Fiesta San Antonio is the soul of the city. Although it is technically only a weeklong event at the end of April – filled with street parades, river parades, festivals, and balls – the city’s citizens and businesses always find a way to stretch it out into a whole month. And with that amount of non-stop socializing, excessive partying, and still having to go into work on Monday, it is no wonder that this city has become well stocked in coffee shops (local and a “Starbucks on every corner”). I particularly appreciated this when I participated as a Duchess in the 2013 Fiesta – because, let me tell you, “hair and make up” can only do so much. When you have to be dressed and looking fabulous at a parade route by 8 am - after attending a glamorous ball with an open bar and closing time of 2 am - your saving grace, your life line, your power to fight away the puffy eyes … is caffeine. And LOTS of it. Coffee, Redbull, Monster, Rockstar – just about anything we could get our hands on.
Fast forward to a couple years later, … while I was working as a veterinary technician, I gave a lethargic dog (suffering from nausea and dehydration) a large amount of fluids, and an hour later, when we came back to check on him, he had made almost a full recovery. That night, on the way home, I have the memory of absently thinking to myself – about work, about the upcoming Fiesta, etc., etc. – and an idea just clicked into place. “Ya know, wouldn’t it be nice if us San Antonians could have an IV of caffeine for Fiesta week?” And from that point it was just a funny, random thought that remained in my mind.
As I built up my Fiesta inspired collection, Viva by VC Art, I started thinking – how could I make this funny idea into a painting? The idea of IV bags filled with coffee came to mind, and I thought arranging the bags in a symmetrical formation would give them an interesting “pop art” feel (rather than a scary medical feel). The final touch to brighten up the painting was making the background a vibrant, beautiful color that would complement the brown of the coffee. So, I chose one of my favorite colors to use when painting, a turquoise blue swirled with a pearlized blue.
If you are interested in buying a print of “Give It to Me IV” or ordering your own custom made painting, please email me at email@example.com!
Viva Fiesta, ya'll!!
I completed this personalized pet portrait for one of my good friends, Sarah, several years ago. The English Bulldog Pickles is the fabulous, "meaty little ham" (as we call her) in this painting. She is also the apple of her mother’s eye and the wiggly welcome party to all of Sarah’s guests.
One of Pickles most distinctive features is her tongue, which is always sticking out in hilarious fashion due to her adorable under bite. The second quality she is known for is her laziness, and, in particular, how she weirdly lays with her front legs underneath her. So when visualizing her portrait, I naturally thought of her laying down, lazily looking up at me.
The colorful, paper flower crowns of Fiesta are not only a fun accessory during Fiesta Week, but also a must have item at all festive parties thrown by San Antonians, year round. Furthermore, I loved the added bonus of how funny the feminine crown looked on the “less than feminine” Pickles! : ) Lastly, when I was painting the crown, the turquoise flower was the only one that didn’t fit on the front, so I decided to pull out more of that color by painting the ground turquoise (Side note: blue – no matter the shade – is my favorite paint color to work with, so I couldn’t let an opportunity to use it slip away.)
I hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about my process for creating the pet portrait “Viva Pickles!” To this day, it is one of my favorite paintings because of how much fun it was to bring to life, and because of how much joy it brings my friend, Sarah, who says she smiles every time she walks past it. (The photo to the left is the picture Sarah sent me after she had it framed and hung in her kitchen!)
To order your own personalized pet portrait, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
* I completed this custom pet portrait in August 2016 for the Veterinarian I worked for in New Hampshire. It took about 2 weeks from start to finish, and it is a 24 in x 36 in acrylic painting on a deep canvas with a protective polymer gloss. *
Having spent time getting to know not only him, but his “Crew” of dogs, I really enjoyed getting to bring each of their personalities to life on one canvas. While I normally use brighter colors and more feminine accents, Dr. Heck was a more traditional New Englander, spending lots of time outdoors and wore more neutral, earth tones. Therefore, when choosing a color scheme and layout, I knew a simple layout and earthy, masculine tones would be better. I ended up going with a dusty blue for the background (a color that I knew Dr. Heck would like, AND would look good with the colors of his dogs’ fur.) Then, knowing Dr. Heck’s love for tractors and the outdoors, I chose a muted kelly green shade that was still bright enough to be the focal point of the painting and look good next to the white dog’s fur.
As for the subjects of the painting- the white dog on the chair is Howard. “Howie,” as he is known around the office, was originally adopted to be more of a little white lap dog for Dr. Heck’s wife , but his spunky, mischievous personality quickly made him the leader of the pack, Dr. Heck’s (secret) favorite, and often the center of attention whenever he enters a room. So, naturally, he had to be front and center in the painting, and elevated in a regal chair to demonstrate his “Big Dog” charisma. Howie is also known for tearing up toilet paper when he is angry or bored. By knowing this funny anecdote about him, I was able to incorporate a unique touch, and even a funny story, into this pet portrait.
Bode is the dark brown, Burmese Mountain Dog mix on the left side of the canvas. Bode is a quiet, gentle old man who is often very shy around people. He usually just walks around the office at a leisurely pace, plopping down here and there to relish in long naps on cool floors; however, when he does feel like joining in on the activity, he stands there quietly, just waiting for you to call him over and shower him with attention. The stance he is taking in the painting is the way he always looks when standing around waiting; it’s the way I always think of him when I picture him in my head. He is also known for LOVING squirrels. If you want to see this old man come alive, say the word squirrel and watch as his eyes light up as he tilts his head in recognition, as if to say “WHERE?!” Therefore, incorporating a stuffed toy squirrel at his feet added a creative touch to the personality and story of his portrait.
The last dog, the tan colored collie mix on the right, is Casey, or “Case-Dog” as Dr. Heck calls him. Casey is a sweet, friendly dog who is always looking for somebody to go love on. One of the two looks I think of when picturing Casey is when he comes up to you and wants you to pet him; he is almost like a golden retriever, wiggling around, wagging his tail, and as he backs his booty up to you, he looks around, over his shoulder, to smile at you. However, I had a hard time conceptualizing how I would place him on the canvas at that angle. So I decided to go with the other look that always reminds me of Casey. He is the only one of Dr. Heck’s dogs that always seems to just want to be right by your side, … or, more importantly, under your feet. There is a desk in the back that has a dark little nook under it, and when anyone is back there typing up notes, Dr. Heck especially, Casey will go lay down under the desk and curl himself around their feet so that his head is resting on the base of the rolling chair, looking out, watching as everyone carries on with their tasks. To me, this position not only fit perfectly with the rest of the painting, but it was also a nod to Casey’s sweet and ever-present nature.
The pictures I used for the portrait are lesser quality than I would normally use, but since I saw the dogs all the time, I was very familiar with them. At the end of the day, I think this is what makes all the world of difference in creating a pet portrait – really knowing or at least familiarizing yourself with the pet and the owner. If it’s a portrait for someone I don’t know, taking that extra step of sitting down to meet with them and getting to interact one-on-one with the pet is so helpful. It gives me an opportunity to come up with something truly unique and special. Also, it makes the actual process of coming up with an idea for a portrait so much easier and much more fun to paint because I feel like I really know the animal I am painting.
I hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about my process for creating the pet portrait “Heck Crew: Bode, Howie, and Case-Dog.” To order your own pet portrait, please contact me at email@example.com!