A Look Inside My Brain

On the most basic level I like painting and I think I’m pretty good at it. On a more complicated level, the idea of working on a painting or answering messages makes me want to crawl into a hole. Even as I’m writing this post, I started it in a Google doc instead of directly into a website post because updating my website is just another thing that makes me anxious.

Let me explain. A lot of people won’t get it. I hope some people will.

I have hangups with making art. A lot of them. When I analyze them I feel like a spoiled brat because so many artists crave and need the amount of work I have sitting in front of me. My list of commissions is over 200 long and it has been sitting like that for years now. The more I think about it the more anxious and overwhelmed I feel. How did I get here? How do I move forward?

Doing the work and acknowledging the people is the only way to stop feeling this way, but it’s scary to me so I avoid all of it. Finishing a painting means I have to start another one and why bother because I will never get them all done. Posting my work on social media means I will get more messages about more paintings and I don’t know what to say to those people.

Mardi Paws 4

I try to motivate myself by reminding myself:

People are waiting. Stop disappointing them.

The animals I’m painting are amazing and beautiful and they deserve to be honored in a painting.

Just do a little painting each day. No pressure. It’s not that hard.

Have an hour or two of office hours at the same time every week.

Only watch TV while I’m painting and not at other times.

We could use the money. There are always vet bills, CrossFit competitions, a car to pay off…

I’m a talented artist and I should use my gifts.


But the thoughts that win are:

Avoid it. Maybe people will just forget.

People don’t get me. I can’t explain myself to them so I will just not try.

Don’t post your work. Then you will just have more messages/people to avoid.

What if I start this painting and it’s no good?

This painting should only take 8 hours to do, but I took 6 months. What a loser.

My studio is going to be too hot so I should just wait until tomorrow.

There’s laundry/food/dishes/dogs to take care of.

I am not a good businessperson and I have no idea what I’m doing.




I don’t know why I’m such a mess when it comes to painting. Somehow I have found a way to be a tortured artist while also having a great demand for my work, all of the tools I need, and time in my day to paint. I feel like I have dug a hole that I can’t get out of so I just don’t even try. It’s a perfectionist mentality I guess.

If you have been where I am and found a way to crawl your way out of it, please tell me what worked for you.

If you have been on my waiting list for a while and you just can’t wait anymore, I get it. I’m sorry. Please let me know.

If you are judging me hard right now I don’t want to hear about it. I have plenty to worry about already.

I want to find a way to do more work and I hope I do, but until then I guess I will just keep doing two paintings a year and finish in about 100 years.

Finally getting this off my chest feels like I accomplished something. Oh wait, but I could have used that time to paint… Here we go again. More thoughts.

IMG_20171217_142346 (1)



Happy New Year!

I have goals. 2016 is going to be a great year for this girl in her studio. I’m not going to say it will be better than the others because, hey, every year and every painting I have done and every person I have worked with has helped me grow as an artist and as a person. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true. I will tell you about my goals, but first, let’s take a look back at 2015!

Goal #1: PR on my paintings. That means I have to beat my record of 51 in 2013. So basically, I need to do one painting (or more!) per week. Totally doable. I am putting this out there into the universe to help me stay accountable. This doesn’t mean that I am going to rush and crank out paintings. The most important thing is that I give each painting the attention it deserves. I want to do your pets justice because they are all beautiful.

Goal #2: Engage more with people. Not in person, though. =) #introvertsunite  I will be more present on my Facebook page and be better at answering messages and emails. Customer service, y’all.

I wrote down all my goals in my fun new business workbook and I’m ready to move forward through 2016.

On a personal note, my main resolution for 2015 (which I had absolutely no control over) came true. All of our dogs stayed alive and healthy. We lost Ajax in 2012, Wallace in 2013, and Hector in 2014. I just couldn’t bear the thought of another loss. Angus, Mindy Lou, Scooby, and new dog Johnny all ended the year happy and loved.

Let me end by saying Thank You to everyone who has followed my work, showed support, commissioned paintings, waited patiently while I work through my list, and made me want to keep painting.

Let’s do this, 2016!




Hey Lady, Where Is My Painting?

I get a lot of emails asking for updates on individual paintings. I get it. You have to wait kind of a long time. I really wish I could crank out several paintings a week, but that’s just not my style.

My waiting list is massive. It’s a wonderful “problem”, but it can cause confusion and questions when people are waiting a long time. Let’s just say the number on the waiting list is in the triple digits. I know this is a good thing and I love that you all want my work!, but it also gets really overwhelming at times.

Please be assured that each of you and your pets are important to me. I want to give each painting the attention it deserves. I might even take them to heart a little too much. If something isn’t going right in a painting I actually feel upset because more than anything I want to do the animal justice. Yes, I want my customers happy, but mostly I want the animal to shine because each and every one of them is beautiful in real life so I want their paintings to be beautiful, too!

When moving on to the next painting, I go in order of when someone first commissioned me. Once in a while a customer has a special occasion for which they would like their painting so I try to accommodate within reason, but I try to be fair and go in order most of the time.

If you are concerned about the timeline based on a date you had in mind, please send me a message and I will let you know if I can finish your painting by then. If you just can’t wait anymore and you want to be removed from the list, please send me an email. I promise I will understand your concerns. If you are cool waiting then just remember that I will give your painting my full attention and care when I get to it.

I just wanted to take a moment to assure you all that I’m doing my best and working through the waiting list as fairly as possible. I love my job and I love that I will have work for a long time. Thank you for your kindness and patience.





Last week we lost our beloved Hector. While thinking about him and trying to commit every little detail to my memory forever, I realized he is my Most Painted Dog, my goofy-faced muse. For those who don’t know of him, his claim to fame was starting his life with NFL player Michael Vick as a fighting dog. Hector quickly proved to be much more than a scarred pit bull with a traumatic past. His sparkling charm and dog-friendly nature brought him to us via BADRAP. No rehabilitation necessary, he sailed through the CGC, therapy dog, and temperament tests and made his way into the spotlight, loving every second of it. But really, he was a regular dog. What was so remarkable about him was how unremarkable he was. That is not a slam on Hector. That is a glowing recommendation of all dogs and their individuality. What seemed so special about Hector was that he could come from a horrible situation and be such a regular amazing dog.

I guess Hector inspired me to give art to organizations that helped dogs like him. And my first painting ever was of him. Pinups for Pit Bulls was having an art auction and I thought, “Oh that’s right. I may have some artistic ability lingering somewhere. I don’t paint, but I am going to donate a painting anyway and it will be Hector.” I don’t know what that was about, but I made up my mind and did it. And along the way it turned into a full time job. Thanks, Hector.


My first painting. Donated to Pinups for Pit Bulls.


Dapper Hector

I loved the goofy grin on his face and had to paint it. Donated to A Rotta Love Plus.



Another dorky face to paint. This one is big and it’s all mine!


Mardi Paws 4

Always up for anything, Hector endured our goofiness, too. This one went to Camp Companion.



This was a little painting donated to A Rotta Love Plus.


The night after he died came the worst feeling ever. We came home after The Appointment and I could still feel him everywhere. I looked at the hallway at the base of the stairs and thought, “He was just sitting right there this morning”, upstairs in the dog bed in my studio, “He was right there this morning curled up with Mindy Lou”, by the front door, “He was wagging his tail here when we left to go to his Appointment”. Those are the kinds of things I think about initially, but gradually the dark thoughts morph into the happy memories…The way he pounced on toys, stole toys from the other dogs, loved sunshine more than anything, tricked us into one part of the yard so he could go eat poop in another part of the yard, remained his constant go-with-the-flow self in any kind of public situation (way more than I ever could), let Mindy gnaw on his face, buddied up with Angus and Scooby, cuddled with me occasionally after he got sick, obsessed over frogs and underwater things, refused to do out-and-back walks (loops only!), went bananas when I put essential oils on him, and ALWAYS backed up the other dogs when they barked at something (I guarantee he was clueless as to what the commotion was about, but he was glad to contribute to it). I know other qualities and memories about him will come back at random times just like when I suddenly remember Ajax pulling at my leg inviting me to play or when it’s feeding time and I think of Wallace wailing like he hasn’t eaten in a decade. I love those moments when a memory unexpectedly floods me. I look forward to smiling at my Hector memories.

It’s hard to put down my feelings in writing after losing a member of my family. Nothing I can say will do them justice or sum up how wonderful they were, but I will say this:

It was an honor to be one of Hector’s people. He made me better. He made the world better.



You may have noticed that I have fallen behind in my 35 Paintings in 35 Days challenge to myself. Well, I have a plan. I’m quitting my job. For real.
As my list of commissions grew, so did my frustration with having to cram painting into the few free moments I have each day. Then I realized something: It’s now or never. Thanks to all of you marvelous people who have booked paintings, I have enough full time artwork to sustain me for quite a while. I have two days of work left as store manager at a Dunn Bros Coffee shop and then I will have time to complete and enjoy my artwork and finally return all of the backed up emails and Facebook messages. I feel excited, proud, and blessed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I wanted to include a simple photo to go along with this post, but Mindy kept photobombing. Everything is better with Mindy Lou anyway.


I have been trying to think of the best way to write down how I feel about Wallace, but there is so much to say and I always get overwhelmed at this task. Just in his last year of life his book came out, he waded in the ocean, went to the Great Salt Lake, met Betty White, rode in a motorcycle sidecar, floated in a canoe, cruised in a convertible, competed in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge regionals, and spent a whole lot of time at home rolling in the grass, sleeping in the sun, and eating good food. How do I begin to describe such a dog and how I feel about him? He thrived. He proved himself. He made us better people. He lived.
I guess it’s pretty simple. I miss him. I have so many vivid memories and hundreds of amazing photos and videos, but those things aren’t enough. I don’t think there’s another way to say it: He was famous. People came out of the woodwork when Wallace succeeded, when he got sick, when they had a Wallace-related story to share, and when he died they mourned with us. I love all of the connections we made through him and knowing he made positive changes in the dog community. All of that is amazing and wonderful and huge, but what I miss most is my family member, my pet, my boy. I miss his pink pouty lips, his old man waddle, his rolling-in-the-grass happy roars, his super pathetic whining at mealtime, kissing the big divot in his head (though Hector has one, too, and he is getting extra smooches now that Wallace is gone), his happy willingness to go anywhere and do anything from adventures to vet visits, his mild but mischievous nibbles on his only friend Angus (“Wallace, don’t pick on Angus! He’s your only friend and you don’t want to alienate him.”), and I miss being his caretaker– I realized after he died that I really liked organizing his pills and assembling his special food and taking him to acupuncture– I felt important.
Since this is in fact my art blog, I will mention that one of the things I miss most is his enthusiasm for being in my studio. My space takes up the top half-story of our house and every time I opened that door to go upstairs, Wallace jumped to his feet to join me. It might have had something to do with the giant box of stuffies that many people sent to him when he got cancer, but whether or not I pulled out a stuffy from the closet for him to de-stuff, he was content and oh so pleased to be spending time in the special room.
The last week or two he started having trouble getting up the steep stairs. Sometimes he could do it with a little coaxing and the other times Roo carried him upstairs. We spent most of Wallace’s last night up in the studio. He slept on the magnet therapy dog bed while we camped out on the floor.
We had a lovely last day with Wallace. He rebounded a bit from the difficult day before. We took him for a walk around the neighborhood with Angus. He stopped in someone’s yard to soak up some rays, catch his breath, and smell the good smells. We gave him some leftover roasted chicken for lunch. He hadn’t had poultry in years because of allergies. His face lit up and he begged like a puppy. It was a beautiful day so he spent a good amount of the day in the backyard. The afternoon came around and it was time for the vet to come over. We said goodbye to Wallace while he lay in his fluffy bed with one of his favorite toys.
Wallace, you changed my life. You taught me hard lessons about unconditional love. You showed me what is possible. You made me feel needed. You were meant to be ours.

35 Paintings in 35 Days!

In honor of my 35th birthday coming up this fall, I am offering a new size of painting and a new challenge for myself: 35 paintings in 35 days! Starting September 1st I will paint one pet per day. These make great holiday gifts or just a fun gift to yourself. Here’s your chance to get a smaller size at a great price.
What: These acrylic paintings are 8 inches by 8 inches on stretched canvas. One pet per canvas. The background is a solid color.
Cost: $100 plus tax and shipping.
How: Contact me at ktothenines@gmail.com to get started. I will need at least one clear photo of your pet (more photos are better!).


Deviant Art Show a Huge Success

It gets bigger and better every year. And why shouldn’t it? Dogs plus art equals fun! Deviant Art – Dispelling Myths is an inspirational event that raises money for A Rotta Love Plus, a group that finds every way they can to help dogs in need. You can see event photos on A Rotta Love’s Facebook page and on my Facebook page. I was honored to be the featured artist this year, however, I think my dogs may have stolen the show. Wallace and Hector were not only stars in some of my work, they also created their own art (which sold, of course), and charmed the pants off of everyone. I really don’t mind. I’m used to it. They are much better at being in the spotlight than I am. They deserve it and relish it. And as of yesterday, they are both fighting for their lives. Tonight I dedicate my post, my thoughts, and my heart to my pit bull boys. Wallace has been surviving hemangiosarcoma for over seven months… much longer than expected. I love every moment with him, even (especially?) when he’s being naughty. Hector now has a similar and yet more complicated splenic mass. Tonight we decide course of action to take for him. Tonight while he sits in a kennel at the University of Minnesota, I think of him wearing his tux and smiling his dorky lopsided grin.

Deviant Art – Dispelling Myths

I am pleased to announce that I have been chosen as the featured artist for this year’s Deviant Art – Dispelling Myths event.  This show is a fundraiser for A Rotta Love Plus, a wonderful organization that rescues and rehomes rottweilers and pit bulls.  They also work tirelessly to educate about dog safety and the problems associated with breed discrimination. Please join me on Saturday, April 6th to celebrate the dogs and the art inspired by them. Special guests at the event will be our own two pit bulls, Wallace and Hector. Many thanks to Sarah of Lintu Art and the volunteers of A Rotta Love Plus for organizing the event. You can see the five pieces that I will have for sale at the event here.

Deviant Art