Why Pet Portraits?

I began painting pets in 2014 based off a dare. It’s true.
— Nathan Rhoads, Artist

Hello! My name is Nathan Rhoads and I paint furry family members all over the globe. Often, people have two responses when I tell them I paint pets for a living: Surprise and skepticism. I often get asked ‘why’ and I will answer that question shortly; but first, I would like to layout the ‘how’ and provide some backstory.

I began painting pets in 2014 based off a dare. It’s true. I like a good challenge, and I like to try things I’ve never done before. So, I dared myself. I had never before painted a pet. I grew up with a knack for art - and it has been my passion since I was a little kid. I have a degree in art, so theoretically, I could possibly do it, but never had. How much can you know about yourself if you are unwilling to try different things? Was I willing to step up to the plate and face new challenges head-on?

Yes, I accepted the challenge and the first painting I created was of my own rescued dog, Steve. Steve is Mr. Personality, fully manifested. He has spunk, he has gobs of energy. He does not abide by the ‘stranger danger’ rule. All strangers (people and dogs) are just friends he hasn’t met yet. When I take him to the dog park, he is the social butterfly. With his small stature, he tenaciously puts puppies in their place regardless of their size. At home, he’s right by my side, he follows me everywhere and cuddles with me so hard.

My first pet portrait, Steve.

My first pet portrait, Steve.

I knew Steve would be an excellent challenge for my first pet portrait because he has this amazing under-bite. Steve is an Italian greyhound / chihuahua mix. He has long legs, runs like a greyhound, has pointy chihuahua ears, and a slender, long greyhound head. He weighs in at about 13 lbs. and wears his heart on his sleeve with his big, brown eyes.

My goal in tackling this challenge was two-fold. First, to capture Steve’s likeness. I had drawn animals before, but never a pet whom I knew so well. Secondly, to also capture his personality, spirit or charisma.

For this seed of an idea to ever turn into a business, I knew I had to nail those two qualities: capturing his likeness and personality in paint. The end result? A dead ringer. It looked exactly like him and seemed to contain all of his spunk!

With a successful conclusion to the self imposed dare, I found my ‘why’.

Why pet portraits? With each commissioned pet portrait painted, and my ability to capture each animal’s likeness and spirit in paint, I am able to bring joy to pet owners everywhere. To honor each furry family member in paint. A memento that will be treasured for years and years. Often, clients come to me who have experienced great loss in the passing of their beloved pet. The paintings I create for those who have lost so much deliver untold comfort. In those specific circumstances, clients often cry when seeing the finished painting for the first time.

If I can bring joy and comfort, honor and fond memories through what I create with my hands using only paint and brushes, I consider it a job well done. That’s my why.