Painting With Puppies
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because inside your precious pooch there may be a talented artist just waiting to be released onto a canvas.
By Lorena O'Neil
Have you ever looked at your dog and thought, “Wow, you would make such a wonderful painter”?
The answer to that is likely a “No” mixed with an inquisitive look, unless your name is Ginny Fisher.
Fisher runs a small business in New Orleans called Puppy Picasso, where she helps your beloved pet frolic around on a canvas, paws doused in paint, all in the name of art (and pet love). The resulting artwork is splotches of colorful paint splattered on the canvas Jackson Pollock-style, smeared with what could be a paintbrush but, upon closer inspection, is the work of a canine’s paws. Some of the paintings are more impressive and “artsy” looking than others, depending on the smear-level and excitement of the dog.
Artwork made by a beloved pet is much more exciting than a photograph.
“I just kind of made it up,” says Fisher. She explains that she started making dog artwork with her own puppy, because she wanted to have something her dog made. Her father photographed the painting and was having the picture blown up at Sam’s Club when a woman behind him asked what the artwork was. “He told her I had done a painting all with my dog’s paws, and the woman wanted one with her dog,” says Fisher.
Since starting the side business a year ago — Fisher is a part-time bookkeeper in New Orleans — dozens of people have come to her to get their dogs’ paws on canvases. They like the idea of having artwork made by their beloved pet, and Fisher says they see it as much more exciting than a photograph of their dog.
She tapes a piece of canvas — 16 by 20, 24 by 36 or 36 by 48 inches — to the floor, puts paint all over the fenced-in canvas and leads the animal around with treats to direct where she wants it to go. “I tried putting paint [directly] on the paws, but it’s not as much texture,” she says.
Even if you aren’t purchasing any art, it is pretty darn amusing to watch the pup-artists at work.
Not all artists are puppies. Many are older dogs whose owners are looking to commemorate them. Fisher has even conducted the artwork with cats. She’s good with animals, having previously held jobs as a dog bather, groomer and veterinary technician, and she is a regular volunteer foster for several animal shelters in New Orleans.
Fisher charges $400 to $500 for the finished product and gives a percentage of her profits to pet rescue shelters. She even videotapes the process and includes the DVD in her final bundle. Not going to lie: Even if you aren’t purchasing any art, it is pretty darn amusing to watch the pup-artists at work.
The paintings are often gifts for the dog owner. Fisher says she recently helped a groom and bridesmaids make art with a bride’s two dogs, as a present for her bridal shower.
Just as every artist must clean used brushes, Fisher emphasizes that the puppy painting experience “comes with a bath.”
Warning: Puppy Picasso does not include a manual on how to deal with your dog’s ego once he or she sees the masterpiece hanging proudly on your wall.