It all started in 2008, when friend, Ree Drummond, lost her beloved Border Collie, Nell. Nell was a regular subject on Ree's blog "The Pioneer Woman" and when she disappeared with no trace, I felt inclined to do a painting for Ree and her family, hoping that it would help with the healing.
It did, and my painting is enjoyed in her home daily - more specifically in her daughters' bedroom.
There was something about the process of painting Nell that captured my heart, but I did not begin to pursue doing pet portraits as a choice of favorite subjects until recently.
About a year ago, I did a pastel of my precious "Adolf" sitting in his favorite chair, looking out the window, and making sure everything was well. He loves guarding our home and protecting his human family. We've had Adolf for 8 years, and he is, by far, the best pet we've ever had. It feels strange calling him a "pet," because he is so much more than that to all of us. He is a member of the family. I swear he's human!
Progress Animation of "Guarding the Homefront" from Susan Vaughn on Vimeo.
As I worked on the pastel of Adolf, I realized just how much my heart was into painting that portrait of him, and the painting came out beautiful.
Then, my daughter, Kim, and her family, lost their precious "Oreo." Oreo was a black and white kitty that had been in their family for about 7 years. He was a very special kitty, and when he became ill and passed away, it was devastating. My heart broke for the loss of a dearly loved pet, and I proceeded to create a painting in pastel of Oreo, for my daughter and her family.
Again, I found that my heart was in the process moreso than with other paintings I have done in the past. There was something about painting a pet portrait that tugged at my heartstrings.
A number of friends commented on my pet portraits, and asked if I would be interested in making a donation of a personal pet portrait for the Silent Auction at the Ties & Tails Gala in Charlotte, North Carolina. I agreed to participate and to create a pastel painting for the winner of the auction. The Ties & Tails Gala, by the way, supports the Humane Society of Charlotte. I was more than happy to be a part of this wonderful charity.
I placed the framed painting of Adolf as a reference on the Silent Auction Table with the many other gifts and paintings offered by supporters of the Humane Society of Charlotte, and I received many wonderful comments about my painting and offering at the Gala.
A young couple won the Silent Auction, and as a result, I donated a pet portrait for them - "Petunia" 10x8 Pastel on Paper.
But it didn't end there. I received a commission from another guest at the Gala. He asked me to create a painting of his and his girlfriend's dog, "Riley." Riley is a rescue and has been a joy in their life.
And so, I created a pastel portrait of Riley, and they couldn't be happier.
Next up was two paintings for our friends here in Charlotte who invited us to attend the Gala with them. It was the least I could do. Their Papillons are their children. They have two, and they are beautiful.
This here is "Maxx E. Pooperdog" 10x8 Pastel on Art Spectrum Colourfix Paper
And this is "Nicky" 10x8 Pastel on Art Spectrum Colourfix Paper
Again, I found that I enjoyed the creation of the pastel paintings of these beautiful pets more and more. I think it is a calling.
Pet portrait after pet portrait, I find that my heartstrings get a little tug with every painting. There is something very dear to me about pups and kitties. To me, they are always pups and kitties.
So, if you would like a pastel pet portrait of your beloved and precious pet, let me know. You can contact me by going to the contact page here on my blog and sending me a message. I'd be happy to talk to you about creating a beautiful portrait that will be cherished for a lifetime.