PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOE WORTHEM
These artists capture people’s pets in lifelike portraits filled with personality. written by Ginny Cooper McCarley
Watercolorist Debbie Myers teaches several art classes at the Powerhouse Community Art Center. Students in Myers’ classes practice various techniques, such as painting from an upsidedown image, which can help achieve more accurate reproduction.
n art teacher and a graphic designer have each found a calling in helping people memorialize their beloved pets.
Debbie Myers’ Winsome Watercolor Portraits When a group of longtime students expressed interest in learning to paint pictures of their pets, Debbie Myers decided to teach a class covering the process from start to finish. “I teach several beginner watercolor classes at the Powerhouse,” Myers explained. “I have to keep adding classes because people want to keep painting, which is great.” By the end of the four-week course, each student had a completed a watercolor portrait that was ready to take home and frame. Lynn Wells, a participant in the class, painted a portrait of her son’s springer spaniel,
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Scout. “There is motion in the way her ruff is blowing across her face,” Wells said of her portrait. “As with all great water dogs, she is not bothered and is just awaiting her next command. This is an amazing breed. I raised my children with a springer named Molly and in turn, my son raised Scout as their family dog.” Wells gave the portrait to her son for Christmas. The gift turned out to be particularly poignant because Scout died in early December at the age of 16. For Myers, who has been painting commemorative pet portraits for family members for years, the eyes of the pet are the most important part to get just right. “The eyes in a pet are the window into their soul, so there are certain things you kind of need to get just right, like the light reflec-
tion,” Myers said. “The nose and the mouth are also really important when you’re painting a pet.” Myers began teaching art classes in Oxford when she retired to the area with her husband in 2009, but she has always been an artist. She earned a degree in graphic design from Arkansas State University and taught art in Memphis schools. “I’ve always enjoyed teaching,” Myers said. “I may not be the world’s best watercolorist, but I can teach you the techniques and you can develop them on your own.” When she isn’t painting or teaching others how to paint, you can find Myers with her own pet, Missi, an 11-pound bichpoo. “She’s very much a lap dog and a love dog, and she’s spoiled rotten,” Myers said, laughing.