‘An emotional experience’ South Shields artist on creating portraits of beloved pets

Amelia Willows from South Shields, has her own pet portrait business named Willows Portraits.

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A South Shields based artist, creates pet portraits to those who have lost a beloved pet or who just want to proudly display their furry friend.

Amelia Willows, aged 28, who works full time as a Teaching Assistant, also runs her art business Willows Portraits on the side.

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Amelia said: “I loved art from a young age and it’s always been a huge part of my life.”

Amelia studied a Fine Art degree at Northumbria University, and now uses the skills gained from her studies to launch two art businesses, Willows Portraits and Amelia Willows Art.

She explained: “As well as pet portraits, I take commissions for people portraits, abstract paintings, book illustration and all sorts of things.”

Amelia decided to launch her pet portrait business after she first drew a portrait of a friend’s dog as a birthday present when she was only 14 years old. 

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She said: “After that, I gradually got more commissions through word of mouth, which naturally led to starting it as a proper business. 

“I’ve kept it going throughout full time employment and education. For me, it’s important to have projects outside of my employed job.”

Amelia certainly keeps busy as she also teaches young people art at the weekends. She said: “I love the buzz of working with young people, and then to zone out while drawing portraits in the evening. It’s a nice balance.”

Amelia tells us of the process of creating a pet portrait, which includes the customer sending photos of their pet, and then deciding on the size of portrait they would like.

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“Each portrait takes around two weeks to complete,” Amelia explained. 

“My miniature Dachshund, Daisy and I have spent hours in the studio over the years, with lots of random music, podcasts, and the sound of her snoring in the background.”

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A pet portrait from Willows Portraits is priced depending on size and colour. 

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For pencil drawings, an A5 painting is priced at £70 for graphite, and £80 for colour. A4 is £90 for graphite and £100 for colour, A3 is £110 for graphite and £120 for colour. Amelia also offers acrylic, watercolour and oil paintings.

Amelia understands the importance of creating the perfect pet portrait, especially for those who have sadly lost their pet. 

She explained: “Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of drawing portraits of childhood dogs that have passed away, and then the owner’s new dogs, and sometimes even the next dog after that.

“This experience has been deeply touching because I've witnessed the cycle of joy and heartbreak that comes with owning a pet. As an animal lover myself, it's been a unique honour to be a part of my clients' journey and to capture the essence of their beloved pets, past and present.

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“I've also had the opportunity to draw portraits of not just pets but also parents, grandparents, and loved ones who have passed away. 

“One particularly poignant moment was when I was trusted to create a portrait of a father with his beloved dog, who had passed away shortly after his owner's passing. It was an emotional experience, and I may have had a tear in my eye as I worked on that portrait. Knowing that it brought comfort to the recipient was incredibly touching."

Willows PortraitsWillows Portraits
Willows Portraits

She continued: “These experiences underscore the profound value of art in preserving memories and emotions. My portrait business has shown me how art can be a source of comfort and solace, helping people cherish and remember their loved ones, both human and furry, for years to come. 

“It's a testament to the enduring and sentimental power of art, and I'm grateful to be a part of these special moments in my clients' lives.”

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