pet portraits and animal paintings

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I have a ridiculously great life, playing with paint in the studio and flexing my time around the needs of my family. Took me a while to work out the balance, but I figured it all out and am loving every second. You can see my artwork at and I'm on twitter (ksantini) and facebook (Kimberly Santini), and the FB studio is Kimberly Kelly Santini.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Fergie - Portrait of a Red Head, err, Vizsla

I am nearing completion on a commission that pretty much stands on its own, at least in my book.

At 36”x36”, “Fergie” takes the cake. Or rather, she could quite easily if she were truly in front of you. The entire cake and every single crumb to boot.

This commission has been a long one – ongoing since October of last year. We had the concept right off the bat – a larger than life portrait of this vizsla’s head, staring you right on. Modelled after another one I had done of a weimereiner, very much inspired by William Wegman photographs, Fergie’s painting was going to reach for the next level.

I wanted a palette that had the same strength as the overall size, so chose a complimentary color scheme of orange and blue. If her size didn’t bowl the viewer over, the intensity of color would. At least, that was my intent.

It took a bit to collect the right reference materials, since there were several states between me and the client, and I couldn’t just hop on over to take pictures as needed. I appreciate her utmost patience with me as I tried to explain what sort of pose and lighting and perspective I was looking for.

And the actual painting process took longer than I had anticipated, too. Fergie demanded lots of quiet studying time – time where I stood back from the painting and really examined every inch, deciding where the next brushstroke was to go.

But I’m very pleased with the results.

And I’ve learned a couple things in the process, too.

I don’t have to rush through a piece. It’s ok to “process the process” – I saw things I might not have consciously recognized by slowing down.

And again, a controlled palette can make a world of difference with color harmony. Despite the range of colors in this painting, I used maybe 5 or 6 different pots of paint.

Now to add the finishing touches and my signature, and this dog portrait will be done, and a digital image will go off to the client for her approval.

View current works in process.
View the finished painting of Fergie.
View my complete portfolio.

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I've been invited to participate in a show this fall at the Skyline Farm Carriage Museum, and have begun preparing a body of work specifically for that show.

I have a series of reference photos of a pair of hitched mules, full of personality, and all sorts of patterning created by the lines of the harness. I want to paint them big - at least life size - but never having painted mules or harness before, I need to do some smaller studies.

This is one of them, a 6x8 canvasboard. Very much still a sketch, even though it's done in color. It's been painted over multiple times - same subject, just alterations in the color temperature and the background.

I like the simplicity of this version, but am wondering if I am doing more harm than good in omitting his partner's shadow on the right.

At this stage I'm evaluating this "thumbnail" on several criteria:

1. Is there enough personality to warrant increasing the scale?
2. Is the image balanced with interesting patterns that properly amplify the focal point? How can I redraw this to make it better?
3. Is the light and color working?

What sorts of changes can I make to this little piece that will improve it's success each of the three areas above?

That's what I'll be thinking about, as this painting dries on my desk here, and I continue ruffling through other images.

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings

Monday, June 05, 2006

New Beginnings

I simply couldn't get enough of my first blog, so I opted to start a second!

Actually, once I got to thinking (always a dangerous venture!), I realized that a blog dedicated to the progress of specific paintings would be helpful. Useful to me, so that I can return later and see how I solved certain problems, and useful to any potential clients/artists, so that they can get an understanding of the evolution of a piece.

As of today, works in process are still published on my website. The wet paint page on my site will only contain current paintings on the easel. This blog will hold a small history of paintings and their evolution.

I will create a posting, or new thread, for each pet portrait. I will chronicle my thoughts and ideas throughout the portrait's process, and supplement that with photos of the painting, the reference materials, or any additional research or sketching that goes on.

I know I'll learn from this. It's a fringe benefit if you also enjoy reading them. As always, thanks for your time.

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings