Nordal, a really fantastic Home Decor company in Denmark, is carrying my prints now. Here’s their blog post about our collaboration.
Nordal, a really fantastic Home Decor company in Denmark, is carrying my prints now. Here’s their blog post about our collaboration.
Ethology, the science of animal behaviour, has made tremendous strides in recent years, challenging us to reconsider what we know about cats and dogs. Every day, new evidence emerges about their abilities, emotions, and intelligence.
The exhibition takes visitors on a sensory and interactive journey. Games and simulations encourage participants to see the world through animal eyes in order to better understand and interpret animal behaviours.
Through their colours, content, and design, the three parts of the exhibition each offer different insights and visitor experiences:
Bunsen is never far from me as I go about my day fulfilling mail orders, painting portraits, working on my computer. And it’s only fitting that he pull his weight in the family to help out. He is particularly suited for the job of envelope licker, should I ever need help with that.
He doesn’t mind inspecting my prints and magnets before I send them, though I’m not sure if he yet knows what flaws he should be looking for. And he’s a talented paw model. He shows initiative, and has excellent interpersonal skills. I think he’s going to be great team member.
I’ll take it! In a recent Huffington Post article about hilarious white elephant gifts, my Lady Pom Pom was chosen among 18 other gems of gifts people might give at a Yankee swap for the entertainment of it.
My Old World Pet Portrait is in the company of some real winners. A favorite of mine is the lovely Nicholas Cage prayer candle.
The Chewbacca insulated drink sleeve is cute, but I’m thinking it may not stand up to washing.
I am saving the horse-head squirrel feeder as a future gift idea for my friend who has everything she could ever need already, but likes feeding the squirrels in her yard.
All in all, the Huffington Post has been very good to me. The article came out a few weeks before Christmas, and my already-busy on-line shop was deluged with orders.
Love this article that just came out today. It’s so well-written that even I’m extra-super inspired about my paintings today!
By Amy Krzaik
My cat, Oliver, believes himself to be the king of all he surveys (namely, the house and the front and back yards). And while the other pets beg to differ, he’s always quick to remind them of their subordinate positions. Although the smallest in size, Oliver is the oldest and craftiest and I believe his assessment of his stature to be valid. He considers himself feline royalty, and there’s a local artist who agrees with him.
Although she studied painting at Philadelphia College of Art, it took years for Lew’s formal training and her love of animals to coalesce.
“In my earlier working years, I didn’t see a pathway for making a living through art,” she says. “But almost 20 years ago, after leaving a particularly stressful management job, I decided to try to make a go of it.”
The internet, she says, has opened up new possibilities for artists to make a living doing what they love. And the public loves her back — Lew figures she’s painted more than a thousand portraits so far.
Inspired by the work of Thierry Poncelet, a European painting restorer who replaced human faces with animals on historical portraits, Lew’s first similar painting was a Great Dane done in Early American primitive style. “It’s a theme of artwork that made me happy from the start,” she says, “and it still does.”
A commissioned piece takes Lew about two weeks to complete, considering that part of the process is selecting an appropriate photo of the pet, and partnering with the client to find just the right historical portrait to use as a reference. A Lew original of your cat, dog, gerbil, bird, lizard or other beloved companion will set you back $450. If you need time to ponder such a purchase, or if you don’t have a pet but love the concept, Lew offers prints ($9.95 and up), canvas prints ($40), and magnets ($6) of past works in her Etsy shop.
As you might expect, Lew is an animal lover and she and her husband live with two cats, a dog, a flock of chickens and three hives of honeybees. Working from home, as she does, has also allowed Lew to foster shelter animals and serve a six-year stint chairing a local animal non-profit. She currently works with an organization that spays and neuters free-roaming cats. “This kind of work is important to me because I believe that we, as humans, are responsible for the welfare of companion animals,” she says. “It’s wonderful to see pets who are loved and well cared for, but there are others who need help.”
Her incredible skill and obvious love of animals shows in her work, and people are noticing. Target online is selling pillows with Lew’s images in its Beekman 1802 FarmHouse line. And soon, her portraits will be featured on woven fabric items in the European market, as well as on playing cards.
The more of Lew’s witty works there are in the world, the better, I say.
“My artwork is fun,” she says, “and the best part of it for me is that it makes people smile.”
Anyone who has the pleasure and privilege of sharing their lives with pets, has also experienced the sad, empty feeling when you lose them. Over the last five months, we lost our beloved Louise and Walter to old-age issues. For the first time in decades, we were dog-less. Our cats tried to fill the void, but it just wasn’t the same, and I so stared my search for a dog to welcome to the family. It’s super hard to find a Pug that needs to be rescued, but for some odd reason inside of me, it had to be a Pug. Having been devoted to animal rescue for so long I was determined to find one at a shelter or rescue.
This adorable fellow became available at the Springfield Humane Society in Vermont, and we went right away to meet him. I fell in love of course; who couldn’t love this adorable face.
On the two hour trip home from the shelter, we accumulated a page full of potential names, as is our custom. It had to be distinguished, yet at least slightly humorous. It had to have some meaning to us, or at least would lend itself to a story if we happened to be in a room full of animal lovers who’d had a little bit too much wine and wanted to hear it. The list included Buckminster Fuller, Mervin (my grandfather’s name), Charles (Kent’s middle name).
Near the end, our favorite name was Chester Ludlow after a sign we saw on the way home noting an exit where you could get to both of those Vermont towns. We almost went with that except when we googled the name, we found a Pug called “Chester Pug Ludlow” who had an active facebook page. We certainly didn’t want to start out our Pug’s life with us as a sort of imposter, so we went with our runner up name; Bogus Bunsen Bean. This was a childhood nickname of Kent’s brother. When they were kids, they’d heard that name but had never read it, or they would have known that it was a distortion of the names of three characters in a childrens’ story written by Roald Dahl. In Fantastic Mr Fox, three main characters were Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. We like the blooper aspect of it. Seems just right for a Pug.
I am a first year beekeeper. Actually, I have been told that I can’t claim the beekeeper title until I have hives that survive for a whole year. I’m doing the beekeeping thing a little different than most folks; my hives are in my barn loft. It seemed like a good idea for a bunch of reasons, and a beekeeper I highly respect wrote an article about my set up. Stay tuned for Spring, when we’ll see if I’m really a beekeeper.
Whether I’m painting Old World Portraits or giving my dog a belly rub, my life is largely about animals. That’s why I spend a good bit of time each week volunteering for organizations who help the ones who are down on their luck. I’ve been doing that for nearly twenty years. I currently volunteer for a small, all-volunteer organization that traps, neuters, and returns feral cats. We provide food for feral cat caretakers who can’t afford to buy it themselves, too. My volunteer work keeps it real and personal for me. I am regularly inspired by people who decide to be kind to animals, even ones they will never get affection from. And I am humbled and amazed by the lives of the feral cats I get to learn about. Today I wrote my monthly article for a local magazine called AnimalLife. Here it is.
The Long Life of Sly
Though Animal DREAMS is an organization with a mission to help feral cats, it’s rare to know the details of any particular feral cat’s whole life. This is one of those rare stories.
Before Animal DREAMS was even an official organization, the volunteers who later started the nonprofit did a feral cat Trap, Neuter, Return project in Great Barrington behind a busy place of business. The cats were fixed and returned to live in an old abandoned barn on a property whose owner was agreeable to letting the cats stay there. A dedicated volunteer began feeding the colony. By 2008, another volunteer, Barbara Crocker, started helping the original elderly volunteer, and eventually took over the every-day feeding of the cats. On a wintery day in 2009, Barbara went to feed the cats and found that the barn had collapsed and the cats had scattered. Over the course of three weeks, all of the seven cats were trapped by the Animal DREAMS founder and held until new cat shelters could be put in place. Sylvester, or “Sly”, one of those original cats, was the most wary and the last one to be caught. The mother cat of the colony was found to be very ill and euthanized, one cat was friendly enough to be adopted into a home, and five cats were returned.
By 2013, Barbara had built a cat shelter that could only be described as luxury accommodations. There were three cats remaining; Crybaby, Munchkin, and Sly, and after so many years, Barbara had been joined by two other volunteers, Sara and Doug. They relieved Barbara from her 7 day-a-week feeding schedule. Of the three cats, Sly was still the least likely to warm up to people. Eventually Crybaby died of natural causes, and then Munchkin, who was looking unwell, was euthanized due to end stage liver failure.
So began a new phase for Sly, the remaining cat of the colony. We can only guess that he was a little bit lonely living his solitary life, because he began to enjoy visits from his caretakers. Of the many cars that came and went from the business near their outdoor home, Sly immediately recognized the vehicles of his caretakers and would run to meet them. Doug would bring a brush, and Sly happily walked back and forth against it to be groomed. Barbara, Sara and Doug had regular meetings to assure that Sly was getting the best care, which included more frequent visits, vet care and additional protection during winter weather.
This brings us to the last phase of Sly’s life. Several months ago, the caretakers found out that the area where Sly lived his entire life was slated to become a parking lot. At the same time, it became clear that his health was declining; A visit to the vet revealed that he has lymphoma and a hyperthyroid condition. Barbara decided to bring him to her studio to live. There, he has lots of privacy and five cat beds, one of which is heated. Sly is not agreeable to thyroid-supportive food, or daily thyroid medication no matter how it is administered. The caretakers feel it best that he be allowed to eat his favorite food and continue to live life on his terms. He gets to see Barbara often, and his other caretakers visit him too. He does not enjoy overt attention from them, but purrs when they are near. He sleeps very soundly, in a way that Barbara imagines he might not have been able to do outside, where he had to be alert for danger. Sly is not expected to live much longer. But with the help of people, he has lived a good life for 19 years, and he will leave this world peacefully.
Barbara thinks of Sly as a legend. We think he is too. But there would be no story or legend to tell, had it not been for the long line of people who recognized the dignity of his life and who did the day-to-day business of looking out for his welfare.
P.S. I am proud to say that my dad, Doug, is one of the people who cared for this cat colony.
This shrine dedicated to the late Buster is not the only interesting feature in Chris Grabenstein’s apartment. And the New York Times thought his place interesting enough to showcase it in Easter Sunday’s “What I Love” feature in the Real Estate section. Chris and his wife were a lot of fun to work with creating this portrait as well as one of their dog, Fred.
Far far away, in a land called Australia, there lived a Guinea Pig named Wellington. He was well loved by his person, and when his life was over, his person was very sad.
The friends of his person decided to commission a portrait of Wellington dressed as Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, and to surprise the dearly departed Guinea Pig’s person with it.
Their friends planned a party. They wrapped the painting to look like a British flag.
They traveled from far and wide to come together, and they gave the gift to Wellington’s person, who was touched by the thoughtfulness of her friends, and glad to have a happy reminder of her pet.