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How commissioning custom artwork of your pet keeps his memory alive

When our pets pass away, it can be a heartbreaking loss that affects us deeply. After all, our furry family members are an incredible source of comfort, unconditional love, and joy. The loss of them can feel similar to losing any other loved one, leaving behind an unimaginable ache in our hearts and an often all-encompassing sadness in our lives, but just because they aren’t with us physically doesn’t mean their spirits have to disappear entirely. 

Learning to navigate grief can be painful yet, as Cathy Cheshire explained in episode 15 of the One Last Network podcast, it’s essential for healing. As we move through the mourning process, remembering the many gifts our pets bring us while they are in our lives becomes even more important. 

Honoring these fond memories and incorporating them into our everyday lives encourages us to cherish these special creatures that cross our paths even when they’re no longer by our sides.

Art as an avenue for remembrance

In times of loss and grief, the heart can be left with an aching void to fill. Commissioning custom artwork of our beloved companions keeps their memories alive in a meaningful, tangible way and helps us celebrate all that was so special about them. Art provides a beautiful, deep-rooted, and personal avenue for remembering and honoring their powerful impacts on us.

Commissioning an artist to create a custom painting of pets that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge can enhance the grieving process in a comforting way. Immortalized in art, these pieces leave an enduring symbol of their presence by which you can lovingly commemorate them. Trying to make sense of grief can be eased by having something tangible like a painting that both celebrates and commemorates your beloved pet’s life. The personal touch created through a custom work of art can be extremely heartfelt and special when it captures the unique personality and special bond shared between pet and owner.

There are many different artists who can create beautiful pieces of art.

Finding an artist who shares your aesthetic preferences and understands your sentiment will help personalize and commemorate your pet in a unique way. Many artists specialize in pet memorial artwork, capturing your pet’s individual spirit in either physical pieces or digital drawings. Whether it’s a custom portrait made with watercolor paints, an engraved wood design of your pet’s face, or a realistic 3D figurine delicately sculpted to look exactly like the furry friend you know and love, there is an art form that can immortalize this memory forever. 

A talented, experienced artist can focus on the details that make your pet special and capture them in a purposeful, sincere way. One of those artists is Linzy Farmerie, an award-winning artist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who creates commissioned paintings for Pittsburgh’s most fur-crazed. 

Pittsburgh-based pet portrait artist Linzy Farmerie draws upon the inspiration of her cat Linus to create colorful and connected images of the city’s most cherished pets.

“I have always been involved in the arts: art camps, art clubs, all of it,” remembers Linzy. “I went to Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) High School then went on to earn my BFA in Art History and M.Ed. in Arts Education. I was lucky enough to study abroad in France for a while as well at the Institut D’Etudes Supérieures des Arts in Paris.”

While she also specializes in residential, commercial, and community-building murals; custom series; and even offers live paintings at galas and events, Linzy’s path to custom pet paintings drew upon her art education skills which she strengthened while working at one of the city’s Painting with a Twist locations that offered Paint Your Pet events.

“(It) seems backward, right?” she laughs. “We would host pet painting classes teaching other people how to paint pets! After that, I couldn’t stop!”

Commission with care

Commissioning artwork in memory of a Rainbow Bridge pet can be both an emotionally charged and poignant experience. Look for someone with whom you feel comfortable communicating your feelings, ideas, and expectations and who presents a style that matches the vision you have for the finished piece of art. 

Much of Linzy’s work is inspired heavily by emotion and music along with her black cat Linus. 

“He absolutely influences the approach I make with pet portraits. I one-hundred percent understand the love for a fur baby and how honoring them in a portrait can be an incredible keepsake.”

Be sure to ask them upfront about their terms and guidelines such as the timeline for when they plan to complete the work, about their refund policy in case you are not satisfied with the outcome, and if they offer professional drafting services or consulting related to the project. 

Additionally, review any examples of past commissions they have created for other customers so that you can gauge their skill level, and don’t be shy about asking for references.

Finally, make sure that whatever contract you decide upon is clarified between both parties before payment is made and commencement begins on the actual project itself.

A good artist should also be open and comfortable discussing any emotion-based issues related to losing your pet and creating a meaningful piece that reflects that loss with love and respect.

For Linzy, an artist who understands the emotion and sentiment behind such an undertaking, the most important thing to reflect in her pet paintings is personality, which she learns more about through a questionnaire that she sends to each of her clients.

The process of creating such a painting is time-consuming and involves personalized communication with the customer and consideration of a variety of factors like size, shape, lighting, color, background, pose, and expression. Communication is key to ensure the artist you hire captures all the special features that made your pet unique and accurately portrays any details important to you such as color, markings, or position. Most importantly, it ensures that an artist connects with the mission of bringing joy to those mourning a cherished family member.

“I want to know your pets’ names, about their favorite toys, (their) silly habits, why you love them,” she explains. “I want you to see your painting and think to yourself, ‘That is my baby!’”

The importance of quality photos in creating your work of art

When commissioning art of your pet, having a quality photograph is paramount. Such a photo should be clear and detailed enough to help the artist accurately capture specific characteristics, such as nose shape, body type, size and marking details, and the character in his eyes. A blurry or low-quality image makes it much more difficult for the artist to create a realistic portrait, therefore providing a clear and sharp photograph can ultimately result in the perfect visual rendition of your furry friend on canvas that you can cherish forever.

A well-taken photograph also can convey how your beautiful pet moves through space or expresses emotion, two elements that really add life and feeling to artwork. Such attention to detail requires artists to really invest in understanding their client’s relationship with the animal as well as scope out multiple photos of them together for inspiration and accuracy, so it’s up to you to start things off with a great reference image that adequately captures the essence of your four-legged companion. With the right photograph, you provide an artist with the perfect opportunity to create an accurate and timeless portrait of your treasured friend, something very valuable to Linzy.

“I want all the photos!” exclaims Linzy. “I require at least one ‘bust’ photo, which is one taken from the chest up, but clients are welcome to send more if their pet’s fur color is more accurate in another or perhaps they are ‘smiling’ in one.”

From there, Linzy is able to take multiple photos of your pet and combine several to create the final painting. She’s also able to bring together photos of separate pets and paint them on the same canvas.

Creating a custom pet painting often takes multiple sessions for an artist to captivate the personality and unique aura of an animal. Only after such measures are taken can they begin crafting the painting. It can take months to finish creating something that honors each furry companion’s perfect imperfections and captures every treasured memory artfully painted on canvas.

“It really depends on the style the client is looking for,” explains Linzy. “Pop art pieces take a little less time since there is less color matching. Black-and-white-only pieces usually take the longest.”

As an artist who wants her work to be dynamic, Linzy tends to lean into color or high contrast, adding that she loves layers and different textures, which she develops through a variety of mediums.

“I use a lot of acrylic paints, but I love to explore mixed media—adding spray paint, collages, gold leaf—I go crazy. My newest love is using joint compound and spackling to get deep texture and dimension.”

A gift of comfort and happiness

Losing a pet may feel emotionally taxing; however, it is important to remember that the grieving process is both necessary and valid. The act of commissioning personalized artwork can help you honor your pet’s life while also expressing some closure in the wake of his death. 

“Portraits keep precious memories alive. A hand-made and lovingly crafted painting truly elevates and honors the importance of this animal in your life,” says Linzy.

Coping with any loss can be a profound and heart-wrenching experience. Research suggests that engaging in creative activities such as art has been linked to improved emotional health and well-being, including decreased depression, improved relationships with others, decreased stress and anxiety levels, improved self-esteem, and higher life satisfaction overall. Fostering personal healing through art following the painful loss of a beloved pet may be just what one needs in order to facilitate the personal healing process, something Linzy has discovered firsthand.

“One of my very first portraits was a memorial piece,” shares Linzy. “The look on the owner’s face when I delivered it said it all; I was able to really capture the spirit of her beloved pug. Being able to bring that kind of healing through art is so wonderful.”

Celebrate your connection with a custom commission

As a calming reminder of his presence and impact on your life, having art of your pet displayed throughout your home can play an impactful part in your healing journey. By connecting with an artist who can capture the unparalleled personality of your precious pet, you’ll be left with a work of art that celebrates your furry friend and serves as a touching reminder of the wonderful years you’ve shared together. 

If you wish to commission a pet portrait of your own through Linzy, she can be reached via email through her website at

Jessica Wasik is the award-winning photographer of Bark & Gold Photography, focused on celebrating the joy and love between Pittsburgh pets and their people with natural, expressive images captured through small moments in time. Through timeless portraits and luxury products to fill your home and heart, she transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary to tell your story your way. To learn more, visit

1 thought on “How commissioning custom artwork of your pet keeps his memory alive”

  1. Thank you, Linzy, for the great insight into how important custom commissions of our pets can be in helping with the grieving process surrounding pet loss and as a unique way to honor our special connections to them.

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