Austin based Haute Dog Magazine: portraits of an artist and her beloved dog

The spring issue of Austin's own Haute Dog Magazine features a portrait I created of artist, Marnie Hart, and her incredibly sweet and loyal dog, Bonham, a handsome German Shepherd she resuced from a shelter the day before he was to be euthanized. Marnie is a high school art teacher who wrote and beautifully illustrated a book entitled "I Promise to.." All of the proceeds currently go to local non-profit organizations to help save the lives of animals. Please visit her website for more information on purchasing the book or cards to support her important cause. Part of why I love my job as a photographer is that I get to meet people and animals with whom I may otherwise never get a chance to connect. Marnie and her family certainly added to that list of connections I cherish and I was thrilled about the assignment. She is truly passionate, talented and committed to her project and I'm so glad I have had the chance to photograph her and Bonham.  We spent the afternoon getting to know one another, photographing, talking, and playing with the dogs... it was fantastic.

I'm excited to share the article from Haute Dog Magazine here in Austin... This is an incredibly high caliber magazine filled with amazing images, stories and resources. Please visit their website above to subscribe!

We had a blast. As you can see in the image on the right everything always goes to plan! Haha.

Continued success with your project, Marnie and I thank you for sharing your talents to benefit the animals who need all the help they can get!

Petcasso fundraiser art revealed

Last evening the Animal Trustees of Austin held their 5th annual Petcasso fundraiser here in Austin and it was a huge success! Last week I shared a small portion of the art I created for this project and I promised to reveal the entire piece. I'm excited to say that my painting/photograph raised $2400 during the live auction for the Animal Trustees of Austin! There were some amazing paintings included in the auction that also raised significant funding for the organization.

The final piece is titled, "Sisters" inspired by two loving chihuahua sisters named Kiki and Coco.

I'd love to share a little bit about the process with you.

When I was asked to participate in this project I was really excited (and as I mentioned earlier, very nervous) to have the opportunity to work closely with an animal welfare project here in Austin. These two sweet dogs were in foster care, awaiting a permanent home when I photographed them.

My idea was to photograph the dogs and create a mixed media piece of art. I photographed the dogs against a green background so I would be able to delete the background in Photoshop and create an entirely white background ready for paint. I could have photographed them on white, but due to timing and space issues this was the best solution. The dogs were nervous and quivery (as are most chihuahuas!) during the beginning of the portrait session. They weren't incredibly interested in treats and I think they just needed time to get used to me and my camera. The more calm I became the more relaxed they got. They eventually sat down for a couple of seconds back to back. I loved the shaped that their bodies made when they joined together and I had a pretty good idea that this was going to be the image for my painting.

After photographing these two tiny ladies I worked on the computer editing the image from the background. I then had to recreate hair in Photoshop because it is not easy to include the thin hairs when you're deleting a background from a photograph. It was important to me to have these details included despite the tedious process of drawing hair for a few hours! I then had the photograph printed as an 18" x 36" canvas wrap. In the end, the structure resembled a painting because the canvas was wrapped around wooden supports and the photograph is actually printed on canvas.

When I received the canvas with the photograph printed on it I started painting with acrylic paint. I love color and wanted to use warm colors that blended toward the center where the dogs' bodies joined. I used brushes as well as palette knives to add the color. After I created a base painting it was time to get the artistic influence of the chihuahuas. I met them at the Animal Trustees of Austin and they helped add some of their chihuahua "flair" with their tiny paws. It was at that time that a video of our production was created and Kiki and Coco became superstars.

After the sisters artistic touch was added I finalized the painting and passed it on to the organization for the big event.

This was absolutely a delightful project and in addition to being able to help an amazing organization I am now inspired to explore this style for more painting and photography combinations. I'm happy to say that Kiki and Coco now have a permanent, loving home and so does their portrait.

Petcasso fundraiser in Austin. Can you guess what kind of dog inspired my art for this great cause?

When recently asked to create a piece of art for the Animal Trustees of Austin's 5th Annual Petcasso fundraising event my palms started sweating. Literally. I mean, I love to paint, but I've never painted a piece of art that was hopeful to raise much needed dollars for anyone before. Having said that, Animal Trustees of Austin is an amazing non-profit animal organization and I was honored (and actually really excited) to get over the sweaty palms and dive into the project. I chose to create a multi-media piece involving photography (surprised?) and abstract painting with a little help from a couple of four-legged friends. My piece, along with some other creative pieces, will be held for live auction Sunday, April 17th during the Petcasso event and my hope is that it raises some well deserved funding. I'm so thankful that I am starting to get to know the animal welfare community here in Austin. There are many terrific organizations here and it truly is a community. I am looking forward to continuing to get involved on many levels.

The unveiling isn't until this Sunday's event but I thought I'd share a small section of my art.

Any guesses as to what kind of dog inspired this piece?




Thank you to the Animal Trustees of Austin for asking me to participate in this amazing project. I have truly enjoyed being involved and look forward to the event this weekend!

I'll let you know how the event goes and will of course share the rest of the story with you.

About the Animal Trustees of Austin:

Animal Animal Trustees of Austin, Inc. (ATA) is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit animal welfare organization. ATA was founded in May of 1993 by concerned citizens desiring to help lost, abused, and abandoned animals in Austin and surrounding counties and to end the crisis of animal overpopulation through sterilization.

ATA began with the rescue of Keller, a tiny Chihuahua, born with no eyes. Her spirit sparked the creation of this group of caring women who wanted to help shelter animals, especially special-needs animals. These dedicated "founding mothers" started what is now Animal Trustees of Austin.

The organization has grown to include clinics for both wellness and spay/neuter services, provides several programs for animal welfare, and hosts several events throughout the year. Since March 1997, the Spay/Neuter Clinic has safely performed over 85,000 surgeries. Since its inception in June 2002, the Wellness Clinic has provided services to over 131,000 animals.