Diana Hartman loves cats, and she paints the most amazing custom pet portraits. After receiving one of Misha, we knew we had to tell everyone!
I have long thought about getting pet portraits of my cats. Sure, I imagined they would be photographs; I never considered paintings. The idea of having my cat’s portrait painted seemed like an expensive one until I received a surprise gift from Chewy in the mail.
Misha’s Purr-fect Portrait
Isn’t it gorgeous? Misha’s likeness was perfectly captured. Diana seemed to know that purple was Misha’s color, and the background makes her beautiful face even prettier. I’m pleased to say that Diana agreed to an interview about her artwork (which includes more than just pet portraits – she’s quite talented!).
Hello, Diana! Thanks for stopping by The Meow Place to talk about your artwork. When did you start painting custom pet portraits?
I have always enjoyed commission work, which is how pet portraits started for me. There is an aspect of collaboration when it comes to picking out the photo and discussing the layout. When I work with a customer, we also determine whether to do a very realistic portrait, or whether to incorporate a goofy twist. Some time ago, I did a bunch of acrobat kitties, which was definitely my most elaborate pet portrait.
I know my first [custom] pet portrait, was naturally my own cat. Besides wanting to paint the most adorable cat I know, it also gave me an example of my work to share. From there, I did some of my friend’s pets, so I had more examples to promote what I do.
How long have you been an artist? Did you start at an early age? Have you always been interested in art?
I’ve been sketching, painting and crafting for as long as I can remember. It’s pretty much been an obsession since I could wield a pencil. I have always found it fulfilling, relaxing and an escape from the everyday. My other obsession was animals, so probably 90% of what I doodled came from the animal kingdom.
Growing up, I loved the illustrations in children’s books. The way drawings could tell a story, or express emotions and character, fascinated and inspired me to become an artist.
We adore the portrait that you painted of Misha. How long does it usually take you to complete one of these works of art?
The time it takes to complete a pet portrait varies. I think tabby cats and pugs actually take the longest. There is more symmetry and detail involved in the tabby cat’s stripes, or a pug’s wrinkles. I have done a couple lizards too, and getting all their scales right certainly takes time. I have also been challenged with certain pet’s coats. It will be an interesting pattern, color, or texture that will prove a challenge to create on canvas.
When I approach a portrait, it usually takes 3, or more stages. First the background color, which has to dry, then I blot out the pet’s shape and figure. Once that dries, I go back in to flesh out the details, which can take a couple rounds. So in terms of actual painting time, it ranges from 30 minutes to an hour to do a 6×6 canvas.
How did your relationship with Chewy come about? Did they contact you, or vice versa?
Besides painting my own art and doing art shows, I would also hunt around for creative gigs. In my search, I found and applied to the Artist role at Chewy. With my love of painting and animals, it seemed like a perfect fit for me and luckily, they thought so too!
The creative team at Chewy is a delight to work with, and their mission to surprise customers with portraits of their pets is fantastic. It is very rewarding work, from looking at cute pets all day to doing a job that brings surprise and cheer to people.
Do you have any pets of your own?
My cat’s name is Half – she is a grey tabby, who is a rescue. She is 11 years old, but still full of spunk and loves to play and cuddle. Her name is due to her tail, because she only has half a tail. Vets have had many theories as to why, but most likely an accident when she was young. It definitely effects her balance, but she still explores anything she can reach with a gentle hop. Sometimes I think she may be half bunny.
Half also insists on sitting on my lap while I paint, like a perfect studio cat. On rare occasions, I look down and see a drop of paint landed on her fur, which she doesn’t even notice. I wipe the paint off her if that happens, of course. I often wonder if she gets jealous that I spend so much time painting other cats and dogs, but she gets a lot of treats, attention and play time to make up for any hurt feelings!
Where are some places that others can find your art?
All images and art (with the exception of the photo of Misha’s portrait, which belongs to me) belong to Diana Hartman. We would again like to extend our sincere thanks to Diana for taking the time to answer our interview questions.
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