Why I Paint Pet Portraits
If a photograph can capture a moment in time, then my paintings make that moment timeless. Predominantly, my work is made up of animals, and to be specific, they are the beloved pets of my patrons. I did not fully understand the loyal and intrinsic love and connection between person and pet, until I got my own furry companion, an Australian Shepherd named Milo. Pet owners take thousands of pictures and videos of their pets, trying to capture each fleeting moment of joy, goofiness and endearment. Those pictures and videos are just that though, a fleeting moment, often blurry, in poor lighting, and never truly capturing the essence of what made the moment special enough to capture in the first place. I paint pets of past and present for people who want to elevate an image of their treasured friend to something more. My paintings bring the truth of an image forward, the parts that couldn’t be captured in a photo. With my oil paints, I realistically render the pet in a way that heightens the light, contrast, texture, personality, environment and atmosphere of the image. I want the viewer to engage with who and how the subject is, instead of when it was and what was happening. A photo will always be a moment from the past, while my paintings make the pet alive in the present moment with the viewer forever.
Back in college, at Christopher Newport University, I started painting co-worker's dogs to raise money for my study abroad trip to Florence, Italy. Word spread and I continued getting requests for pet portraits from family and friends. After earning my Bachelor's of Fine Art and Master's of Art in Teaching degrees from CNU, I began teaching elementary art at a school in Ashland, Virginia. Painting quickly filled my free time outside of school and I decided to establish my growing "side gig" as a business. Not only did I create an extensive portfolio of commissioned paintings, I also became a published illustrator for the children's picture book, "What the Dickens?!?! The Tale of a Rascally Pup," written by Tamera Kersey.
While I continued to teach, painting continued to fill my "free time" and holidays. Throughout the 2020-21 year, I had a taste of what my life could be like as a full-time artist during various school closures and quarantines. I decided to shift my professional goals and leave my career in public education to pursue my painting business full-time. It was an incredibly rewarding five years of personal and professional growth as an educator while nurturing the creativity of my young students. As fulfilling as teaching was, I am passionate about spreading joy to others through my own art and establishing my own legacy in the future of art. I have since multiplied the number of patrons' lives I have touched through capturing their beloved pets in a timeless painting. With an ever growing schedule of pet portrait commissions, I am also teaching community group paint events and beginning to illustrate my second book with Tamera Kersey. My goals for the future are forever expanding and the possibilities to educate and build a sustainable business are endless.
Where I Come From
My husband, Brandon, and I met back during our freshman year of college, and as they say, the rest is history! After our wedding in 2017, we moved to Mechanicsville, Virginia, where we have enjoyed building a life together with our energetic Australian Shepherd, Milo. We both work from home now and spend most evenings working out at our local SoGo Crossfit gym. Brandon's support and confidence in me and my growing business has been instrumental in empowering me to pursue my goals as an artist.
I have been practicing art since I was just a little girl. My creativity was cultivated at home where my parents always supplied my sisters and me with art-making materials and signed us up for local art camps. My mom, Debbie Lord, always had projects for us to work on at home like making firework paintings for the fourth of July and oven-bake clay animals on the weekends. My dad, Doug Lord, inspired in me a curiosity of how things are made and if something is broken, do a little research because you can fix anything!
One person I am hugely inspired by is my Grandma, Barbara Lord. She has been making things with her hands her whole life and instilled in me an appreciation for the history behind the everyday tools and items used in different cultures. Things like baskets and blankets and sails on boats, things that are taken for granted by most, and she always asks the questions: who made it, what is it made of and how was it made? There is a craftsman (or woman) or inventor or designer behind everything we use!