With each new commission for a pet portrait, I ask for a number of photographs of the dog. Because I work from photographs, I need a very clear image, especially of the eyes. I want to get a sense of not only what the dog looks like but also of its personality. After a particular image is selected, I transfer it as a drawing to a canvas. Often, I start with the background. I love abstraction and my designs are inspired by the photograph or by something that the owner has said about the dog. For example, in the photo for “Toby,” the adorable little dog was sitting in front of a big cushion. I used the pattern on the cushion as the inspiration for my background. After I paint the background, I start on the dog, always beginning with the eyes and the nose. Then I use small brushstrokes to follow the direction of the fur. This is done in many layers. The entire process may take up to 30 hours.