My History with Dogs
While growing up as a kid, I could always count on my dogs to make me happy and be ready to play. My father often brought home a rescue pup, so my three brothers and I always had two dogs at any given time. They were a lot of work, but always worth it. Our dogs loved us unconditionally.
Frisker was our first family dog but, I was only an infant when she was alive. Nuts, a female, and Barabbas, a male, were among the rescues I remember we adopted. Both were with us from our elementary school days, and all the way into high school. It was when we lost them both that I knew I wanted to have a dog in my life, always.
My Dad passed when I was a junior in high school, and we moved around a lot after that. I graduated and began college, and even though I wasn’t able to care for a dog during those years, I missed their companionship.
A few years after working my way through college and graduate school, I met my wife Alix. We immediately hit it off, and I was soon introduced to her family who had a Lhasa Apso. Molly was a very soft, fluffy, and sassy ball of fur. I remember first meeting her and playing with her like she was a floor buffer or sander. She loved to play, and would get so wound up that she would tear through the massive historical home my in-laws lived in at the time.
Finally, the day came when Alix married me, and I took my first Chief Exhibitions Preparator job at The Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio. My job was very intense and demanding. I worked many late nights installing art exhibitions. During the few hours a day that we had together, Alix and I talked about rescuing a German Shepherd. But our apartment was not big enough for such a large and beautiful breed. With all the fun we’d had with Molly, Alix and I decided that a Lhasa would be a good fit.
Then one late night, I came home late after installing a show. I usually and took the stairs to our fifth floor apartment that overlooked the museum. I ran into Alix coming down the steps, and there she was, tucked to Alix’s chest with one hand-- our new puppy, Zia. She was the smallest dog I’ve ever seen in my life. I’d never had small breeds before, and I was not sure how to react, but once I saw her eyes and her little overbite, I was hooked. She was our first dog.
Shortly after we got Zia I took the position as Chief Preparator at the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio. I also took an adjunct position at the Columbus College of Art and Design to teach drawing and painting, and we settled in as we began our family.
Zia was there when our first son Noah was born. She always would sleep by his crib, and guarded him as a baby. She had radar ears like no other dog I’d ever had before, and would let you know if anything fishy was going on.
Once, while teaching in my figure drawing class at CCAD, I was demonstrating techniques in drawing hair-- how it moves, how it flows-- and I discussed Zia’s coat and how beautiful the light would glisten off of it when she was tanning herself in the cold winter of Ohio. I began doing studies of Zia’s coat when she was napping (and she could NAP). She had such a beautiful coat of hair and being a Lhasa she did not shed. Sometimes while she slept guarding Noah with her fifteen pounds of fury. I would do some quick sketches of her hair.
Alix’s father took some beautiful photos of Zia that we loved, but I never had the time to finish a drawing or a painting of her. So, for my example to show students in my class, I did a graphite portrait of her. I was able to capture her flowing hair and her overbite, but most importantly, I was able to capture her personality. I was really intrigued with this line of work, but needed to pull away and work on a show that highlighted my figurative and abstract portraits.
Zia lived to be 14. I held her in my arms when she took her last breath.I was pretty torn up. I didn’t think I would take it so hard but, I did. I sobbed like a baby for our Zia. I was glad that I got to hold her when she passed. It made me really appreciate and admire the portrait I’d done of her, because no photograph ever captured her soul like my drawing did.
Fast forward to the present. Now we have Gigi. We adopted an 8-week old female German Pointer – Hound Mix from the county shelter. She was a tall, lanky, black and white undernourished pup that my oldest son, Noah, fell in love with as soon as he saw her. He wouldn’t let her go or let anyone else hold her until we adopted her. We looked at other rescues, but she just really fit our speed and had the personality we were looking for.
Gigi has brought an energy to the family of constant happiness, and has created a unique bond with each family member. I think that is one of the greatest things about a dog’s personality-- that they’re always in a good mood. They’re happy to get you out for a walk, to play, or even to listen to your day-- good or bad. Just ask Alix. Gigi has help create a stronger family bond and has brought more positive energy to the house. My two boys Noah and Seth sometimes fight over who is getting to play or lay on her first. She has somewhat become my muse and our third child. I wanted to capture her personality and energy while she is still here. Some of my best painting experiences have happened while capturing her elegance and beauty.
I’ve been capturing dogs’ personalities in portraits for over ten years now, and I hope you enjoy these paintings as much as my family and clients have. After all, each dog is unique-- like us-- and they give unconditional love and happiness to us every day. Those memories need to be captured and celebrated. I am so grateful that I have the talents and skills to make that possible. I look at Zia every day and can see her chasing a squirrel, laying in the sun, and protecting our children. I would be honored to create that gift for you and your family.
My background as an artist.
I am a classically trained artist with a Master’s Degree in Painting. As the first ever recipient of two Ohio Governor's Awards in Fine Arts, I earned a scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design in 1986. I went on to receive my Master’s in Painting from the University of Cincinnati, and have been painting ever since. I’ve been awarded a wide range of commissions that reflect my classical drawing style that’s influenced by Rembrandt and Ingres.
My process reflects the techniques and standards of museum conservation and exhibition design. I have over ten years of museum experience - handling, conserving, and restoring works by Monet, Rembrandt, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others. I’ve studied and learned the techniques in needed to create artwork that will last for many generations to come. This is my passion and responsibility as an artist. We are here to leave a mark and a legacy that can be seen and experienced by multiple, future generations.
I started Parsonarts in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1993 during my final year in graduate school. I began a two year internship with a small antique business that specialized in furniture crafted before 1841. During that time I studied antique frame restoration, using the timeless practice of oil and water gilding. I began exhibiting work there and began my journey as an artist. During that time I met my wife Alix of 21 years now. When I’m not playing my drums, being a father, or teaching art you can find me in the studio working on a painting.
If you have any questions, or would like to talk about commissioning your own pet portrait, you can email or call my studio any time - Contact us!