Pet Portraits: A Positive Pandemic Trend

Things are looking up this week, with the Biden/Harris inauguration on Wednesday and the new administration’s vow to get the pandemic under control its top priority. Few humans alive today have been through anything like 2020: a year when pain and suffering were at their worst, yet we couldn’t gather physically with friends and family without risking a potentially fatal infection. If there’s a definition of hell on earth, that may be it.

And so, as the weeks and months wore on–delivering loss, sadness, and anxiety at every juncture–people took comfort in both new and familiar pets, who provided unconditional love, snuggles, and support at times when most other companions were available only via phone, text, or Zoom. I’ve always loved having animals in the family, but since last March, I’ve felt a more intense appreciation for our dog and cats, and have snapped more photos of them than ever before. So I wasn’t surprised to learn that professional and artistic pet portraits are currently enjoying newfound popularity.

Humans love decorating their homes and offices with pictures of loved ones, so why shouldn’t images of beloved pets be displayed too? Hence, when I discovered a company called West & Willow–which makes custom pet portraits–I was intrigued. I scrolled through the website and was quite impressed with both the ease of ordering, and the quality of the pictures. Instructions and specifics–as well as tips and answers to most questions you may have are here–but the bottom line is that if you send W&W a digital picture of your pet (or pets), the digital artists at the company will follow your instructions and create an adorable, framed picture for you.

Below are the snapshots of our pets I sent to West & Willow…

…and here’s the framed, customized, 12″x16″ portrait I received last week. The light at the top is the flash from my camera, and I chose not to have the animal names included in the portrait. The background color is dusty pink, and the frame is walnut. What’s your opinion? I like it a lot.

Now, if you’re seeking something more “fine art” in nature, you may want to consider commissioning a painter, sculptor, or other artist to create an original piece for you. My friend Kabir Shah is a painter who enjoys making different types of art, including animal portraits. I’ve been fortunate to get to know Kabir because he’s designed three gorgeous book covers for me, and I’ve become a huge fan of his work.

Here are a few examples of Kabir’s fine art animal portraits. All of these have either been commissioned or were done as gifts for family and friends.

If you’d like to check out more of Kabir’s animal portraits and his other work, there’s a great selection here on his website. And if you’re interested in talking to him about commissions, he can be contacted here.

Finally, both Kabir and West & Willow also do memorial portraits of cherished animals who’ve passed away.

Do you have dear pets who’ve helped you get through the pandemic? If so, please tell me about them in the comment section and/or post a photo.

Thanks so much for reading, and stay safe. I hope we can all get vaccinated soon, and return to something like normal existence in 2021.



About Mary Rowen

My three published novels, LEAVING THE BEACH (a 2016 IPPY Award winner), LIVING BY EAR, and IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY focus on women figuring out who they are and what they want from life. Music and musicians have a way of finding their way into the stories. I live in the Boston area with my family and pets.
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11 Responses to Pet Portraits: A Positive Pandemic Trend

  1. Hi Mary – I love your pet portrait! 🙂 Hope you are doing well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JT Twissel says:

    I think our cat is getting tired of us. He’d probably be more than happy if we were gone more but then he’s a strange critter! It will be good to have pets in the White House again. I think your fur babies look adorable. Brought a smile to my face!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary Rowen says:

    Thank you, Jan, and I’ll bet your cat’s not tired of you. On the other hand, cats are hard to figure. We used to have a cat who acted like he didn’t really enjoy our company, but he was even more standoffish after we went away and left him with a sitter. He became friendlier as he got older.


  4. Duke Miller says:

    Hi Mary,

    Really nice paintings and photos of cats and dog. Love all your animals, as I do my own. I kept reading, looking for their names. I can get a better feel with a name. Shows me into someone’s heart, a POV, a bond. “Return to something like normal…” That is such a thoughtful line for me. It seems the human race is always on that path, day in and day out, but we never get there, because normal is only good for one day, one moment, and then it is gone. It goes because we change or someone dies or someone does something either good or bad far, far away. Change and normality, they have a hard time with each other. Contradictions almost. Oh well, sorry. This is just the way I am. Thanks for sharing your great pets with the world. Love. Duke

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Rowen says:

      Thanks, Duke. You’re right; I should’ve included the animals’ names. And maybe given a little more info about them too. The dog is Spencer and he’s about nine years old. The animal shelter in MA gave him that name and he seemed to respond to it, so we kept it. He was about one when he came to live with us. (Before that he’d been in a shelter in SC, and was brought north by some animal advocates.) Over time, it became evident that he’d lived in a home at one point, because he knew how to sit, stay, wait, shake hands, etc. We often wonder how he ended up a stray in SC. But we’re so glad he lives with us now. The mostly black cat is Sherlock, named by my daughter, and he’s about seven years old. He and Spencer get along well, play together, and sometimes sleep together. Back in the pre-Trump days, I used to blog a lot more. Hard to believe I wrote three posts about Sherlock, but here they are, if you or anyone’s interested:
      Finally, the mostly white cat is Simon, and he’s about four years old. My daughter also named him, and he’s a unique creature. He was apparently born by C-section, and he and his tiny siblings were all up for adoption together. One day we went to the shelter to see if they had cats available, and the next day we went back and all the sibs had been adopted. Little Simon was alone and wailing, so we brought him home. Our other animals accepted him pretty quickly, but some of his behaviors are odd for a cat. Despite being well-fed, he’ll eat just about anything, and has ransacked our kitchen garbage can many times and left trash all over the floor. He will also climb into the sink at night and dig around in the drain for anything edible. He loves human attention.
      There! More info than I’d planned to share! Maybe it’s the freedom to think and breathe now that Trump’s gone.
      Re: change and normality. You’re absolutely right, Duke. Normality is a constantly-fleeting thing thanks to change. Maybe normal doesn’t exist at all. But at least we have a president with a good heart and love for democracy. I hope that’s enough right now.
      xo, Mary

      Liked by 1 person

      • Duke Miller says:

        Hi Mary,

        Let us sing the praise of our animals and of others. Love is organic and it is for all things living, dead, and inanimate. I can love a star, a piece of cloth, a memory. Gore Vidal once said, love is overrated. I used to think that, but now I don’t. Love is not linear, but appears in the past, present, and future and all at once. This I believe … and I know Simon, Spencer, and Sherlock have the best caretakers, the most loving of hands at their disposal, 24/7. I am beginning to understand people who say that god is love. I also think that god is language. I think that language probably predates reality. Language gave rise to reality. Most of my virtual friends really disagree with this idea, but someday, somewhere out there, someone will find out that this sort of logic is true. That’s my story and for the moment, I’m sticking to it. Thanks again and good luck to us all in these desperate days. Duke

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mary Rowen says:

    One thing I know: Love is not overrated. I also know love doesn’t change when people or animals die, because I don’t think they really die at all. They’re someplace nearby, part of our essential fabric, part of our reality, just not physical reality, as we define physical. The idea of God being love and language, and language giving rise to reality is interesting. I never thought of it that way before, but it makes sense, as much as anything does these days. Thank you, Duke. I like your story! And all your stories. And yes, good luck and lots of love. Things are going to get better now.


  6. Kabir Shah says:

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks for writing this blog and featuring me! I enjoyed reading the others posts you’ve linked as well. Is Sherlock still striking out at Spencer? They look very adorable together!

    We currently don’t have pets, so we’ve been watching a lot of Youtube videos on cats, owls, and otters!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Rowen says:

      Hi Kabir! Thanks for writing and thank you for allowing me to share your beautiful paintings. I’d hoped to add a few more, but am still learning to use the new WordPress block editor, which I find confusing. There are so many fascinating animal videos on YouTube; I’ve gone down numerous rabbit holes watching them. I find them comforting. As for Sherlock and Spencer, they are really good pals now. Actually all three animals get along with each other. We feel very lucky.


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