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Heard About "The Mona Vizsla"? – Interview with Ashley Reid, an Amazing Pet Portrait Artist

"The Mona Vizsla" 18x24" Oil on canvas 2004

Yes, we love our pets. In my household I have  more pictures of my dogs than my family (oooops!) and I’m always looking for new, interesting and unique ways to show off my dogs’ beauty:). That’s how I found Ashley Beech Reid’s website http://www.ashleyreid.net – I was surfing for an exceptional pet portrait artist – and I found her.

I thoroughly enjoyed the picture gallery on Ashley’s website, admiring all the stunning portraits of people’s beloved dogs and cats she has been painting on canvas, and recognized at once her immense talent. She shows tremendous skill in picking a special angle, look, characteristic of your pet, making every single piece unique and special.

We are honored to interview this young artist, Ashley Beech Reid, a passionate dog lover who donates 10% of her sales to the work of rescue groups. She shared with us her secrets to success – and how an ordinary dog picture becomes a masterpiece on canvas.

Ashley’s new book, “Ashley Beech Reid’s Pet Portraits ~ the 16×16″ series” is hot off the presses at Blurb. You can take a sneak peek at 19 of my favorite paintings and place your order if you’re a fan, a friend, or an animal lover. http://www.blurb.com/books/2816012

How did the idea for your business with pet portraits come about?

When I turned twenty nine I got my first dog. He is a Vizsla named Sayge. I painted him many times over, but it wasn’t

until I captured him in “The Mona Vizsla”, (a copy of Da Vinci’s portrait of The Mona Lisa), that the idea to paint other

people’s pet portraits was born.

What is your background as an artist?

I wanted to be an artist ever since I was a little girl. I remember discovering in second grade that my art project was

better than most of my  classmates and that I had a talent for it. Throughout high school I focused my studies on art and

later went  to Edinboro University of PA, graduating with an BSA in Art Education. When I couldn’t get a teaching job I

returned to Edinboro three years later and received a Master’s Degree in Art with a concentration in painting.

What do you love most about painting dogs/pets?

I love watching a portrait come to life…I post progression pics of each painting from photo to sketch to finished

piece on my facebook portrait page. Making the 10% donations has also become one of my favorite parts of the process.

"Dream of the Bull Terrier" 36x48" oil on canvas 2004

I checked your picture gallery on http://www.ashleyreid.net and I love your work. You are an amazing artist. If I want you to paint a picture of my dog, what do I have to do first?

If someone is interested in a portrait they can contact me through my website or via email to

ashleybeechreid@gmail.com. I will reply with all of the info on the portraits from canvas sizes, to prices, to process (I

work from my client’s photos, completing a painting in 2-3 days), and the wait time (currently 6 months). I will put an

interested client into my queue and they send the photo(s) they like, decide on the type of background (color or scene),

and think about where they’d like to donate the 10%.

You use the picture of a dog as a draft/pattern. Do you have any tips for readers about taking great photos of their dogs?

Photo tips…take close up photos! If the pet is so far from the camera that it’s difficult to see details of the face,

then it is harder for me to capture their likeness. Photos taken in natural light, rather than with a flash or in bright

sunlight, will show the true color of the pet. If you have trouble getting your pet to be still I suggest putting them in

a sit down stay. Set your digital camera to take multiple pics in a minute, hold a treat up near the camera to get your

dog’s attention, and start snapping. In most cases there will be one perfect photo amongst the 50 or 60 that were taken.

In some cases where the pet has passed and the client only has old photos, that perhaps aren’t of great quality, then I do

the best that I can with what’s available.

"Four Squared" 4 ~ 16x16" acrylic on canvas "Bert" , "Olympia", "Roscoe" and "Jake" 2011 All of these portraits are rescue dogs.

You paint in acrylics on 6 different canvas sizes. Tell us a little about you work and the process of a new portrait.

(Actually I have 7 different canvas sizes that I offer. I recently added a new size of 24×24).  I start a painting with

a base coat color on the canvas. Next I start a preliminary sketch that I work up to a nicely finished drawing. After that

I usually start with the background first, then add the dark tones, the white, and the colors, until the first coat of

paint is on the entire canvas is complete. This usually takes one day. The second day I add the second coat of paint with

final details. I also finish all four sides of the canvas so that the painting seems to continue over the sides, giving it

a more finished look that does not require framing. Finally, I put on a coat of protective varnish to finish.

Could you give us a quick overview about your pricing? Are you affordable to everyone:)?

I believe art should be affordable and available to all.

I offer 7 canvas sizes ranging from the smallest 16×16 for $185, to the largest 36×48  for $850.

I also ask for additional $ if more than one pet is in the painting (generally $25 per pet).

16×16   $185 (this size is a nice, modern square for individual head shots.)

16×20     275 (good size for head and shoulders or two head shots.)

18×24     350 (recommended for three dogs)

24×24     425 (good for one big head shot or four dogs)

24×30     500

30×40     650

36×48     850

On your Facebook page people can follow your progress on a new picture, you publish pictures of the single steps. How long does it take to finish a portrait of a single dog?

Generally a painting takes two days. I sketch one evening. The next day I finish the first coat on the entire canvas.

The following day I finish up the second coat with final details.  If it’s multiple pets then it will take a couple of more

days.

How would you say is your style or what is different to other animal/pet/dog painters/artists?

I have a rather unique, stylized style, not photorealistic (like a photograph). I use a lot of solid color backgrounds

which give the portraits a contemporary feel while focusing on the pet’s unique facial features. I like the viewer to be

drawn to the subject’s eyes which are truly windows into the soul.

What has been your #1 favorite picture so far?

"10 Pits" 36x48" acrylic on canvas 2011 These beauties were composed from ten separate photos on the largest canvas I offer.

I don’t have one favorite portrait, more like a top 5. (I’ll attach some of these in a separate email for you).

How many dogs did you already paint on canvas?

I have 264 pics of dog and cat portraits on my website.

Where do you find the inspiration to keep your paintings unique? How do you decide on the colors you use?

I keep the portraits unique with the input of my clients. I ask them what style of background they would like…color

or scene. I like them to be a part of the process. Each pet is so unique I think the subject matter makes it easy to stay

fresh.

You are a full time freelance artist, painting subjects you love. What is the secret of your success and do you have any ideas, tips or advice for the next talented artist who might want to start a business like yours?

#1. Don’t give up. It’s taken me over 15 yrs. to finally find my niche and develop my own style.

#2. Give some back. I think the fact that I donate 10% to the animal organization of my client’s choice has a lot

to do with my success.

#3 Be affordable and you’ll get more commissions. I just booked my 265th commission since 1/1/10 and have a 6

month wait time.

You are a animal rescue supporter and you are willing to donate 10% of your painting sale to organization chosen by the buyer. And you are about to make your 62nd donation to a rescue. How much did you already donate?

Actually I am about to make my 179th donation (the number of donations in my facebook info is old). I’ve donated

$4,823 since 1/1/10.

In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?

I never knew about the vast world of rescues and shelters until I joined facebook and saw the incredible efforts being

made to save these amazing animals. If you adopt a cat or dog from a shelter or rescue, not only are you saving that

animal’s life, but you are making room (for the org.) to save another. What could be better than that?

Do you have pets of your own?

I do have a 10 yr. Vizsla, Sayge.

"Rosie, Bruno, Petunia, Starbuck, and Oliver" 24x30" acrylic on canvas 2011

Which websites or pet-related books would you recommend to PackPeople?

Hmmm, well first I would recommend my own site! haha…

Second, if you are interested in a pet, I recommend Googling a breed’s specific rescue (they are out there and they are willing to transport if not in your area) or your local shelter’s website…and you might just find your four legged soul mate.

You want your beloved pet’s picture on canvas? Please contact Ashley: info@ashleyreid.net or use the Contact form on her website. See full picture gallery here.

http://www.ashleyreid.net

Web: http://www.ashleyreid.net

Twitter: @TheMonaVizsla

Facebook: Ashley Beech Reid’s Pet Portraits

Spreading the word can help save lives! If you liked the interview please share it with your community by clicking the Facebook and Twitter icons at the bottom of this article or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact!

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