Dr. Temple Grandin writes in her book “Animals Make Us Human” that “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, Scottsdale artist Fiona Purdy captures the spirit of our most beloved pets in her stunningly perceptive fine art pet portraits.
A pet owner herself, Purdy understands completely the deep bond of love that exists between humans and the animals who share their lives. Many of Purdy’s clients said their pet portraits have become one of their most treasured paintings.
Purdy has painted pet portraits, professionally, for more than 25 years. Her fascination with animals began when she was a child living in Auckland, New Zealand.
Purdy moved to Scottsdale as an adult, and continued her work capturing the images of family pets on canvas. She specializes in rendering every detail with care, resulting in an uncanny ability to capture each creature’s personality and best-loved qualities in a timeless image.
Purdy’s realistic, acrylic-on-canvas style ranges from the very formal to informal, even whimsical. Her trademark colorful borders define space, creating an extra layer of interest by depicting individual elements of a particular animal’s personality and life with their family.
To meet a more affordable price point, Purdy developed a pet portrait style working with pen ink and acrylic on archival paper. The portraits are created with an acrylic wash applied by brush, which renders a loose, light feel to the image. She then captures her subject’s likeness and personality with details done in pen ink. This newly developed technique has proven to be a hit with her clients, providing an opportunity for them to invest in several portraits over the years or gift them to family and friends.
She typically works from photographs. She enjoys learning about the pet, getting to know their personality and hearing stories from their families. Depending on her client’s location, she may meet the animal before starting the portrait. Purdy has been known to use Skype to meet her subjects when clients live out of the area.
She enjoys working with each family to capture just the right mood for their pet portrait. Her clients are then able to develop with her that perfect and lasting memory. Purdy does not limit herself to dogs, cats and horses. She has been commissioned to paint a variety of animals, including birds and Highland cattle around the world.
Purdy is listed in the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog Artist’s Registry. She supports Foothills Animal Rescue and Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. Purdy is a juried member of the Sonoran Arts League and the Arizona Art Alliance. She participates in the Camelback Studio Tour each November: camelbackstudiotour.com.
Purdy has exhibited her work four times at the Mayo Clinic’s Scottsdale and Phoenix campuses as part of their Clinic Center for Humanities in Medicine outreach.
Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield on firstname.lastname@example.org