THE DOG WITH A BOW PHOTOGRAPHY

Skye the dog with a bow

Skye, shown above (& featured in my previous post), is the trusty and adorable sidekick of Paul Manning – the man behind the camera at The Dog With A Bow Photography. You can instantly tell by looking at his photos that not only is he skilled, but he is truly passionate about what he does too! So I wanted to share a bit more about him and his work here :)

“I can’t imagine what life would feel like without a dog to share it with so I want to capture their unique and quirky personalities, through fun, vibrant and active photos.” -Paul, The Dog With A Bow Photography

Based in Cochrane Alberta, he specializes in on-location dog photography (in the Cochrane, Calgary and Kananaskis Country areas) capturing each doggies’ personality,  indoors and outdoors, throughout all four seasons. Here are a few of my favourite examples:

example fall

example winter

example spring

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SKYE x 5

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This Spring I was hired by a local photographer – Paul Manning, of The Dog With A Bow Photography – to create five individual sketches of his dog Skye. The intention was to use the finished artwork in his promotional materials, such as on his website and business cards etc. And I was totally in!

Paul sent me his selection of Skye photos to be sketched, and indicated which he’d like in watercolour and which were to remain black and white for variety. For some of the poses I suggested we go with a custom rectangle set up, instead of the standard square, so that we could fit more of Skye proportionally on the paper. He was totally on board with that idea, so away I went and put pen (and watercolour) to paper:

skye sketch side by side

(example of Paul’s reference photo on the left, vs my sketch in progress on the right)

I put together a little slideshow that shows the five finished sketches as well as the original five photos, if you’d like to take a peek here:

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PETEY

petey 12x12

Earlier this month a custom 12″x12″ painted Pet Portrait of Petey the dog headed to its home in Victoria BC.

When my client initially got in touch and sent me photos of Petey, almost all of them showed him nestled into bedding/blankets, looking happy as a clam:

snuggly petey

So instead of going with my usual head shot style with a solid colour background for the portrait, we decided to include the bedding detail that showed Petey tucked right into the bed, snug as a bug in a rug. We also opted to keep the red collar detail in the painting to add a punch of colour to the piece, subtle yet eye catching.

I took a little video tour of the painting before I packaged it up, if you’d like to take a peek you can view it here:

A post shared by Robyn Millar (@artbyrobynmillar) on

(if you are having trouble viewing the video, it can also be seen directly on my Instagram account HERE)

I’m really excited with the finished painting, and quite enjoyed working on the bedding detail as well. I’m so happy we went with a photo/pose of Petey nestled into the bedding like that, as it really looks like he’s in his happy place :)

SET OF 6 PET PORTRAITS

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Earlier this month a custom set of 5 Pet Portrait paintings headed to their home in Ontario. A client had ordered a painting from me a few years ago of their rottweiler named Baldwin, and they wanted to add to their collection in the same canvas size & style. She sent me the photos of each pet to be painted, and left it to me to select the colours for each of the backgrounds. She mentioned that their living room was white, with accent colours from their wedding (royal purple, lavender/lilac, and daffodil yellow). So based on those parameters, and considering the blue from the painting they already had from me, I picked out complimentary colours for the new additions:

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Markers came in handy for this step to narrow down which colour direction to go in for the group as a whole, then the final shades were fine-tuned in the painting stage. In addition to picking out the colours, my client requested that I include name text on each of the paintings like we did with Baldwin’s piece:

juno name

So for the 5 new pieces we have Amber the grey cat (with the ‘amber’ orange background), Lance the orange cat (with the royal purple background), Juno the husky (with the green background), Aura the rottie (with the lavender/lilac background), and Gotham the black cat (with the yellow background and his little scull & crossbones collar included).

And finally, here is a photo of the five new paintings hung on the wall along with their original piece to create their custom set of 6 all together:

set of 6 on wall

I really love how they hung the paintings on the wall! Very unique, and I bet quite difficult to do as well. Thank you again J&A for having me paint your all your fur babies, this has been such a fun set :)

Ps – For closer up photos of each individual painting from this set, please visit in my Pet Portrait Portfolio page.

EXPLORING OIL PAINTS

oil swatches

About six months ago I tried oil paints for the very first time. For some reason they always seemed like an intimidating medium to me. Perhaps it’s partly because I’m a self-taught painter, and acrylic & watercolour seemed much more intuitive to me (just add water, and away you go!) with easy peasy clean up (just water again!) plus their super fast drying time. When I thought of oil paints and their rules, I mostly thought of the solvents or toxic mediums that traditionally came along with them, plus their very slow drying time. In the past couple of years I began to become more curious about oils though, but was still hesitant to invest in them without knowing if I would even like working with them (because like all art mediums, start up costs can be expensive). THEN last summer I saw a giveaway on Instagram for a set of Holbein Oil Paints from an art supply store in Eastern Canada called Studio Six, who were celebrating their 50th birthday with a series of art materials giveaways. So I thought to myself – why not! So I entered… and I won! I was sooo excited! How lucky, I get to try oil paints for free, and with a top quality beautiful brand at that – I was over the moon, and couldn’t wait to try them.

Here is a pic of the paint set when I first opened the special delivery:

(If you’re having trouble viewing this photo, it can also be viewed directly on Instagram HERE)

From the time I found out my name had been drawn, to the time the paints arrived in the mail about a week later, I did a lot of reading on how oil paints work (and asked some of my artist friends an annoying amount of oil related questions haha!). One of the biggest things that kept me away from oils for years was that they are traditionally used along with stinky/poisonous/flammable products. But what I found out, and what is seemingly not widespread information, is that it is totally possible to paint with oils completely solvent-free! That appealed to me in a big way, because not only are solvents flammable (which was a concern for me when painting at home), but they can also cause allergic reactions (from skin to respiratory problems, headaches, you name it). So it was very exciting to learn that it’s possible to paint without solvents or toxic mediums all together.

mini oil rose painting

I feel so lucky to have won this oil paint set. It saved me huge dollars in the start up costs of trying a new paint medium, as all I needed to buy was some oil brushes and a palette. One of the first things I like to do when I get new paint colours is to make swatches to see how the paint looks and acts (pictured at the top of this post, done on Arches Oil paper). Right out of the gate, I really liked the feel of oils!! After making the colour swatches I then wanted to try a mini painting of a wild rose (pictured above). So here we have my first oil painting, and I can’t wait to work with these paints more so :)

2017 HOLIDAY SEASON RECAP

Over the years it has become a little tradition on my blog to put together a post after Christmas featuring the artwork that was created during the holiday season. From October through December I go full tilt in the studio on painting & sketch orders, and as a result I tend to hit pause on my blog entries during that time. So I find this to be a fun way to feature what I’ve been up to over the past few months, and to get back into the swing of things blog wise :)

First up we have the 8 acrylic on canvas Pet Portrait paintings that headed out for Christmas 2017: xmas 2017 pet portraits

Larger/individual pix of each of these paintings can be viewed on my Pet Portrait Portfolio page if you’d like to take a peek.

Then for my Pets-a-Sketch pieces I completed approx 60 of them for the holidays this year, and I recently managed to condense (most of) them into collages here:

ornaments 2017

5x7 sketches 2017 xmas

This season there were a few Pets-a-Sketch pieces in the 8×10 format that headed out too:

(if you are having trouble viewing the above Instagram photos, you can also view them directly HERE)

In addition to my regular pet portraits, I received a few custom requests this year as well. But instead of making this the longest blog post in the history of time lol, I thought it might be nice to feature those in upcoming blog posts instead to give a little more info on each. So stay tuned for those!

Big thanks to everyone who trusted me with their sentimental orders and special gifts this holiday season, & throughout the year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and here’s to a great 2018 :)

END OF SUMMER JAUNT TO BC

plein air sketching

At the end of the summer this year I got to spend a few days with family in BC. While there I squeezed in some plein air painting (aka outdoor painting) with my mom, and my sister caught a pic of me sketching in action (above).

firewood sketch

There was just something about the colours of that firewood pile and the angle of the sun creating cool shadows on it that caught my eye – I couldn’t help but sketch it! I made the drawing first in pen, then went over it with watercolours mixed on the spot.

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SIT HAPPENS’ DOG APPRECIATION EVENT

“An event GONE TO THE DOGS!”

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On October 1st I will have a booth set up at Sit Happens’ Dog Appreciation Event, where their existing clients / prospective clients / as well as general public & dog enthusiasts are all invited to attend! This one-day-only event will feature information sessions, a whole marketplace area with various dog related vendors, AND there will even be a BBQ hosted by Global Pet Foods (…featuring BBQ food for people, not for doggies I presume lol).

Please note: It is my understanding that this will be Sit Happens’ only event for fall/winter 2017, as they WILL NOT be hosting a Canine Christmas this year like previous years.

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KOOPER & SHERMAN

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Last month Kooper & Sherman’s painting was given as a surprise gift from a group of friends to celebrate a co-worker’s retirement at the end of the 2016/2017 school year over in Wisconsin USA!

My client had contacted me earlier in the year to coordinate this special project on behalf of her & the group, and she sent me photos of two of the giftee’s Bernese doggies. Based on the photos, I suggested we go with a long rectangular canvas format so we could feature their smiling faces side by side. They quite liked that idea, so we went with a 16″ wide by 8″ high canvas. Here is a photo of the finished piece:

DSC_1271I really enjoyed painting this happy pair, and wanted to include a couple detail shots here for fun:

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Once the painting surprise was revealed, I was sent this lovely note along with a couple of photos from the gift opening (also with permission to share them here) :

8x16 gift opening

“We had a great time celebrating our friend’s retirement.  I have attached our honored guest with the art. While I have known dog lovers before, my friend likes dogs more than anyone I have ever known. This was truly the perfect gift!”
So excited to hear the gift was a big hit! Congrats to Kooper & Sherman’s momma on her retirement, and big thanks again to her lovely friends for having me paint this special memento for the occasion <3

MY GREETING CARDS AT REGAL CAT CAFE

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I am sooo excited to share that my Cat Art Cards (shown above) will be available at the much anticipated Regal Cat Cafe when they open on June 24th 2017 here in Calgary (303-10th Street NW)! What is a cat cafe you ask? It’s a combination of a cafe and retail space, with a separate area to meet adoptable kitties – aka – the place I will likely be found every spare moment I have lol! If you don’t know this about me yet, then the “cat’s out of the bag” now… I love cats! (surprise surprise) :D

Making a special appearance on the shelves at the cafe are these mini sketch cards I did up for them (shown below on the right) :

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A cool side note to mention: 10% of all sales from the cafe’s retail area go right to Meow Foundation! Which is the local cat-focused humane society that is connecting the kitties to the adoption area as well. I can’t wait to go check everything out this weekend! For more detailed information on the cafe, please visit www.RegalCatCafe.com.

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