Monday, February 8, 2016

A painting of Vinnie - English Springer Spaniel

This is Vinnie.   His owner lost him when he was 6 years old.   It is always so emotional for me to paint a dog that passed at a young age.  Having lost a young dog, I so understand the dreams and memories that will never come to be because time has cruelly been taken from you.
I asked her to share Vinnie's story and this is what she told me.  

It's so difficult to loose a dog. They are our pets but they are more than that - they indeed are a piece of our hearts! Vinnie was one very special guy - he was my shadow, my constant companion; he truly felt he was there for me and to make me smile (and at times laugh hysterically!) and I lost him way too soon! As I have been trying to understand why my grief has been so deep, I realized he was the most emotionally aware dog I had ever met or even heard of!! He wanted to please me and make me happy at all times - I could never cry - he would climb up me and be such a joker kissing me and such that every single time, he would turn my tears around!

We did SO much together - not just dog shows and earning titles in so many venues, but Vinnie was a very talented therapy dog! An example of his deep awareness was reviled to me one day during one of our therapy dog visits. We visited with children and he loved his kids!! A mother approached us with her 2 daughters - the older one instantly got down on her knees to pet and play with Vinnie - the younger was afraid, and hid behind her mom. We could coax her out and Vinnie as usual, would present his head to say "Hi". She would shriek and jump behind mom. After a couple of times, with us assuring her he wouldn't hurt her - Vinnie fell board flat on the floor on his side!! Both mom & the girls were all asking what happened? What's wrong with him? And I truthfully did not know! He then lifted his eye to mine and as our eyes met, I knew! When I recovered, my response to them was that nothing at all was wrong with Vinnie - he laid down flat on his side so she would know he had no intention of harming her and that he wanted her to come and pet him. And she did - and mom shared with me she had such a fear of dogs he was the first dog she had ever petted! 

I miss him dearly - but am thrilled to be able to have his most incredible portrait to keep forever.

Thank you for having me paint Vinnie for you Veronica.   He was so special.  

Reference Photos
Click here to see commission information

Friday, January 29, 2016

Finn - Painting of an Irish Setter

Here is a painting I've been working on since mid December.   I try to work on several  paintings simultaneously, going from painting to painting, to keep my eyes fresh.  It is a great way to proof what I am doing with each painting.   While working on this painting, I had three paintings in process; a Boxer, this Irish and a Springer Spaniel (that is very close to being completed).

A lovely lady named Christin had left a message on my phone about her dog, Finn, and wanted me to paint him.  It is so heartwarming to be contacted by someone who wants me to paint their dog.   I don't think it will ever be less exciting than it was for my first commission.
The initial discussion for this painting was great, the potential collector was excited, and I awaited the opportunity to meet her dog in Georgia.   We exchanged cell phone numbers and made plans to meet months later.   Zipping ahead to Georgia - I met Finn - he was GORGEOUS.   His photos were taken and we were all set for me to go through the photos when I returned to California.

Since Finn is also a hunting dog, Christin wanted to send me some hunting photos to be considered while going through all his reference photos.   She sent me the photos, and I have to say, they were really fabulous photos.   We went through the process of considering what touched her heart about the photos while I looked at each photo as an artist and compositionally.   In the end, we both loved this hunting photo and knew we'd found the perfect photo for his painting.

Upon asking, here is what Christin shared with me about Finn:

Finn is a sweet fun loving Irish setter.  While his human mommy took him home to be a loved member of the family with no intent of showing him, this gorgeous boy found his way into the show ring.  Showing only occasionally, he was still able to obtain his grand championship and finish out last year in the top 25.  But this sweet boy is not all show, his real love is being out in the field.   He's an avid hunter, even fancying himself a hound when his favorite quarry, birds, are not available seeking out rabbits, squirrels and even deer to chase.  Above all he loves spending time with his human pack joining in whatever activity they are involved in.

Thank you to Finn's family for having me paint him.  He is a really an awesome dog and painting him was my pleasure.
Finn in the Field
Primary Reference Photo

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A painting of Windsor is just finished

I met Windsor's parents last year when Norah approached me to paint their "boxer".  Of course I was thrilled - boxers have such expressive faces.  What I wasn't prepared for was to meet such a spectacular dog.   Not only was he gorgeous, he had a wonderful temperament.   
We took a number of photos of him at that time, but Jonathan had a fabulous photo that he'd already taken of Windsor.  When he sent me the photo - there was no question - no doubt - that was the reference photo to use.

If you look at the reference photo at the bottom of this post you'll see I've made a number of changes.  I dropped the fence line so it would not give a break in the middle of his neck nor in the middle of the composition.  I've also softened the area behind Windsor's head to keep the focus on Windsor and not the background.   

One big change in the painting was the amount of light and reflection I've added to his eyes that did not exist in the reference photo.   It is always great to have an exceptional photo as reference, but that is only reference - a road map to painting that dog.  

As an artist, I have to know what to emphasize, what to eliminate, what to soften and what to strengthen.   Also, compositionally, I want the painting to keep the viewer in the painting and wanting to keep looking and enjoying.  Isn't that what we enjoy about going to a gallery - looking at the art and getting caught up in a painting?  I hope you enjoy viewing the painting as much as I did painting it.

I've asked the Bonwit's to share some information on Windsor:

Silver Grand Champion Hallmark’s Mystical Marvel

2014 Top 20 Boxer
Sire:  Platinum GCH R and G’s Mystical Dancer, SOM
Dam:  CH Renno’s TKO’s Izzy My Daddy, DOM
Grandsires:  “Loki” and “Bosco”

     Windsor is the fifth generation Top 20 Boxer in his pedigree that is charged with a long line of renowned Producers of Merit and Top 20 Boxers.  This magnificent boxer finished his Championship at 10 months of age and then went on to win 42 Best of Breed competitions plus multiple group placements during only ten months competing as a Special.
     His sire, Platinum GCH R and G’s Mystical Dancer, aka "Danny” won the Top 20 in 2011.    And his grandsire, GCH Duba-Dae’s Who’s Your Daddy, aka “Bosco” won the Top 20 in 2009.
Other Top 20 Qualifiers in Windsor’s pedigree include CH Capri’s Woods End Spellcaster, aka “Loki”;  CH Woods End Crown Sable, aka “Tucker”;  CH Rosend’s Key Largo, aka “Bogie”;  CH Jems Jack of Diamonds, aka “Jackson”;  and CH Bayview Strides Ahead, aka, “Strider”.
     Windsor is a very loving, playful, and inquisitive spirit who is now happily retired to Stud and living with his adoring family in Huntington Beach, California.
Jonathan and Norah Bonwit
Brightwater Boxers
Huntington Beach, California

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ch Jewelsets Split Second "ELLIE" (BIS Ch Saxony Snow in August ex BISS Ch Jewelsets Special Attraction)

Ch Jewelsets Split Second "ELLIE" (BIS Ch Saxony Snow in August ex BISS Ch Jewelsets Special Attraction)

This beautiful girl left us earlier this year.   She lived a full life but, even then, losing her was far too soon.   They are never with us long enough - even when they lived as long as beautiful Ellie lived.

Ellie's painting was a Christmas gift from one friend to another.   The painting was a surprise and today the friends had their Christmas get together and the surprise present was opened.  The painting is a mini painting and measures 6 x 6. 

Thank you to Pat for having me paint Ellie for you to give as a gift.   It is such an honor to be able to be part of such a special present.

Hugs and understanding to all those who shared in Ellie's life.   She will be in your memories forever.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Commissioned painting of Brandie.

This painting is sitting her in my office and ready to be shipped out tomorrow.

This is "Brandie" CH Jamonds Brandie Wine Back with a Shamrock. I understand she is points away from her Grand Championship as well. I met Brandie back in 2013 - she was WB at the 2013 ISCA National Specialty - shown by her breeder and dear friend, Jackie Drummond.

She is a gorgeous girl and very loved by her owners, Bob and Rita Schmidt. I was so excited to be able to paint her for them. On a fun note, Brandie is a sister to my girl Faith (Brandie is from a repeat breeding so Faith is older). They both have the darkest eyes and gentle expression.

I met up with Brandie again in 2014 and took some photos of her. More photos were taken in 2015 and this painting is a result. The time allowed Brandie to mature and what a beautiful head and expression she has.

The painting is being shipped to Bob and Rita tomorrow. I can't wait for them to see it in person. The paintings are so much better in real life. There is a dimension and vibrancy that is lost when looking at the image on a computer screen.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Joe Cool - Pastel Painting of a Norfolk Terrier
Joe Cool aka CH Abershams Man in the Moon

This is a mini painting recently finished. The dog's name is Joe Cool. His registered name is CH Abershams Man in the Moon. It has been a pleasure to paint such a beautiful boy. I can see why he is loved so much - I'd just like to snuggle him and give him kisses. Thank you Celeste for having me paint your boy!
Reference photo of Joe Cool

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Painting Commission - Lennox

This is a painting of Lennox (Le Sphinx Killing Me Softly). The mini painting was a gift from one friend to another. I can't tell you how awesome it is when people commission me to paint a "gift" painting for someone.

Borzoi - Pastel Painting

I'd asked if the owner of Lennox could share some special thoughts on this lovely dog. She lives in Switzerland. Here is what she's shared: "I am still amazed at how accurately the artist Dawn Secord has made his wonderful charisma ........ She saw his wonderful expression and this says everything on him. He is the most special Borzoi of my life. A dog with a wonderful charisma.............again thank you so much!!!! He is now a senior 8 years can't believe how time flies......."

Thank you to all involved for having me paint your beautiful boy, Lennox. It was an honor.

Monday, November 2, 2015

New Commissioned Painting just finished.

This is Boo "Bruschi" - also known as BIS BISS GGCH Greengate the Boss at Beaubriar CGC, RN.

I met Boo back in 2006 in Michigan.   He was a very young dog at that time and absolutely adorable.   The one thing that was undeniable was his incredible personality.   He was a gorgeous baby, but I had no idea he would grow into such a beautiful adult.   I've asked his family to share a little bit of what he has done in the show ring.

He has won 2 BIS (Best in Show) and 28 BISS (Best in Specialty Shows)
Was #1 male IS for at least 1 year. Retired now, was ranked as #3 Breed and #3 All Breed when he was retired.
Owned and Loved by: Rick & Nancy Fiacco
Co Owners: Shelly DeChambeau, Bernie Elliot

Boo is one of those once in a life time dogs. 

Reference photo for the painting:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Portrait of Major for Emily

There is a very special story behind this painting.   At the 2014 National I was approached by this cute 15 year old junior handler, Emily, who was just learning to show dogs.  She didn't have her own Irish yet, but was showing dogs for others to learn the ropes.   She was so smitten with my artwork that she secretly commissioned me to paint her mother's dog as a gift.   Shortly after speaking with Emily, her mother approached me.   She wanted to commission me to paint Emily's first Irish setter once she had it.   Oh gee - what to do.   Funny thing is, this has happened to me before.  So, I knew what to do - I said  yes to both of them and would figure it out later.

Eventually, I told Emily's mother what was going on and we all laughed about it.   Her mother wanted me to keep the secret from Emily and let Emily think she was commissioning me when in actuality, the painting would be for Emily.

Now it is 2015 and Emily has her first Irish Setter, his name is Major.   Emily is so in love with this pup.  I was able to meet him in Georgia and can easily see why she loves him so much.  This pup has such an amazing personality, he even let a 3 year old stack him  (Major is pictured below with his breeder's granddaughter).

I asked Emily to share her thoughts about Major and this is what she told me;

Major is a fun loving, happy dog who has never met a stranger. He is My Heart Dog. I have never loved a dog like I love him.  He, at a young age, went to a nursing home and did amazingly well for a puppy.  I plan on getting his CGC next year and hopefully he will be a Champion next year too. He is one of those dogs you meet and he leaves an impression on you.

Thank you to Emily and her mom, Tammie, for letting me be part of your family and create this painting for ya'll.   I look forward to watching Emily and Major in years to come.

And of all the coincidences, her pup Major is out of Harmony, who is a litter mate to Drew (our male and Bling's father).   So Bling and Major are cousins.   Just a crazy coincidence.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Three Generations of Irish Setters - Pastel Painting

When I was approached to paint three generations of Irish Setters, I was thrilled.

I was able to meet all the dogs in person and take photos of them.  The center image was to be painted larger than the others is she the foundation dam.   Her owner wanted her image to be larger and stand out from her puppies and grand puppies.

The two upper images are her get - female on the right, male on the left.   From the female, a litter was whelped which produced the two lower images - two young males. 

Knowing the dam and the sire of the two young males, it is amazing how much resemblence I can see to various dogs in their pedigree.   The pup on the left most certainly reminds me of his uncle - upper right.  The pup on the right most certainly reminds me of his sire.  The pups are three now and I've seen pictures of the pup on the right.  As an adult he is a beautiful blend of his sire and dam.

It is so interesting to watch dogs grow and, like people, see how they develop and who they resemble.

Thank you so much to their owner for having me paint their portraits.   It was truly an honor to paint your family.

If you are interested in commissioning me to paint your dog, my email is or go to my website for more information

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Our chicks are 12 weeks old!

Here is a video of our chicks.  Crazy to think they even hatched.   Not sure what to do with the two little roosters.   For now, we are keeping them.  My poor husband....don't think he signed up for a hobby farm!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dottie the Italian Greyhound

This is Dottie.  I met her owners last year and we discussed the possibility of me painting Dottie's portrait.   As the conversation progressed, the idea of having two photos of Dottie in her portrait, a head study and a racing shot, became the goal.

Dottie's parents had some amazing reference material for photos.  But, I'd never seen an IG race so I met up with them and was able to watch their dogs run in person.   I took more reference photos and had a blast.   Those little guys ran like rockets!!!  I'd taken one of my Irish Setters with me, Bling, and someone asked me if she was racing.  We all had a good laugh over that one.

For the painting, they chose to have me paint a head shot of Dottie when she was younger.   She had a beautiful collar on but it obscured my view of her markings.  So, they took a photo of her in without the collar.   Great help!!  On Dottie's neck, the colors were subdued to ensure the viewer would be drawn to Dottie's face and to also make it more of a subtle area on which the racing part of the painting would be layered.

For racing part of the painting, the lights and darks were vibrantly emphasized so it would appear Dottie was running right off the painting at you. It was important that the racing image on the painting not blend into the portrait part of the painting.

Hope you enjoy the painting of Dottie as much as I did painting it!!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mini Pastel Painting - the Perfect Gift!

This is a mini pastel painting 4 x 4.

It is the perfect size for a gift. 

More information is on the website link above.  On the above link, the painting that is being signed is a 6 x 6.   Another great gift size.  The 4 x 4 is $125.00 and 6 x 6 is $250.00.    Shipping, tax (if applicable) and framing not included.

I do a lot of gift certificates for paintings these sizes.   Email me or call me for more information.
(909) 393-7111

Happy July everyone!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Painting of Jazz

I've been working on this painting for a little bit.  It was one that was being worked on while doing two others.  There was so much detail needed in the background that it helped me to step away from it and work on another painting every few days.  Doing so keeps my eyes fresh.

The dog's name is Jazz.   He is the apple of his owner's eye.  In addition to being her everything, he is an obedience dog and a wonderful therapy dog.

Hope you enjoy viewing the painting as much as I did painting it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Painting of Logan

I've known Logan since he was a young dog.  I met him and his lovely owner, Penny, back in 2011 in Oklahoma.   The internet has allowed Penny and I to keep in contact and for me to watch Logan bloom into a gorgeous dog.

Logan has such a wonderful personality.  We took photos of him for his portrait and there wasn't the gentle look Penny had wanted.  However, there was a relaxed photo of him playing in a chair that showed his soft eyes.  His body is rolled in a chair and that was not desirable for the painting we wanted.   I always steer away from fusing photos = ie - using a head from one and a body from another for fear of an anatomical failure.   In Logan's case, one of my photos would work for the body, and the head from the chair photo was Penny's preference, so I said a little prayer and went to work.

It worked!   Penny was pleased and felt one wouldn't be able to tell that two photos had been fused.   She had his soft eyes in the painting and his beautiful coat. 

I asked her to share a little bit of Logan's story and this is what she had to say:

     Logan is Grand CH Beaubriar Spirit Meant To Be, CGC. Lo & I met when he was still living with Shelly at 11 months old. For Lo & I it was love at first sight, so the day before his first birthday he moved in with his new Irish Setter brother Duncan and me. He has several co-owners who all love him, me, Shelly DeChambeau, Kathy Roscoe; Nancy & Rick Fiacco. He is a Multiple BISS winner. His favorite "hobby" is sitting in my lap. 
     My favorite story about Logan is, a week after he arrived at my house I took him to meet my mom who had recently moved to Assisted Living. When we walked into her room she called him over to her and he immediately hopped up into her lap where he sat for several hours why she cuddled with him. She smiled nonstop. That was the last time I saw my mom before she passed. I have the ever lasting image of my mom smiling with my sweet boy in her arms. She loved Irish Setters as much as I do.

Thank you Penny for having me paint your beautiful boy.  I hope you enjoy your painting as much as I have while painting it.