Bombay | A Digital Painting

A recipient of one of my paintings contacted me asking if I could paint her friend’s puppy as a gift. She had a few photos and wasn’t sure which would be the best one to paint. This is totally normal – I rarely have clients who know exactly what image they want painted! I asked her to send me her favorites and I would help her whittle them down. We ended up picking one and during subsequent conversations, I discovered that this image would hang in her friend’s lake house. I decided to emphasize the lake background that was in one of the other images as well as give the pup a more relaxed open-mouthed smile since this was a happy place.

I painted the image, got approval from the client that it was acceptable (well, technically the response was, “THAT LOOKS AMAZING!!!! She is going to DIE!” and while I don’t particularly want my painting recipients to pass away, I thought that was a positive response.), and sent the file to my vendor to be professionally printed on high quality canvas and stretched.

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact Me

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

Let’s Talk About Filters

SOOC image

I still get comments about how “Oh, I could do that with a filter” and “that’s not art” so I decided to do an experiment and compare two filters – one free and readily available, one higher end that’s used frequently in the artist community – with my own painting. The image to the right is the one that I received to paint.

This is Angel who recently passed away; her owners wanted a portrait of her. The painting took approximately three hours to complete and will be printed on fine art paper and framed. Zero filters were used in the completion of the image – every stroke is done by hand using a tablet and stylus.

There is a time and place for filters and I’ve done some great work with them in the past. But rest assured that every piece of art you receive from me is absolutely unique and cannot be replicated by any filter.

Image painted with the free “one button click” filter.

Image painted with the higher end filter.

Image painted digitally by hand.

The completed painting.

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact Me

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

Commemorative Paintings

What is a Commemorative Painting?

As much as our pets mean to us, it’s frequently not until they’ve left us that we realize we don’t have a great image to provide us with comfort. Half of the images aren’t even printed, just languishing on our cell phones. While I would love to provide you with a photographic session, due to distance or time, that’s not always possible. The solution is a commemorative painting.

Paintings can provide joy and consolation to those enduring the loss of a loved one, reminding them of good times, smiles, and love.

I can work from reference images, even the ones on your cell phone, to create a painting celebrating your pet that you will cherish and display proudly in your home. I’m also frequently approached by those who want to give a custom painting to a friend or family member. While most of my subjects are pets, I’ve also been commissioned to paint people and even homes.

I paint digitally, on a computer, using digital brushes and paints. Some of the benefits of a digital painting is that they can be printed to any size and on any surface and I can make minor changes even after you see your proof. You can also have multiple copies if you’d like. Once painted, the file is provided to a print vendor that works exclusively with photographers and artists to create archival products. If desired, I can also have the image professionally matted and framed so that it’s ready to hang upon arrival.

My goal is to provide you with a finished piece of wall art that you absolutely love. I am an internationally award-winning digital artist and was recently named the 2018 Artist of the Year by the Professional Photographers of Ohio. I am constantly working on improving my skills and finding new and better ways to provide my clients with my best possible work.

For more information, go to pouka.com/paintings or view my portfolio at pouka.com/portfolio.  And I’m always happy to answer your questions if you email me at info@pouka.com!

People always say to take a lot of pictures and capture memories. That if you don’t you might regret not having moments to look back on. These words fell true when my sweet Hanna became ill and I realized I didn’t have very many “decent” photos of her.  I contacted Danica to see if she could work with any of the photos I had.  Thanks to her amazing talents with digital painting, Danica was able to salvage a mediocre photo of my sweet girl and turn it into a gorgeous piece of art that I will cherish for many years.

Marcie

Painesville, OH

I was so very impressed and happy with Danica’s work on the picture of my English Setter Bucky that I got my mom one of her Golden Retriever for Mothers Day! So much talent! You will not be disappointed! Thank you Danica for making my boy Bucky shine bright!!

Erin

Michigan

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact Me

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

Shazier | Model Spotlight

Full Name/Nicknames: Shazier
Breed: Labrador Retriever/Australian Cattle Dog mix
Age: 9 weeks
Gender: Male
Favorite Activities: Peeing in the house, chewing on stuff, and playing tug

Shazier is the newest member of my extended family. Named after former Buckeye football player and current Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, he was my sister’s Christmas present. After recently losing her senior heart-dog, her youngest daughter put out feelers for a new puppy and coincidentally found a litter of Lab mixes just down the street! Shazier joined the family shortly before the holiday and settled right on in! He’s a spunky solid little bundle of fuzz and he’s learning the ropes very quickly. Smart, active, and pretty responsive, he was a bit of a challenge in the studio!!

We kept the energy level low and calm and let him discover the space for himself. He’s very food motivated so we managed to get him on the backdrop for a few shots. Thankfully I have fast firing strobes so he didn’t have to sit still too long!!

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact Me

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

Fairytails

PRESS RELEASE | Grove City, OH – Photographer Danica Barreau has gone to the dogs. To be fair, she’s a professional pet photographer so that’s nothing surprising. Mrs. Barreau is a certified professional photographer working out of a small home studio in central Ohio who recently started working on a new personal project called “Fairytails”. “I love old fairytales and I wanted to incorporate some of my dog models into the stories,” said the artist. It all started when she was coming up with ideas for a children’s book and took some photographs of her deaf English Setter wearing a spectacular crown. The image, named “My Fairy Dogmother”, was a hit with her fan following and won multiple awards. It’s also been named one of the top ten pet portraits in this year’s Grand Imaging Awards hosted by the Professional Photographers of America.

Mrs. Barreau’s latest image is an homage to “The Princess and the Pea” featuring a tower of the eco-friendly Molly Mutt dog beds. She quickly explained that the dog was never in any danger of falling. The image is a composite; the dog was photographed lying on the top two beds and then composited onto a second image with the remaining beds. Mrs. Barreau’s digital artistry skills have earned her several medals in International Print Competition and she doesn’t hesitate to tweak the images to match her imagination.

 

Keep an eye out for the completed project coming next spring. In the meantime, you can find Mrs. Barreau’s book about English Setters, “Setterly Yours: A Photographic Introduction to The English Setter” on Amazon and at Barnes and Nobles. For more information about her photography and artwork, visit pouka.com.

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact Me

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

SHARING IS CARING!

My Fairy Dogmother

“My Fairy Dogmother” is my second International Photographic Competition Loan image . It is another “case filler”, an image not originally intended for competition and stuck into a case to fill it out.

I was shooting an image for a children’s book I’m working on called “Finch and The Spot Fairy”. I was trying out various crowns to see how they would photograph and Sparrow was modeling with her typical bored expression. “Yeah, fine. But there had better be treats later.”

This was the final image:

One of the test images turned out pretty well – I loved the way the light fell on her so I tacked on some wings and posted her on my business page.

The post. Blew. Up. The image reached over 48 THOUSAND people and was shared over 2,000 times. That’s… uh… a bit more than my usual reach. So when I was looking for an image to pad out my case for the spring State Print Competition, I figured I would go with my FB followers’ gut and add this one. I took off the wings (no added elements for a portrait submission) and submitted “My Fairy Dogmother.”  It scored an 82 with no challenge. That seemed about right to me so I prepared to submit it to our Northeast District competition. I made a few tweaks, adding a bit of light, taking down some highlights on the crown, toning down the background texture, and fixing some pearls that were damaged.

At District judging “My Fairy Dogmother” scored an 88 and then was challenged. 88 was already the highest score I’d ever received in competition. Imagine my surprise when one of the judges insisted that this image deserved a 100. A ONE HUNDRED. I started crying. Seriously. Ugly sobbing tears. The judges rescored and I ended up with a 97; what we call an auto-loan. Images with 95 and above don’t get rejudged at International. They go straight through. This was officially an IPC Loan Image. I was on cloud nine for a week afterward and I still get a little verklempt thinking about it.

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact Me

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

SHARING IS CARING!

Silver Screen Kitty

Today I wanted to give you a glimpse of the editing behind “Silver Screen Kitty”, one of two of my Loan images in the 2017 International Photographic Competition.

Aside from some work in shelters, I haven’t had much luck photographing cats and certainly never in studio. I have a cat at home named “Boo”, aptly so because he’s pretty skittish and would never consent to a studio shoot. Imagine my surprise when I walked in one afternoon and found Boo drowsing in one of the prop chairs right in front of a left-over lighting set-up from an earlier shoot. I quietly went around turning all the strobes and triggers back on and grabbed the camera. I got one shot – this one, before he took off.

It’s nothing spectacular – that fur blanket is all bunched up around him but I was pleased to have finally caught a decent image of my skittish fifteen year old. I played around with it a bit and decided that it had more impact in black and white. I changed the crop, tweaked a few adjustment layers, and voila:

I needed another portrait to round out my case for our state level print competition so I decided to put this one. We call these “case fillers”. They’re not images we shoot for competition and they’re generally not images we expect to score particularly well. But when you’re paying to compete with four images and you only have three… you find another to get your money’s worth! I ran it by my mentor and she made a few suggestions – take out part of the chair arm and even out the background exposure. In our Spring State Print Competition, I submitted “Silver Screen Kitty”.

It scored an 82, was challenged, and re-scored at 84! This was a pleasant surprise and my case filler just found a permanent spot in my portrait case!

Here is the recorded challenge from the State competition:

 

I took the judges feedback to heart and went back in and made a few edits. I brought down the brightness on the right side of the image, cloned out the odd bump in the blanket in front of the cat, and toned down the texture of the blanket so it didn’t compete with the cat. It was also suggested that I tighten up the crop, so I played a bit with the warp tool in PS and managed to crop off the straight piece of the chair arm and shortened the body of the cat. Yes, that’s a fair amount of editing and sure, it would be great to get images perfect in camera but, especially with pets, sometimes you have to fudge a bit. This was the final image that I submitted to District Print Competition:

The image scored an 83, was challenged, and finished with an 87! Remember our print competition scoring goes like this:

Exceptional 100-95
Superior 94-90
Excellent 89-85
Deserving of a Merit 84-80
Above Average 79-75
Average 74-70
Below Exhibition Standards 69-65

An image that scores 85 through 94 is automatically sealed through the first round of judging at International Photographic Competition so that it proceeds directly to Loan judging. So Silver Screen Kitty was in the running for a Loan!

This image was judged as a Loan Image during International judging and will be joining the prestigious PPA Loan Collection!

 

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact Me

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

SHARING IS CARING!

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Here’s how I created my 2017 International Photographic Competition Merit print – “A Whiter Shade of Pale”.

One of PPA’s print competition rules is that you can only use the same subject once. That means that my favorite in-house models, Sparrow and Finch, can only have one portrait each. So this year I drafted some of the rest of our pack – Piper, Apollo, and even the cat got their portraits done.

I was not optimistic about asking our six year old Akbash, Piper, to pose for me in studio. She’s never done any modeling work for me and she’s extremely sensitive to any sort of negative feedback. Even “stay” can make her nervous. At 96lbs and an impressive 6 foot reach, she’s not a dog you can man-handle. Even getting our working guard dog to leave her post and lounge around on an ottoman was going to be a challenge.

Boy, did she prove me wrong. Piper was a PRO. She sauntered into the studio like she owned it and, once she was assured there were some treats involved, she climbed up on the ottoman and gave me some of the best shots of her that I’d ever taken!

Although I loved her expression and the contrast on the dark background in the image on the left, there were some technical issues that would not have fared well in competition. So I decided to work on the image on the lighter background. Her pose was a little awkward, though. I wondered if I could possibly get Piper back into the studio for a reshoot. Turns out, she was more than willing. A better pose, a little tweaking of color gradients, and cleaning up the background and I had my first image ready for judging at our state spring print competition! I titled it, “Little Miss Manners”.

It scored an 80, was challenged, and then re-scored at 78. If you’re not familiar with print competition, this is the scoring range:

Exceptional 100-95
Superior 94-90
Excellent 89-85
Deserving of a Merit 84-80
Above Average 79-75
Average 74-70
Below Exhibition Standards 69-65

In order to get a Merit image, you have to score 80 or above. Only images that score 85 and above will be considered for Loan judging. So 78… not even close.

If you’re interested in why it was scored that way, the challenge was recorded:

 

This is the part of the process where makers have a tendency to yell at the computer if they’re watching the judging online.

I did not have any sort of blur or lightening on that leg or shoulder but what matters isn’t what you have or haven’t done, but what the judges are seeing. So I had some edits to make before the PPA Northeast District competition. I got recommendations from my peers, sent the image off to my mentor, but I still had some serious banding issues on that seamless background where I couldn’t get a clean color. At the last minute, I decided to add a textured digital background and this is the image I submitted to the District competition with a new title of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”.

It scored an 83, acceptable… then was CHALLENGED… and scored an 86! This put the image solidly into the “Excellent” category and “sealed” it for judging at the International competition! At IPC, there are two rounds of judging – images that score 85 and above go on to a second round of judging for the Loan Collection. With a score of 86 at Districts, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” skipped the first round of IPC judging and went automatically for the Loan judging.

Unfortunately, the image didn’t “Loan” at IPC and will remain in the 2017 General Collection but I’m quite happy with it. And a general collection image gives me one more merit towards my Master of Photography degree!

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact Me

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

SHARING IS CARING!

Hand Embellished Paintings

I’ve been creating digital paintings for almost ten years. My techniques have evolved and I’m constantly learning and trying new ideas and digital brushes. Twenty years ago, I bought a print on canvas from a big online company and wanted to frame it. It was a great image but I thought it could use some more dimensionality. I went to our local college art shop and grabbed a container of gel medium. It’s a transparent/translucent acrylic gel that painters use to thicken up their paints. In this case, I brushed it over my canvas print, following the brush strokes, to make it look “real”. It worked, I had it framed, I hung it up, I forgot about it.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I was having a conversation with an extraordinarily talented digital artist who said she loved her latest creation and was going to do an “acrylic overpainting”. A… what? Why would she paint over a digital painting with acrylic paint? She then explained that she was using a transparent paint medium.  The lightbulb went on.

I’ve spent the time buying different brands, weights, and glosses of the gel in order to find what works for me. I commandeered every canvas sample in my studio that I could practice on and I’ve narrowed down the product and perfected the technique.  I find that the hand embellishment adds a dimension of depth and texture that adds a final level of artistry to the digital painting. I’m so excited to start offering it as an enhancement to my existing art product line!

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact Me

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!