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Dog portrait drawings of Mabel and Abby

custom hand drawn dog portraits of Mabel and Abby-detail

OK, I fully admit I have a soft spot in my heart for small dogs in particular…but this pair of larger dogs totally captured my heart, too.

This was another portrait commission that came out of the  r/AccidentalWesAnderson subreddit post my husband made. Mabel’s and Abby’s dad, Wayne, emailed me to see if I could draw his dogs as a surprise for his wife. He describes Mabel as a big clumsy dog that’s scared of the world and Abby as an angsty teenager.

Wayne left it up to me to create concepts to tell the stories of their personalities. For Mabel, since she’s scared of the world, I combined a scared expression with a butterfly on her nose to represent something non-threatening that she’d be unnecessarily afraid of. The floral border is inspired by lilies, which is a flower that symbolizes humility and devotion. To me this suggests an innocence that resonates with the description of her being big and clumsy + scared of the world, as well as the devotion of a dog. Her size in relation to the frame and name banner suggests that idea of being big and awkward.

For Abby, I used the description of being an angsty teenager to incorporate elements associated with an angsty teen: headphones so they can tune out the world that doesn’t understand them, and dried up roses that suggest sensitivity while being a bit edgy. Her expression is a cross between pained and apathetic. Anyone else thinking of the movie Say Anything right now??

sketches of dog portraits for Mabel and Abby

I knew that for Abby I wanted to go with darker colors to fit with her angsty disposition. So to contrast with that and be in keeping with the butterfly and lilies, Mabel’s color palette is more soft and innocent.

custom hand drawn dog portraits of Mabel and Abby

One of my favorite parts of making these portraits is working with the eyes and eyebrows to capture the right expression. There’s so much potential there! And that moment when I add the white highlights in the eyes is just the icing on the cake.

After a few weeks of shipping the portraits to Wayne, I asked if he’d given them to his wife yet. I didn’t want to post about them and accidentally spoil the surprise. But he said he couldn’t wait until her birthday to give them to her — which is what happened when Libbie ordered portraits of her dogs Scout and Tuck. I think that’s about the best compliment. Thank you to Wayne for allowing me to create portraits of these special girls!

Drawing of Buster the French Bulldog

 

portrait of Buster the French Bulldog

How cute is Buster?! This was another portrait commission that came out of the  r/AccidentalWesAnderson subreddit post my husband made. This French Bulldog’s dad, John, emailed me after he saw the portrait of Scout. He wanted to capture a few things in the portrait:

  1. a beret (after all, il est francais!)
  2. Buster’s favorite toy, which John and his wife call Olympic man

The photo he provided was absolutely fantastic, and since he described his little guy as alert but not overly hyper, I thought it was the perfect reference angle. The slight head cock and expression lent themselves well to capturing his alertness — he looks very curious, like he’s absorbing everything he hears.

I asked John if he had any other words to describe Buster, and he said “sleepy and hungry. It’s all he does.” lol!

The toy they call Olympic Man was apparently part of a BarkBox at some point…I mentioned it to my friend Niki (dog mom to Fiona) and she remembered getting it herself. I thought that was so cute.

Buster the French Bulldog reference photos

To get around Buster’s ears, I sketched the beret in a shrunk-down size so it nestles down between them. I envisioned it in a classic dark blue because that would coordinate well with the decor I saw in the photo.

John suggested we portray Olympic Man like an Olympic medal, hanging around his neck, which was exactly what I had been imagining when he first mentioned the toy. I love it when that happens!

Since we had this Olympic theme going, I chose olive branches for the botanical element along the sides because it’s what they used to crown winning athletes with.

sketch of Buster the French Bulldog

Since Buster’s coloring is white, charcoal grey, and soft pink, I wanted to keep his color palette rather muted. The olive branches fit perfectly with this, and don’t overpower the blue and gold medal.

I took an in-progress photo every so often so I look back and see how it developed.

 

I’m super happy with how this portrait came out, especially when I look into his eyes. The soft grey-blue shines like he’s going to pop off the paper and start walking around.

mixed media custom portrait drawing of Buster the French Bulldog

If you’re interested in having me draw a portrait of your dog, just reach out with the form below.

Drawing of Cooper, the fearless rescue dog

Cooper in progress detail-sq

I’ve had an awesome month, art-wise. Well, lots of other ways, too! But anyway, a month ago my husband discovered the r/AccidentalWesAnderson subreddit (we’re both Wes Anderson fans). Since it ended up having a vibe appropriate for this thread, he shared my portrait of Scout on it. The next morning we discovered tons of comments and enthusiasm about the piece and several people reached out to see how they could get a drawing of their dog as well.

One of these fellow Wes Anderson fans who messaged me was Cooper’s dad, Zachary. He loved the human expression captured in Scout’s face and had a fantastic concept in mind for his dog’s portrait. Cooper had been rescued from the top of a mountain, is a fearless jumper, and has a habit of squinting in an unamused way when it’s windy.

Zachary combined these elements (and Cooper’s trademark giant ears!) and imagined him as an old-school bi-plane pilot with a scarf, toothpick, and mountains in the background. Very creative concept, and I was excited to be able to work on it.

Cooper reference photos for custom drawing

The first sketch I created with these elements was looking good to me. But when I got Zachary’s feedback he helped make it even better by suggesting the mountains get taller and skinnier, and moving the bi-plane into the distance. It pushed the whimsical nature of the drawing, and helped create a sense of depth.

sketches of Cooper

It’s always so cool when a collaboration like this helps take a project to a new level! It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of creating for me.

I took an in-progress photo every so often so I look back and see how it developed.

I really like how alive the eyes are — the combination of squint and raised eyebrows has that human look Zachary was looking for. When I sent him the image to check out before shipping the final artwork, he said it was just how he had imagined. Which totally made my day.

Final mixed media drawing of Cooper the fearless rescue dog

Portrait of a Corgi with his signature smile

After I had the pleasure of drawing portraits of a friend’s dogs last fall, another friend saw them and asked if I would create a portrait of her business partner’s dog, Gumby.

Rebekah wanted to give the portrait to her partner and his wife as a Christmas present, and I was so happy that she trusted me with the project. She sent a few photos of Gumby with different expressions. And she wanted to include elements of his favorite blanket (that went with him on a very special beach vacation) and the fern in their back yard that he likes to…”visit” several times a day ;)

To get started, I made sure we were on the same page with approach by creating initial sketches based on her concepts and photos.

Sketched concepts for portrait artwork of Gumby the Corgi

Rebekah picked the sketch on the left, saying that the goofy smile definitely feels like signature Gumby. 

I only took one in-progress picture of this one. It’s so fascinating to me to see how the drawings begin as flat contour sketches, and bit by bit develop into something so expressive.

in progress drawing of Gumby the Corgi

The final portrait really captures Gumby’s big smile and happy personality. And the sparkle in his eyes! I just want to give him a big bear hug. His blanket design is incorporated into the name banner, and his favorite fern frames him on the sides.

portrait of Gumby the Corgi

Rebekah had the portrait framed for gifting. I wasn’t there when she gave it to her partner and his wife, but she said they got tears in their eyes when they saw it. And they got it out again during dinner to look at it again. When she told me this story I teared up myself! It was so touching and I absolutely love that I was able to help them have a merry Christmas.

I’m so happy to be making these portraits for dog lovers! It’s something I’d like to be doing more of, so if you’d like to chat about a custom portrait of your dog, you can fill out this form:

Quirky dog portraits of a pair of beloved hounds

Last fall my friend, Libbie, saw one of my Instagram posts of Dachshund illustrations and asked if I could draw portraits of her two dogs as a Christmas gift to her wife, Lindsay.

Yes, please!

She wanted capture them in a quirky way and had fantastic concepts in mind. For Scout, their black and white hound mix with adorable spots, she wanted to reflect his aloofness by portraying him as a Frenchman with a beret and cigarette hanging out of his mouth. And for Tuck, their dark brown hound with sweet eyes, she wanted to feature a bib around his neck to reflect his food-motivated personality.

She was also hoping to include floral edging around the dogs with their names below, to frame them nicely on the paper. And with the quirky approach she was after, I recommended using hand-drawn techniques, with evidence of the imperfections and personality of the materials showing through rather than the digital look (which is more smooth and polished).

I hadn’t met her dogs before, so I loved seeing the photos she sent! I also asked if she had any favorite plants or flowers that I could consider for the frame.

 

To get started, I made sure we were on the same page with approach by creating initial sketches based on her concepts and photos.

Concept sketches of the illustration artwork for Scout and Tuck
Before moving on to the final paper and materials, I created these sketches to make sure the direction was approved.

Libbie loved the sketches and requested that I make the floral frame in a style like one of my watercolor wreaths that she spotted on my Instagram feed:

watercolor wreath

I remembered to take a few progress photos…that’s something I really want to do more of, but it’s so hard to remember!

 

I’m so happy with how the final portraits turned out. They’re made with colored pencil (all of the little fur details drawn stroke by stroke), with watercolor and gouache for the floral frame and banner. I used accent colors that would coordinate with the area of the house she wanted to hang them.

Colored pencil dog portraits of Scout and Tuck

And the best part: she was thrilled with them and couldn’t wait until Christmas to give them to her wife. Who picked right up on all of the details that we had worked so hard to include. It was an amazing project and I hope to do a lot more artwork like this!

“I love them so so much!! Gah. I’m literally so in love with these. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Oh, and the best, best part! Lindsay pointed out an influence of Wes Anderson in them, whose classic-yet-quirky style I find so inspiring.

If you’d like to chat about a custom portrait of your dog, you can fill out this form:

Stickers featuring your pet

Custom Pet Portrait sticker sheets by Oxford Dogma

I’m excited to be offering a new companion product to the Custom Dog Portrait!

I don’t know about you, but I seem to always be out of gift tags when I’m wrapping a gift for someone. To solve this dilemma, I’ve been wanting to make my own gift tag stickers for so long. Well, earlier this year I bought a Silhouette Cameo and am able to cut out custom shapes from sticker paper. What a fun tool for a maker!

I make each sheet (7 1/2″ x 10″) of 18 stickers based on a Custom Dog Portrait, and now pet parents can have some labels with their very own fur baby on them. There are a variety of sizes and shapes, and I designed them with neutral colors so that they can be used on any occasion. In addition to gift labels, they can be used for addressing an envelope or to decorate a planner. I’m a total planner girl (Bullet Journal for me!) and would also love to design planner stickers like these.

CPP-gift-tag-stickers-product-image

If you’d like a custom portrait of your pup and matching stickers, send me a note on my contact page. I’m working on making this process easier, but in the mean time that will work best!

Safely adventuring with little dogs

Grand Tetons Yellowstone 2017 Pipsqueak and Bosco in their Adventure Harnesses

I finished the test versions of the Adventure Harness just in time for our trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Bosco and Pipsqueak got tons of good use out of them! It was easy to wipe off dirt and mud, although they needed a deeper clean when we got back home.

Adventure Harnesses with leash and bag dispenser for Pipsqueak and Bosco

The harness is made from a water-resistant nylon fabric and features a cargo pocket — where we stash extra poop bags for when we accidentally run out of them in the Bag Dispenser — and clear plastic ID pocket in case you get separated from your fur baby. The strap on the back is made from reflective material, and the harness closes with sturdy hook and loop (which is like Velcro® if you’re not familiar with that term).

If your little dog could use a more rugged version of the Comfort Vest Harnessrequest a custom order in my Etsy shop and we’ll get your order in!

Designing an Adventure Harness for camping and hiking with small dogs

Pipsqueak and Bosco go adventuring along the Mogollon Rim in Arizona

We recently bought our first camper and have been taking our dogs, Pipsqueak and Bosco, with us on camping trips. They’re still getting used to the camper, but they LOVE going on walks in the woods with us!

We used their everyday harnesses for these walks but the paths are so dusty that the harnesses (and dogs) got a lot of dirt and grim embedded in them. So while relaxing around the table during a game of Gin Rummy we brainstormed how I could make a harness more compatible with outdoorsy activities. After all, the original Comfort Vest Harness is meant for city walking!

prototype of the Adventure Harness with cargo pocket and clear vinyl ID pocket
An early prototype of a Comfort Vest Harness – Adventure Edition

The features of the Adventure Harness that I’m most excited about

  • durable, waterproof fabric that’s easy to wipe off so it feels cleaner and less grimy
  • a little cargo pocket to hold some emergency poop bags
  • a pocket to hold an ID card, where the dog’s name, our contact information, and our camping location details are written in case they get separated from us

When we were packing up to leave during the last trip, we actually someone drive up and ask if we had lost an old dog. Apparently they found one in the woods and were driving around trying to locate the owner. It was incredibly thoughtful of them to do this, and I hope they were able to connect the poor dog with his mom and dad!

This experience drove home the importance of having clear ID right with the dog because even if he or she is microchipped, getting the dog to a vet to read the chip is really inconvenient if you’re in a remote location. And even if the collar tag has the owner’s phone number, there isn’t always cell service when camping.

I’m excited to get a couple of prototypes made for our dogs to see how they hold up on our next adventure! And if all goes well, I’ll be offering them for custom orders for parents of little dogs who like to go adventuring as well.

Silent ID tag for dogs that startle easily or get their claws caught

A few months after we adopted our Dachshund, Bosco, I noticed he would get his short and squatty front paw caught in his collar. It turns out, one of his toenails was getting stuck in the loop for his ID tag. I couldn’t stand to watch him limp around like that! So I came up with a simple solution: an ID tag that slips onto the collar like a sleeve.

Bosco wearing his new silent snag-free tag
Our dog’s silent dog tag that slips onto his collar prevents his toenails from getting caught in the metal loop on a traditional ID tag

It worked so much better for him and he hasn’t gotten his paw stuck up by his neck again. Plus it’s really cute to easily see his name on his collar.

I’ve made a few for a little Morkie named Maks (who you may have seen in the previous blog post about summer harnesses) in fabrics to coordinate with his handcrafted Oxford Dogma gear:

denim collar with personalized ID tag and green and navy bow tie for Maks
This classic denim collar features contrast stitching, so I continued that look with the slip-on ID tag
Maks bow tie and collar with personalized ID tag
A Ralph Lauren-inspired collar with matching silent ID tag that slips onto the collar like a sleeve

The outside features your dog’s name stitched in nice heavy thread, and the inside is printed with your contact information and optional county ID number. It’s machine washable just like the collar, and it’s best to lay flat to dry.

Each tag is made custom for you based on your collar size, dog’s name, and contact details for $12 each. If you’d like to treat your fur baby to a quiet and comfortable ID tag, simply Request a Custom Order in my Etsy shop with what you’d like made.

6 cute summer harness ideas for your small dog

When the weather warms, you want to help your small dog stay cool, while being safely held in their harness. For summer, I choose fabrics that are lighter in weight and feature brighter and lighter colors. And instead of using a double layer of fabric for the main body of the harness like in the cooler weather versions, there’s just one layer of fabric making it breath easier.

I recently finished a batch of these custom summer harness — with matching bow ties! — for a lucky little Morkie named Maks, who models one below.

Maks in his Oxford Dogma summer harness and collar with matching silent ID tag

 

“I really like the blue check fabric with the red plaid. It’s cuter than cute! I love the way you trimmed the neck with it…it’s a cute touch. Again, can’t thank you enough!!! Will be ordering more soon.”
— Missy, dog mom to Maks

 

custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in red and blue plaid with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in orange and white gingham with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in blue plaid with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in blue and yellow plaid with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in blue and white seersucker with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in green and navy gingham with melon pink accent

If you’d like a custom made harness sized for your small dog (under 20 lbs), you can request a custom order in my Etsy shop. Matching bow ties are also available for $10 each. Happy summer!