Rachel Perl shares a collection of colorful pet portraits that express the joy and personality of each animal. Learn more about this artist by visiting her website.
I am fascinated by the psychology of color, what it silently communicates, and how it makes people feel.
I studied studio art in college and was deeply influenced by my professor Wayne Thiebaud and his mastery of color. I was just beginning to understand that color theory is just the tip of the iceberg.
While living in upstate New York several years later, I picked up pet portrait painting as a way to ease the homesickness I felt for California, my home state.
I never considered using natural fur colors like browns and grays; they didn’t do the animals any justice, and they certainly didn’t bring me joy.
I painted in gouache, an opaque watercolor, using turquoises and tangerine, lemon yellows and hot pinks. My tag line was, “Capturing the colorful personality of your pet.”
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I still craved a deeper understanding of color psychology, so I went searching for more education. It took some digging, but I finally found the International Association of Color Consultants and Designers. Their accreditation program, focusing on the multi-disciplinary approach to color, gave me a much broader and deeper understanding of the value of color and its impact on people, especially in the built environment.
My mind was officially blown. I began exploring color for interiors and exteriors, and I pivoted to focus on building an architectural color consulting business. Fifteen years in, my color consulting business was thriving, but I missed the tactile nature of expressing myself with painting and vibrant colors.
Due to limited time and space, I gravitated towards soft chalk pastels as my new, dry painting medium. I could work on a piece for minutes or hours without the lengthy set-up and clean up time needed with tradition wet paints.
Once again, cats and dogs seemed the natural subject matter to imbue with colors. Our pets are all unique individuals—quirky, goofy, soulful, affectionate.
When I am able to translate those personality traits through color into a painting that truly represents someone’s beloved pet, I feel joy.
Artist Rachel Perls invites you to follow her on Instagram.
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