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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Our Perfect Companions

Dr. Temple Grandin stated in her book; Animals Make Us Human, "All animals and people have the same core emotion systems in the brain; they feel fear as well as a sense of well-being." In this awareness artist, Fiona Purdy captures the spirit of our most beloved pets in her stunningly perceptive fine art pet portraits. Fiona, a pet owner herself, shares that she completely understands the deep bond of love between humans and the animals that share their lives. "Our pets are more than just animals; they are beloved members of our families. A portrait keeps them close to us and is a beautiful reminder of how much their presence enriches our lives." Many of Fiona's clients report that pet portraits have become one of their collections' most precious and deeply treasured paintings.

Fiona has been painting pet portraits for over 30 years; during her childhood, she accumulated knowledge and sketching experience by drawing and painting animals around the family home in Auckland, New Zealand. As an adult, Fiona moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where she continued her work capturing images of family pets on canvas. Her style is realistic yet contemporary. Fiona specializes in rendering every detail; she has the uncanny ability to capture each creature's personality and best-loved qualities in a timeless image. Her style ranges from very formal to informal, often even whimsical, as illustrated in the trademark colorful borders that define space and add an extra layer of interest by depicting individual elements of the animal’s personality and life with their family.

The pet portraits are created in one of two ways, acrylic on canvas or acrylic and ink on fine art watercolor paper. Fiona explains, "The canvas paintings are labors of love. They require countless hours painting layer upon layer to build the depth required for a realistic, seemingly alive portrait." On the other hand, "The portraits done on watercolor paper are not as detailed and have a lighter feeling and vibe. However, the image still captures the likeness and personality of the animal." Fiona states, "Adding the acrylic and ink on fine art watercolor paper option allows me to offer a lower price than the full acrylic on canvas, which is attractive to many of my clients." Whether on canvas or watercolor paper, both techniques are popular for gifts to family and friends.

"My favorite part of the process is working collaboratively with each family to capture the mood they wish to create for their pet portrait. This way, my clients can develop a perfect and lasting memory with me."

Fiona typically works from photographs clients send from their pets' photo collections. She also enjoys meeting the pet, getting to know their personality, and hearing stories from their families. Yet, with technological advancements, her person-to-pet meetings can easily be turned into Skype or Zoom meetings, allowing her to paint pets from anywhere. Many pet parents choose to have a pet memorial portrait done after a pet's passing; in this case, emailing photo collections becomes an absolute necessity for capturing the pet's unique personality in a beloved memorable portrait. Fiona states, "My favorite part of the process is working collaboratively with each family to capture the mood they wish to create for their pet portrait. This way, my clients can develop a perfect and lasting memory with me." Fiona doesn't limit herself to dogs, cats, and horses. She also accepts commissions to paint lizards, birds, fish, and even highland cows.

Fiona is an American Kennel Club's Museum of the Dog Artist's Registry member. She supports Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Equine Voices Rescue & Sanctuary in Green Valley, Arizona. Fiona is a juried member of the Sonoran Arts League and the Arizona Art Alliance. She exhibits in two shows yearly, The Camelback Art Studio Tour in South Scottsdale and the Shemer Art Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Artist Fiona Purdy comments, "I tell people I have one of the best jobs in the world; not only do I have the opportunity to paint the animal subjects I love, but I also get to work with the nicest people in the world."


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