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.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Follow the Leader

I've been working on this painting for about a week now. It is another one headed for the carriage show in Yarmouth, Maine in October of this year.

Much larger than life, the personalities really shine clearly on this one.

My father titled the piece - when he was viewing it the other day, he commented on how the one mule was very much the leader, and the other one a bit submissive. That led to my "ah-ha" moment - first it was "The Follower and the Leader," but now has been aptly renamed "Follow the Leader."

I am enjoying the pure geometry of the piece - the way the yokes encircle each face and set them agart. The abstracted patterns created by the mismatched bridles and harness. The light stroking each of their muzzles in very different, yet similar, fashion. And the clincher for me is the shift of the entire composition to the left; it's really a portrait of two mules, but because of that shift, I'm able to highlight/accentuate the near mules' interest, and create a more engaging painting.

I am working with cadmium red and yellow, and some pthalo blue. That's it so far.

Again, as with the Vanner portrait, this one too will be documented on my website. I've created a special page to chronicle just this painting, but other works in process are published, as well as paintings available for purchase.

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings

V is for Vanner

Gypsy Vanners appear almost mythical. With their flashy markings, solid bodies, and surreal manes and tails, the horses do not even seem real. Until they blow into your face, and transport you to another time.

That’s what I’m hoping to capture in this portrait.

He’s 28” tall by 24” wide, and when you step back from the portrait, appears to be right in front of you.

I modified the reference photo (found on, where artist members can post copyright free images for other members to use), but just a bit. I tucked his chin in more, so that he’s really on top of the bit, and mouthing it, as if he’s considering taking things into his own hands. I also twisted his head ever so slightly to the side, to create an upside down “V” composition between the wide blaze and the cascading mane.

The underpainting is done in cadmium red, ultramarine blue, and cadmium yellow only. This is the first pass.

The complete process on this horse painting will be documented in a new section on my website. You’ll also find links to information on commissioning your own painting and pet portraits.

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings