Animal Portraiture.

I have been creating custom portraits of peoples' animal companions since 1993, and now my total portraits number over 100 in six different media.

I always work from photographs to create a portrait of an animal, usually compiling two or more (or a whole photo album of) photographs to accurately study and render the physical characteristics of the image which the commissioner desires.

But a portrait, human or animal, is not just a picture of the subject's physical characteristics, and this is where I really customize the portrait. An accurate portrait captures as much of the subject's emotional and spiritual traits as is possible, and this is true for animals as well as people. In animal portraiture, I endeavor to get to know the animal either by a face-to-face meeting or by interviewing the animal's human companion(s), then instilling as much of what I have gathered into the work as I can. Often it looks nothing like any photos given to me, and I take a number of intuitive leaps while I'm working, but I go where the portrait leads me, and in the end my subject looks back at me and I know I've gotten there.

This page contains as many of my commissioned cat portraits as I have good photos for--for instance, I have many more portraits in pencil, but they are difficult to photograph. This is also where I'll post the progress photos of whatever current feline portrait I'm working on. My commissioned dog portraits can be seen on another page, and what do you do when you have both cats and dogs? Look here! And I paint people, too.

Read here about Paws for Reflection, a work commissioned by the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania.

For portrait pricing and terms and a demonstration of how a portrait is created, please see my Portrait Demonstration page.

For information on the Animal Artwork Display program, visit "Animal Artwork Display".

Click on any image to see an enlarged version.


Samantha MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 23" x 16"; Commissioned, 1994 To capture the nuances of black fur in dim light is indeed a challenge, even moreso than the intricacies of a wicker chair. I was provided with only one photograph for this portrait, but thankfully quite a good one, although Samantha's owner had changed her color scheme from blue and peach to green and mauve, necessitating a change in the pillows, and we deleted the light switch and door from the background and just created swirls of color.

Amaretto, Simon and Merlin

MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 17" x 23"; Commissioned, 1994 These are my veterinarian's three cats, and she supplied me with photos, plus I met these characters and took another roll of film to capture their individual traits. Even though they came to her individually, they are a close-knit group, so we decided to start with one picture of them sleeping in a heap but arrange them so that they displayed their most notable characteristics, such as Amaretto's tail and Merlin's extra toes. The blue blanket is a complement to their orange fur, plus added interest in the background.


MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 17" x 12"; Commissioned, 1996 Gypsy was just about to turn 21 when I met her, and the challenge was for her human to choose one position out of all those years of companionship by which to represent her. She had no pictures of this position, and of course Gypsy did not cooperate by posing, so we pieced it together with other pictures of Gypsy plus a picture of a pillow placed in this spot behind the curtains. After she lost Gypsy to a brain tumor, her companion told me that she had hung the portrait by the door and every morning she said goodbye to the portrait and greeted it every day when she came home. I was glad to know that something I had done had brought comfort to someone in time of need.


MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 18" x 24"; Commissioned, 1995 This portrait was a gift from the person who commissioned me to a friend of his, and was a real challenge for the amount of creative license the client gave me. He had an idea of this cat on a chair, plus some background items to make it like an interior scene, and told me that he liked antiques and "gem" colors--deep rich earth tones. He gave me pictures of Luigi, and I found the other resources in places as various as catalogs, home decorating books and friends' homes plus some imagination, and put it together from that. Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph this before I framed it, so this photograph is pretty bad and doesn't even show the whole portrait (there's a hardwood floor and the edge of an Oriental rug at the bottom, for example).



MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 22" x 16"; Commissioned, 1995 Scout was the lead cat in this household, as you can tell by her imposing expression. I used only three photographs to create this portrait since I did get to meet Scout (under the dining room table) to gather information. All of the details of her usual attitude are correct except for her tail, and we cheated there since she had such a lovely tail but always sat on it. I had to make an extra visit when the portrait was almost done just to see Scout's tail and then hurry home to get it down on paper. I have done four commissioned works for these folks.


MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 11" x 7"; Commissioned, 1997 Sooty was a rescue story, and luckily landed in a home which will revere him all of his days. He is a full-bred, papered, quiet and sweet-tempered Silver Persian, and had been bought as a gift for a future spouse. The couple subsequently broke up and Sooty was shuffled to a household which kept him in the garage, hoping he would get out and be hit by a car. Three years after his rescue, and after much coaxing, he finally goes up to the second floor of the house and even sits on a lap now and then, and is probably the only animal subject who would have sat still long enough for me to at least do a few sketches.


Buckwheat, Muggsy, Emily and Sadie

MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 20" x 16"; Commissioned, 1999 Buckwheat, the black cat, was the inspiration for this portrait—he was ill at the time and the uncertainty of his illness prompted his humans to commission the portrait; he left us before the portrait was finished. He was big brother to all, and Muggsy and Emily, brother and sister, are still very close. All three were adopted from the Humane Society, but Sadie.was rescued from a farm that had too many cats, and unlike the other three tended to be a little distant. Grouping them in a likely manner was difficult, but when Sadie perched atop the chair where I photographed her for reference, I knew this composition was the one.


Little Gooney

MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 9" x 8"; Commissioned, 1999 Little Gooney—yes she does have an attitude, perhaps because of her name. She was commissioned as a Christmas gift for just something small, and even though this pose is not the most flattering, it was the only full-face photo available. It's one of my favorites, though, small, simple and honest.


Marley and Boo

MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 13" x 19"; Commissioned, 1999 These two very large black cats were really a challenge simply because black fur is a challenge, and even though they may look alike, black fur color is really all they have in common. Both adoptees from shelters, Marley had been returned for being a little too physical in an adoptive home and may have been considered dangerous. Still, he seemed to be perfectly happy as I crawled around on the floor after him trying to get a good close-up of his face and fur. The background was just an imaginary space to create interest.


Three Black and White Cats

MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 22" x 16"; Commissioned, 1993 These three were littermates, and were rarely seen far from each other. The positioning is a little odd, but this was a gift, and this was the only photo available, and it ended up making a very interesting portrait.



Allie and Abbie

MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 11" x 14"; Commissioned, 1999 This is the little girl who just loves her cat. The family already had a dog, but it was too large for the little girl. Her mother took her to the shelter and Allie chose, not a kitten, but full-grown Abbie, who turned out to be a wonderful, patient companion for an active little girl. Her mother reports that Allie thanks her all the time for getting her a cat.

Single Subject with Color Background

Even individual images often require a number of photos to work from, especially if the subject is no longer living or if the available photos are indistinct. Posing the subject is up to the owner, and sometimes represents all the physical traits or just one characteristic moment. Because there usually has to be something behind the subject but there is no scenic background, I usually choose a color for the background that either complements the subject, such as Nick, or which matches the room in which the portrait will be hung, such as Sooty.

Single Subject with Scenic Background

Often the owner wants to remember a single moment that involves a place in the house or an object--the favorite sleeping spot, for instance, or just one beautiful moment. This can be done with an actual photo of the scene, like Samantha, or one that is built from elements, like Gypsy. In some cases with scenic backgrounds I build them from my own materials as in the case of Luigi, whose owners collected antiques and wanted to incorporate rich jewel tones in the portrait to complement his silver gray fur.

Two Subjects with Color Background

The challenge with putting several subjects together is that they always have to be created from multiple photos, even if a similar pose is available, and the keeping the two cats in proportion to each other and get the lighting right is tricky.


Many of us have three or more cats, and we might as well put the whole group in, right? More often than that, my customers have decided to include every cat--and dog, sometimes--who has ever lived with them.

Cats and People

I only have one here, though I've done several but have no good images or my customer requested privacy.

Working With My Customers

In the end, any portrait means I work closely with my customer, often at an emotionally difficult time. I've developed lasting friendships with many of them, even long distance, and several have returned for another portrait. It's the part of this process I enjoy almost as much as creating a piece of artwork.

Visit my Portraits Demonstration Page

For portrait pricing and terms and a demonstration of how a portrait is created, please see my Portrait Demonstration page.

Download a Brochure

My brochure is a two-page PDF that half-folds when it's all printed out.

Gift Certificates

A portrait is a really unique gift, but sometimes you can't get the photos or you'd rather let the recipient design the portrait they want. I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait. The certificate itself has a collage of portrait images with the recipient's and giver's names, printed on parchment cover stock; the whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards. The whole package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift. Please contact me if you are interested in a gift certificate.

Other Commissioned Work

Of course, in addition to cats, I create portraits of dogs, and some people have both cats and dogs. I will also paint people or houses or just about anything else you have in mind, such as Veronica's Tulips.

For feline photos, visit my photography area Many images are also available as cards, almost all are available as prints; see my marketplace page. In addition to cat art, I'm also concerned about cat issues, and animal welfare in general. Please visit The Creative Cat for what's up with my feline family and links to issues, products and information of interest to cats, dogs and their people, as well as wildlife.