Hello everyone, my name is Janea Case (follow me on Facebook!). First, I just want to thank you, Charlie, for inviting me to be your guest on Doodlewash. I am very grateful for the chance you have given me to share my story with everyone.
I grew up in the desert of Arizona but have recently moved to the beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia. This is where my desire and love for watercolors began. I have made many wonderful friends here in Georgia, but one friend in particular had set me on the course of becoming a pet portrait artist.
Ever since I was a little girl, I always had a love for art, and dreamt of being an artist. I mainly drew cartoon animals with colored pencils. To be honest, I always took a lazy approach to my art which usually resulted in sloppy and unfinished work. I never took the time to learn new techniques or to improve my skills. I was much too impatient to ever complete a drawing, and it was rare when I did.
As a teenager though, I wanted to start improving my drawing skills, but I thought I needed to take classes to accomplish this. I enrolled in a class at our local community college. However, this was a beginner class for painting with acrylics, something I had never done before. After the first day of class, I never wanted to paint in acrylics again. I decided painting was not for me. My passion was for pencils, NOT paint!
Like a loser, I quit the class. By the time I grew into my adult years, my passion for becoming an artist had died. Occasionally, I still drew cartoons, but being an artist was no longer my dream. Having grown up in a Christian home, I decided to go to Bible College. Due to financial hardship, I was not able to finish. Shortly after dropping out of school, I got married and then moved to Georgia two years later (2015).
It had been about ten years since I had any real passion for art, but while in Georgia, my passion was rekindled. I was reminded of a cartoon artist I had watched on YouTube, and I remembered how he colored in his cartoons with watercolor. Up until this point, I had never considered using watercolors; I decided to give it a try. And do you know what? My paintings looked HORRIBLE! I found that the watercolors were difficult to use.
My lazy habits started kicking in; I was so frustrated with the paint that I considered quitting again. However, I felt that I should give it one more try. I did, and to my surprise, my painting turned out halfway decent! I was so excited that I had to share it with my friends on Facebook. After painting a second piece, I started receiving requests from friends and family. I started painting postcards to send to them all.
After a few months of painting postcards, I made a new friend, Kristi, who changed the direction I was heading in with my art. Kristi is a professional dog trainer. After seeing my art, she commissioned me to paint a portrait of her dog, and encouraged me to consider doing pet portraits.
I didn’t care for the idea at first. I had such little confidence in my abilities as an artist, let alone the ability to sell my art. It was just too big of a step for me to take. But, after a few months, with the encouragement and support of my family and friends, I finally took that step. With Kristi’s help, I got connected to an endless supply of dog lovers.
I have been painting dog portraits for a short while now, and although it can be fun, dogs are not my favorite subjects to paint all the time. Regardless, deciding to paint pet portraits was the BEST decision I have ever made as an artist.
Having someone rely on me to paint their dog has taught me to slow down and take my time. I can now ensure that their portrait will be accurate and done well. It has also taught me to finish what I start, and it has forced me to increase my skill level as an artist. I only wish I had learned these lessons sooner.
The creative process of art has always been fun for me but challenging. With all the dog portraits I have done so far, I have run into two different kinds of clients: those who choose their own background, and those who give me creative license to choose for them. They both have their pros and cons. For those who have given me creative license, I always try to find a way to make their portrait represent their personality.
I gather clues from their Facebook photos to get ideas of what they might like. I look for reoccurring colors, patterns, tattoos, clothing, or pieces of art. I have noticed that some like animal prints, some like skulls, some like bright colors, and some like darker colors. After gathering all the information I need, I then have a good idea of what I should do to create their background. If I can’t find any information, I do something simple and plain that compliments the dog I am painting.
As an artist, I believe inspiration is an important aspect to have. It motivates us to create beautiful paintings as well as motivating us to grow in our skills. There are many different sources of inspiration. For me personally, there’s nothing more inspiring than watching other artists paint. I could spend hours on YouTube everyday just watching my favorite artists. They inspire me to try new things and to push my abilities beyond what I think I can do. I have learned so much from them and have grown so much in my skills.
The beauty of God’s creation also inspires me to paint. I’ve made a habit of keeping my camera with me so I don’t miss opportunities of capturing nature’s beauty. It could be anything from a colorful sunset to a ladybug sitting on a flower. Regardless of all that inspires me, I know I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without the loving support of my family and friends. To them, I am eternally grateful.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!