Meddaugh.

Martha the dog is a great communicator (aren't all dogs?), but when she eats the right kind of alphabet soup - Granny's  -  the letters go up to her brain and she can speak words.   This turns out to be incredibly useful for ordering meat from the butcher or making special requests for dinner. Unfortunately, a new Granny takes over the soup company and cuts out half the alphabet letters to increase profits.  Martha suddenly loses her way with words, and goes on a mission to restore "every letter in every can."

Martha's personality leaps of the page, and is enhanced by clever illustrations that reward repeat views (Alf the "A" maker has arrows, anchors and alligators on his curtains.) Also in this series: Martha Speaks, Martha Calling, and Martha and Skits.

2. Go, Dog. Go! written and illustrated by P.D. Eastman.
This classic  needs no introduction.  Some might quibble with this selection because Go, Dog. Go! doesn't have a "story" per se.  But who hasn't been gripped by the question of whether the big dog will ever like that poodle's hat? And where are all those dogs driving to? Why are they all going to that big tree over there? 

A dog party for the climax of a book? It doesn't get any better than that.

1. Moe the Dog in Tropical Paradise, written by Diane Staley, illustrated by Elise Primavera.

A week's vacation in snowy January and no money for a trip to the beach could be a bummer, but not for Moe the Dog and his friend Arlene.  When a tropical escape proves financially impossible, Moe uses his canine ingenuity to bring the beach to his house.

Primavera's illustrations are full of hidden "extras" - Moe and Arlene work at Frozen Cow Ice Cream, Moe's attic is full of dusty dog paraphernalia like a Lassie lunch box and copies of Benjie and Old Yeller.  Hands down my favorite dog picture book.

Did I omit your favorite? Leave a comment!