Some things to know about my “Paint a Portrait of Your Pet” Art Mini-Retreats

I have been doing Paint a Portrait of Your Pet! Art Mini-Retreats for a number of years now, and people seem to enjoy them a lot. I will keep doing them as long people want me to!

What is a “Paint a Portrait of Your Pet! Mini-Retreat”? Basically, it is an all day (6 hours) workshop where you learn to paint a portrait of your pet in my unique style while enjoying creativity in the relaxed environment of my art studio. No artistic experience is required – beginners and pros can work together, and both will leave with a painting that they can feel proud of.


If you are interested in attending one of my mini-retreats, here are some things to know ahead of time so you are prepared for the event:

    • Although I have BFA and MA degrees in Painting, no one really taught me techniques of how to paint. Sounds crazy, but it is true. My education focused heavily on conceptual aspects rather than technical skills, leaving me to explore painting methods independently. I basically taught myself how to paint by trying to find ways to create effects that I saw in master artworks. This led me to develop a unique style and set of techniques that are very different than what you will be taught in other painting workshops. At my mini-retreat, I’ll guide you, step by step, through my methods, which may seem counterintuitive to you.  I ask you to place some trust in me and the process that it will turn out well, even if it might not seem like it will at first.
    • gray striped cat portrait painting by BZTATMy style is semi-abstract, leaning heavily into simplified shapes and bright colors. (See examples here.) There is not a lot of detail, and colors diverge somewhat from naturalistic colors. I don’t use browns, blacks or grays. I use what I call “plausible color”. For instance, a gray cat might be depicted in shades of blue or purple that, upon observation, could feasibly be interpreted as gray. Similarly, a black dog might be rendered in light and dark shades of blue that, when viewed, could plausibly appear black.
    • After you have registered, I will request via email that you send me a photo of your pet. The best photos are ones that show a clear frontal view of the pet’s face. It is best if the eyes are not too dark to see and if shadows do not obstruct the view. It is best to take photos when the pet is Black labrador retriever dog portrait painting by BZTATcalm and not too focused on getting your attention. With dogs, it may help to have someone else hold a treat in the direction of where you want them to look. Feel free to send me as many photos as you want if you are uncertain about their clarity, and I will pick the one that I think will work the best. I will take your photo and sketch the image onto the canvas for you ahead of time so that you can use all of your time for painting.
    • I use a process of building up color by painting many layers of varied colors on top of each other, always leaving some trace of the underneath layers. The canvas is painted black to begin with, and then basic shapes are blocked in with contrasting colors. Where shapes meet, a thin line of the underneath color is left showing to create contrast and texture. The first layers of color are typically pink and blue, with other colors layered on top later. This layering of color can take some time. This is why the workshop is scheduled for 6 hours!Take your time and don’t feel the need to rush.
    • My painting process involves layering multiple colors on top of each other to gradually build up richness and depth, always ensuring some remnants of the underlying layers remain visible. The canvas is painted black to begin with, and then basic shapes are blocked in with contrasting colors. Where these shapes intersect, I deliberately leave a thin line of the underlying color exposed to enhance contrast and texture. The initial layers usually consist of pink and blue, with additional colors added later. Sometimes the color choices may seem odd, but, again, I ask you to trust the process. This meticulous layering process requires patience and time, which is why the workshop is scheduled for 6 hours! I encourage participants to take their time and immerse themselves in the process without feeling rushed.
    • After shapes are blocked in and multiple layers are added to refine colors, details such as whiskers, noses and eyes are detailed in. Finally, the portrait is complete!

BZTAT pet portrait painting process

Participants are welcome to bring food and snacks and beverages. We don’t take a formal break for lunch, but you can take breaks whenever you feel like it. If you wish to order food to be brought to you, that is fine too. I want you to be comfortable and have fun as you create.

Are you ready to register? You can sign up here.

Register now

I am looking forward to creating with you!

Life is an Adventure!