Having your portrait painted is a way of immortalizing yourself – popes, kings and queens have all done it. But what about pets?

Ange Bonnici, programs coordinator at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) in Dawson City, has decided it’s high time to include pets in the everlasting world of portraits.

In 2011, Bonnici wanted to give her parents a personal and unique Christmas gift. As a graduate of studio art from Capilano University in British Columbia, she decided to paint the family dog’s portrait.

Bonnici has always loved doing portraits so it seemed a natural transition to move towards painting portraits of animals.

“We love Larry,” says Bonnici of their beloved pet. “He’s a big part of our family. My parents were thrilled with the gift.”

After Larry, Bonnici continued to paint pet pictures as holiday and housewarming gifts. They were a hit, so she started doing them on commission.

“It kind of went from there,” she says.

Bonnici usually asks for multiple photos of the pet. She starts off with either a solid colour background or the one in the picture she has chosen with the pose she likes. She might even mix backgrounds between the photos, depending on what she feels works best. Size varies according to customer preference.

All of Bonnici’s work is done either in acrylic or oil. Each portrait is time consuming, especially with oil, so what if someone wants to order a portrait for Christmas?

“I need to know now,” she says.

Bonnici has noticed that it’s mostly dog owners that have requested a portrait. She’s done one cat, but hasn’t yet had requests for anything exotic, although she says she would be up for anything.

“People who love animals can understand how nice it is to have a portrait of a beloved family member,” she says. “A painting is special because it’s a little more than just a photo – it’s something extra.”

When asked what her future plans are regarding pet portraits, Bonnici says she doesn’t know.

“I’m an artist and I enjoy doing these portraits, but I also do other art,” she says. “I’ll continue as long as there’s a demand, but I don’t want to limit myself to doing this primarily.”

Bonnici loves a challenge and always likes to try new things.

“I’ll just go with the flow,” she says.

For more information on price and size availability, or to order a pet portrait, please contact Ange Bonnici at AngeBonnici@gmail.com.