Pet Palette Portraiture on Parade

A few of the recently completed Rachael Bright’s custom pet portraits starting at $80. Courtesy photo.

By Kelly MacConomy

Pets enrich our lives in so many wondrous ways. Unless your best friend is a turtle or a parrot, living to be one hundred, they leave us all too soon. One way to immortalize them is pet portraiture.

If you have ever attempted to photograph your restless, excitable Poodle or fiercely independent Little Tabby, you know how challenging it immediately becomes to get them to pose, least of all stay for a single exposure. On Exhibit has found two local artists whose pet sitting rates are affordable and whose artistic interpretations and palette color expression are sure to please all.

Betty Grisham in Studio 17 of the Torpedo Factory Art Center has been a working artist for decades. Born and raised in Missouri, Betty received her BS degree in art education from the Missouri State University. She has spent most of her adult life here in Northern Virginia.

Betty accepts commissions of pet and people portraiture. Pet portraits start at $350. She works in many mediums: drawing, print, gouache and oil, which she prefers. Betty offers a variety of pet and animal-themed prints based upon select past works which vary in price depending upon the print making process. Iris Giclee Reproductions are limited-edition prints on Somerset Velvet 100% rag paper. Smaller inkjet prints by Betty using archival ink on acid-free paper are less expensive and vary in composition.

“Pledge of Allegiance” Signed, Limited Edition Print by Betty Grisham $300.

Working from photographs provided by the pet parents, reserving her painterly prerogatives to render Rover according to her artistic vision, Betty creates a realistic representation of her four-legged (or less) subjects, all the while conveying the uniqueness of the animals’ essence- their esprit de corps. Each pawticular pet personality is captured, shining through with Betty’s able brush strokes and skillful complement of color to shape and dimension. You get a sense that Betty takes the canvas from abstraction to realism with the greatest of ease. As if looking at a Cezanne in reverse- from impressionistic to realistic.

Betty is in fact an accomplished abstract painter as well. Her canvas recently won a Gold Medal in the Open Exhibit show juried by David C. Terry at the Art League across from her studio in the Torpedo Factory. Betty oftentimes can be seen at work on a canvas or drawing. Her studio is open late Thursday nights and for special events and artist association occasions. Come visit Betty’s work and meet the artist. Bring your furry friends. Pets are always welcome at the Torpedo Factory.

A few short blocks from the Torpedo Factory, tucked into the historic Crilley Warehouse, is the Local Colour Gallery and Boutique where Rachael Bright displays not only exciting contemporary artists (working on canvas alongside craft artisans in jewelry making, plus a variety of home decor and gifts) but also features as well her own artful specialty: pet portraiture.

Pet portraits start at $100. Simply email a favorite photograph of your precious pooch, pretty little pony, perky parrot or finicky Persian. Local Colour’s motto is if you want it we can paint it. And if you can even only describe it they will endeavor to make it. Rachael and team are indefatigably creative. No dream is impossible. No vision too grand.

Rachael Bright of Local Colour Gallery. Photograph by Lucelle O’Flaherty

Rachael’s palette is joyful, vivid, aptly bright. There’s a Pop Art quality to the pet portraiture composition and expression of color. Perish the thought of purchasing art to go with the sofa or rug; Rachael’s canvasses are décor-friendly, equally compatible over a fireplace mantle or dining table as they would be in a nursery or playroom. Make space in the family room gallery for that special canvas of your kitty or pup posing with its favorite squeaky toy. You know you’re going to want it. Let’s face it, in Port City, pets rule the roost.

Local Colour is at 218 North Lee St., Suite 107 Phone: 571-317-7317 Open typically 12-6:30 PM