Paw Palettes Art Collection Blog
Hello readers from all over! My name is Gretchen Kish Serrano—the artist from Paw Palettes. I truly enjoy connecting with people, sharing creative ideas and learning about their pets. While I appreciate the personal interaction when exhibiting my art, I find the opportunity of sharing my passion with the internet’s worldwide audience to be very exciting. I’ve created this short video to introduce myself, illustrate my admiration for the Masters of art and my love for painting pets. Thank you so much for visiting!
“How did you come up with this idea? I have often been asked. In considering the response, I have come to realize, this idea has been years in-the-making.
My first pet, Nikki—a Toy Fox Terrier, was presented to me on my 8th birthday. At first I was a little disappointed when I opened the box and saw the tiny creature inside. I had envisioned a big dog to run and play with. It did not take long for me to learn how such a small animal could capture your heart in a big way. In 7th grade I painted a watercolor of Nikki. This artwork provided no indication that I had a future in pet art of any kind!
I have always loved to draw and paint. In college, my dream was to major in Fine Art, however my practical nature led me to major in Visual Communication. My own mother was a commercial artist and the grantor of my artistic ability. My design curriculum included courses in Art History, Figure Drawing, Color Theory and Painting— where I first discovered a common practice in the study of painting: copying the work of a Master.
After college, I worked at a large advertising agency, an experience I credit to developing my conceptual thinking. This company also allowed me the opportunity to take classes at The Art Institute of Chicago, a real thrill for me. My older brother Eric had been a full-time student. Again, my instructor assigned a project to copy a famous painting. He suggested we select a work included in the Art Institute collection. We were asked to bring in examples of the famous painting reproduced in three different sources. I was surprised to see the variation in color, clarity and size from publication to publication. Our instructor emphasized the only way to truly experience these works was to view them in person. I have always admired Picasso and selected a piece from his Blue Period: The Old Guitarist, painted in 1903.
Shown above, the images on the left and center are from different online sources and illustrate how varied the reproductions can be! The first example is much cooler in tone, more of a purple-blue and the second example is more green. The framed work on the right is my completed project. My canvas was not quite vertical enough and I squished the poor old man to fit!
Not long after my studies at the Art Institute, I purchased my first home with a yard and it was time to adopt my first dog! I visited The Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago and it’s no surprise I came home with “an oversized Nikki.”
Sophie, a Beagle-Whippet mix, has the same coloring, pointed nose and ears. I understand why some people fall in love with a certain breed or type of pet. Sometimes when they steal your heart…it is gone forever! With her graphic harlequin eyes, Sophie soon became a favorite subject of mine to paint.
Another painting by Picasso, Child With a Dove, 1901, had always been a favorite of mine. A friend’s daughter with beautiful blue eyes became the inspiration for my version of this painting. Someone commented, “You should paint portraits of people’s children.” I had the realization, “I’d rather paint their pets!” I then chose the very graphic “Boston Terrier” to take the place of the “Child.” The finished painting made me smile…and another pet artist was born!
How did I decide to paint in other artistic styles? What made me think to name each style? This idea occured to me gradually. “Pawcasso” was obvious.Then, I started thinking how much I admire Van gogh’s “strokey” painting style. Wouldn’t a dog, with all it’s fur, looks great painted in the style of Van gogh? I was intimidated, I have to admit. I had never tried to paint “like that.” I chose to paint my neighbor’s dog KC, a beautiful Westie. She inspired the very first “Van Growl®.” Again, the name seemed rather obvious, yet I hadn’t heard it before. KC’s painting turned out adorable as much of a credit to KC as to the artist! My neighbor was very pleased and that encouraged me to keep thinking…and painting. I’ve always loved Matisse…“Muttisse®” of course! Monet, a little more challenging, however Bonét® seemed quite appropriate.
I began focusing my time on aquiring pet portrait comissions. After three requests for similar dogs, I realized I didn’t want to be limited to what was commissioned, I wanted to paint all dogs! I had finally found a perfect subject for me. So much variety— different colors, sizes, shapes, floppy ears, pointed ears, long fur, short fur, smashed nosed, strong snouts, long tails, fluffy tails, no tails! As I paint each pet I watch them come to life in front of me. I’m not just making pictures, I’m creating characters. I talk about “my yorkshire terrier” or “my mastiff” and people actually ask me their names. I sheepishly tell them that they live in my art.
Along the way I’ve also thought of more styles to paint in. I love Degas—Dogas®! (I couldn’t quite believe that one.) Chagall—Chagrowl®. Botticelli—Barkicelli®…and more! This is so much fun for me as an artist. I find it rewarding when I meet people who connect with my art. I feel very strongly that all our pets deserve a tribute, a place in Paw Palettes Master-Inspired Art Collection.
So, I paint on. I look forward to the day when I can always answer “Yes” to another question I’m so often asked, “Have you painted my breed?”
A selection of my impressionistic dog art
When I began painting dogs I had no idea how far it would take me. Most days are now spent envisioning, sketching, painting or discussing my next master inspired painting, fueling my passion for art and my love for dogs. I thought that for my first post it would be nice to simply present my art through a small slide show. Enjoy!