Tuesday, July 29, 2014


8" x 10"
oil on canvas

Jersey's story…
"We got Jersey when she was 8 weeks old while living in California.  We are both dog people but she was our first small dog.  Our previous dog was a German Shepherd so a Frenchie was a big change, and she did not disappoint. This dog had our number from the day we got her and she knew it.  The day we got her we said she would sleep in her bed next to ours, By day 2 she was sleeping in our bed, under the covers, with her head on the pillow...snoring.  We actually got a king sized bed to fit her more comfortably.

Her two favorite things are to cuddle and to cause trouble.  When she can't cuddle she causes trouble.  At 6 months old she set off our 75lb motion detectors (she is 25lb) and got a visit from the local police department when her mommy forgot to put her in her kennel for the day. She loves walks, but if you take her too far she will lay down and you have to carry her back.  There is nothing you can do to get her to walk.  She will keep laying back down.  

When she was a year old we added a baby boy to our little family.  She was not amused.  Especially when he was 18 mo to 2 years and loved to try to tackle her.  Now that he is three and knows how to play nice they love each other.  Jersey is a complete joy, she has kept her mommy company during 2 of her daddy's deployments. We don't know what our life would be like without her."

You may recall seeing jersey in a painting I did a few months ago…

Sunday, July 27, 2014


10" x 8"
oil on canvas

Lucie's Story…
"I first met Lucie (Bootie) in 2005 at "Tails U Win" in Oak Island NC. She was about 3 months old at the time and was very sick with Parvo. Her rescuers were not sure if she would pull through or not. We had just lost a dog to old age & I was visiting different rescue organizations & donating food etc in order to ease the pain of our recent loss. We were unsure if we were ready for a new pup and when I left "Tails U Win" that day I had no idea that I would soon be bringing her home. A couple of weeks after my visit, Betty with "Tails" called and said that Lucie (Bootie) had recovered and would be available at PetsMart for adoption. My husband and I went over there "just to look" and someone had Lucie out on a leash. Instantly, I felt my heart in my throat. The minute they put that leash down, I snatched it up and haven't let go ever since! I think the fuzzy red boy I had just lost sent this fuzzy red girl to take his place."

This is the second time I have painted Lucie…

Friday, July 25, 2014


10" x 8"
oil on canvas

Coach's story…
"I was at work one day in 2007 and during a slow period, I started looking through Paws Print magazine & found 2 blonde golden retriever pups (Pooh Bear & Sugar Bear) at the Brunswick Animal Shelter. My husband (who had never stopped by the store before) came in that day and asked what I was looking at and was I going to call about them. Once again, we weren't planning on another pup but when I called I learned that Pooh Bear was still available. We took Lucie (our other rescue) with us to meet the pup and we knew pretty quickly that it was a match made in heaven! Pooh Bear was renamed Cochise because he acts like a little chief and we call him Coach for short. He's grown from a skinny little lost pup into a 75 lb beauty and is a loving companion."

This is the second time I have painted coach…

Thursday, July 24, 2014


8" x 10"
oil on canvas

Alex's story…
"I adopted Alex from Crete, Greece in June 2012. He had been hung alive from an olive tree. I had visited Greece on vacation and noticed the awful way Greek stray dogs are treated. It is not uncommon for dogs to be hung, given food with poison, shot, kicked and thrown stones at. I decided after my vacation that I would look into adopting a Greek stray. I found a picture of Alex within a week of being hung. A school boy and his teacher had found him. From the pressure of the rope around his neck he lost an eye and two teeth and has a ugly scar on his neck. I talked with the woman that found him and another that was in charge of his care. As soon as he was well enough he flew from Athen's to Boston where I picked up. He sat in my lap the for the ride to VT about 5 hours. He is the sweetest dog. He is what started New England Helps Greek Strays. In a way Alex is one of the lucky ones because he made it out. Many dogs live a very bad existence in Greece in barrels. The metal is the only shade from the baking sun in the summer and the only protection form the cold in the winter. Most of these dogs do not have clean drinking water and many are left to starve tied to these barrels.
Alex enjoys laying on my bed and playing with my other dogs."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Curly Cow

"Curly Cow"
22" x 22"
oil on canvas

This is a commission I just completed for a collector.
My friend humorously calls it a "cowmission".

The show is tonight from 5-8pm -
I'll have all the new paintings up!
(they look so much better in person than on this silly monitor)

Thursday, July 17, 2014


8" x 10"
oil on canvas

I just love this face!

About Huck:
"You can say he is very stubborn; incorrigible but more than makes up for it by being very sweet."

I will have all the new paintings at the show Friday!

"Kizzy" Commission

8" x 10"
oil on canvas

The name Kizzy came from Roots, she was the daughter of Kunta Kinte.

I wanted to share the clients email… this painting was originally going to be a surprise...

"Oh, gosh Clair. Wow. It's perfect. Really, it's beautiful and we love it. Yes, I'm afraid the cat's out of the bag because when I saw this last night, I started crying and couldn't seem to pull it together. Ranald, of course, wanted to know what was wrong, and I was too emotional to make anything up! So, I showed him, and we both started to cry, and we're both thrilled with it. Thank you."

Here is Kizzy's story:
We adopted our beautiful girl out of Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue when she was 18 months old. She had had a tough time as a puppy, so she didn't trust many people, but the three of us loved each other right away. She was an amazing athlete, a tremendous hunter, and the best guard dog we've ever seen. She had a regal, queenly bearing, and she loved to sit in the sunshine for hours.

This was her memorial:
It is with a heavy heart and a spirit filled with gratitude that we let you know that our dear Kizzy passed over the Rainbow Bridge last night, completing this part of her journey, and she is now on her next adventure. She had her quirks, but we loved her, and she loved us back with ferocity. We continue to feel her so close by, making sure we are OK, as she always has. The last couple of days, the three of us talked a lot about our walks on the beach, at the park, and chasing her leash at UNCW. The way the squirrels ran for cover whenever she went into the backyard, and how much she loved being pet on the belly - but only by us, her people she could trust. How she got the top marks in obedience class, but woe be it to the person who dared to ring our doorbell! She was beautiful, proud, and fiercely loyal. If you would think of her today and send an ear scratch her way, we would love that. Mindy and Ranald

Don't forget about the show tomorrow night!
I'll have all the recent paintings up!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


10" x 8"
oil on canvas

A little about Homer...
Homer is the sweetest and gentlest dog I have ever known. For over 11 years, he has been Megan’s faithful companion, and the two are virtually inseparable. Homer’s favorite things are tennis balls and his Wubba toy. If you let him, he’ll jump off the dock all day to retrieve the Wubba toy in the lake. He is intelligent, loyal, loving, intuitive, playful and happy and is a true joy to be around.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


10" x 8"
oil on canvas

Bear's story:
Bear is the dog I waited 40 years for. I wanted a dog as long as I can remember – from childhood on. Growing up, we always had cats but no dog. Of course, I couldn’t have a dog in college or grad school or even as a single working professional living in an apartment complex.

At age 28, I married a non-dog person. He had never grown up around animals and had never been around a really great dog. I knew that he had the potential to become a dog lover if given the chance. A friend of ours had a wonderful golden retriever, and once or twice a year we would travel to Montana to stay with her and photograph in the surrounding area. Sure enough, over the years Mike ended up falling in love with Bridger, and so I started dropping hints about getting a golden of our own. Even after I had him convinced, we ended up waiting until we built our dream house on several acres just outside of town. We decided a golden retriever would be much happier if he had lots of room to run and play.

Bear came into our lives almost 10 years ago. He was the blondest and fattest puppy in his litter, and we both knew he was the one. He has given us more joy over the past 10 years than we could’ve ever imagined! He is smart, kind, playful, loyal, and goofy all rolled into one! And although his face is now white, he continues to be just as playful as he was years ago. Bear always greets us with a stuffed toy in his mouth, so in that sense he is a true retriever. However, he has never been into playing fetch. Instead, he likes to run around with the ball in the mouth and play keep-away from his humans.

Clair’s painting is based on a photo of Bear I took when he was less than a year old. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014


8" x 10"
oil on canvas

Lucy started out named Chin. Her story began like any other dog story, but after 6 months her owner developed brain cancer with only months to live. Tammy, who had three dogs at the time found out through a friend and despite having her hands full, wanted to help. As soon as she saw Chin, she knew there was an instant connection and just couldn't leave her. She renamed her Lucy after a song a friend sings and her favorite television show.
Lucy will be 14 years old in February.

Friday, July 11, 2014


oil on canvas
8" x 10"

This is Sailor's story:

I adopted Sailor 2 weeks before I adopted Cleo but I "met" them at the same time. It was fate :-)

Hard to believe but one year ago tomorrow Sailor adopted me.  I initially went to the shelter because I'd seen a photo of Cleo on the New Hanover Sheriff's Office Animal Services Unit and have every intention of coming home with a large black Newfoundland mix.  Teri at NHSOASU walked me into the cage area toward Cleo's area but halfway down the hall was this small, trembling and terrified Cairn Terrier mix who was by far the smallest dog in the joint and without a doubt the most hysterical and frightened.  He was desperately climbing the chain link of his cage in an effort to get my attention.  It was impossible not to notice the little guy and feel his fear.  Teri escorted Cleo and me to one of the "get acquainted" rooms which also happened to be right outside of the little Cairn's cage.  All the while I was seeing if Cleo and I meshed, the Cairn was expending every ounce of energy to elicit my attention.  What to do?

I asked Teri about the little guy and, sensing my weakening resolve, she suggested bringing him in to join us.  I felt my resolve melting like a puddle.  Cleo was mostly just interested in the treats and didn't appear to be in any real distress at all.  Cleo was obviously a shelter celebrity and had everyone fawning over her. 

Sailor burst into the holding room and leapt into my arms.  He was shaking...behaving as if he was scared of Cleo (ha - what a joke that would turn out to be!) and frantic to avoid a return to his cage. 
Basically, Sailor was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  How could I put that little guy back in the cage and leave him behind?  Sometimes I wonder if Sailor and Cleo conspired to lure me into their plan of household domination.  One year later, neither of them will confess or comment.
Teri told me that she was sure Cleo would be adopted before the weekend was over - such a magnificent and gorgeous Newfie mix wouldn't stay available long.  She did her best to pave the way for my change of plans.

Cleo showed no particular unhappiness in being returned to her cage at the end of the room.  I'm not sure Sailor would have lived through another day there and, because of his hysterics, I found myself signing papers, being invited to choose a leash and collar color, and before I knew it I was walking out of the shelter with a mere shadow of the dog I had arrived to adopt. 

I put Sailor in the back seat and just shook my head at how funny life turns out when I make plans.  Before I was two miles from the shelter, Sailor had thrown up all over the back seat.  Ha! 

My sister Sharon Pate Batts had asked me to meet her somewhere so she could see my new baby so we rendezvoused at Petsmart.  Sailor was a scraggly looking, bony and sparsely furred canine who looked as if life had been rough and unkind.  He was picked up as a stray and weighed in at just over 13 lbs.  I can't convey the fright in his eyes but he looked so much as if he wanted to trust that it was all going to be ok.  His tail was firmly tucked and there was no spring in his step at all.  Sharon said he reminded her of her beloved dog Annie who had passed away a couple of years earlier after a long and happy life.  We both, however, thought the little guy needed some good food, a bath and a whole lot of love.  Fortunately, I could take care of all three of those things.

I felt so guilty leaving Cleo behind at the shelter but confident that she would find the right home - little did I know that less than two weeks later I would be back there signing more papers and bringing her home where she belonged! 

One year later, Sailor now weighs a robust 18 lbs, has no fleas and basically runs the house.  He's a wonderful cuddler, poses at the hint of a photo op and can be heard to emit a grumpy growl if he doesn't get enough sleep.  He's also a funny, sweet, smart and savvy little guy who has us all wrapped around his paw.  His coat is no longer scraggly but rich, thick and lustrous and he LOVES baths and a daily brushing.  Oh, and that tucked tail - it wags vigorously and often.

Sailor arrived two weeks after I had to say good bye to my sweet Cassie, who had to be put down following kidney failure.  My heart was still broken but I couldn't handle not having a dog.  Sailor needed me as much as I needed him. 

Thank you Sailor for giving us so many smiles this past year and entertaining us with your Terrier antics and backyard squirrel chasing prowess and for being such a happy and talented swimmer! 
I may have signed the adoption papers and paid the fee but we both know the truth, you rescued me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


10" x 8"
oil on canvas

Cleo's story:
Note: Sailor is Susie's other adopted dog
- stayed tune for Sailor's portrait!

One year ago today, two weeks after initially heading to New Hanover Sheriff's Office Animal Services Unit with the intent of adopting her, Cleo FINALLY came to the home she truly belonged in all along.  I had visited the shelter with the full intention of bringing her home on 2 November 2012, but Sailor wound up joining us that day after putting on one of the most heart-wrenching, theatrical displays I've ever witnessed. 

Upon our first meeting, Cleo was calm, happy and seemed perfectly fine with the people taking care of her at the shelter.  Sailor...not so much.  Sailor was a great fit for our family but...something kept tugging at me. I could never get Cleo out of my thoughts. I monitored her status on the NHSOASU site hoping every day to see where she had finally found her family. On 12 November 2012 it appeared she had been adopted and was off to her new home.  On 13 November 2012, she was back at the shelter, apparently having the misfortune of being adopted by someone who didn't clarify to her roommates that this was a BIG dog, so back she came.  This is when my heart moved to my throat. I was so sad to see this.

Cleo had initially been an "owner surrender" and to be returned again was too much for me to handle. I made up my mind if she was still available by Friday, 16 November, she was coming home. I'd even posted my intentions on the shelter site.

Sure enough Friday rolled around and, true to my word, I headed to the shelter at noon following some prodding by my beautiful and wise daughter in law, Stephanie Tyler Parker who knew it was meant to be.

I walked tentatively back into the shelter and upon crossing the threshold, was greeted warmly by the staff who knew why I was there.  "Susie - Cleo's ready for you!" they announced exuberantly. I was toast.

But I still wasn't convinced entirely. Picking up on this one of the great staff at the shelter suggested Cleo and I go to the play yard and get to know each other.  Talk about a flat meeting - if this had been a date, we would have smiled, shaken hands and said "see you later" which is match.com speak for "I don't think so". 

Cleo was having NOTHING to do with me. They would throw a ball for her and then hand me the ball and this giant loping black dog would return it to them, not me.  There was no chemistry, no "I'm so happy to see you please take me home and love me forever".  Cleo was playing VERY hard to get. I had doubts about it working out but a promise was a promise. The staff did everything they could to make it work but Cleo was having NONE of it.  She was far more interested in everyone there.

I half-heartedly nodded and signed on the dotted line, chose the complimentary purple collar and leash, smiled for the obligatory shelter photo to the cheers of the staff and as soon as the door opened, Cleo literally pulled me to my car.  No really - I had no idea a dog could have so much strength.  It took two hands and a lot of begging on my part to SLOW HER DOWN.

Oh my...this had all the ingredients for an adoption disaster.

I herded her to the back seat of my car and as I was backing up in the parking lot, I looked in my rear view mirror and was stunned to realize that Cleo was taller in the seat than I was.  What had I done?

Of course, I hadn't alerted anyone at home that I was bringing a 90 lb pony to live with us.  Sailor, after two short weeks, was running the show and the Prince of the palace.  You can imagine his glee at my opening the door and Cleo bounding in the house running over anything in her path, including Sailor. Talk about indignant - Sailor was all that and more.

My parents looked at Cleo and looked at me and then back at Cleo as if they were sure I had lost my mind. I was wondering the same thing. I'd never had a dog this huge. I thought Cassie was large at 50 pounds. Ha!

Sailor and Cleo circled each other and Sailor feigned a combination of disgust and fear. Cleo, for her part, was just completely clueless but seemed to love the backyard and really enjoyed chasing Sailor. I just didn't know if this would work at all. Here I was with a small terrier who was suddenly shaking and afraid of his shadow and a pony which didn't seem all that fond of me and appeared to think Sailor was an interactive wind up toy. 

Somehow, we made it through the rest of the day. That night, Sailor decided to bed down with my parents and Cleo thought my bed would be just fine and oh, by the way, I was suddenly her new best friend.  I can't pinpoint the exact moment it happened but during that first night she had gone from decided indifference to becoming my shadow; my really large, loping, gangly shadow.

Within 48 hours, I couldn't remember life without her and when someone would approach me she would sit upright and get in front of me in full protection mode, large white teeth exposed for added effect.

Sailor and Cleo spent the next week establishing their place which basically meant that Sailor let Cleo know that HE had seniority and size notwithstanding, Cleo would forever be his minion and underling.  Cleo seemed to accept this without any real static and within a week or two, you really would have thought they were siblings, save for the fact there was absolutely no physical resemblance and the approximate 70 lb difference in size. 

While Sailor is the clown of the family, Cleo is the steadfast, deeply devoted, follow me anywhere and everywhere (except the pool!) best friend I could ever wish or hope to find. She wakes me up at unreasonable hours to toss the tennis ball outside (and I usually oblige!) and she stretches out right beside me every evening. She gazes at me as if I really am her one and only mother and sits faithfully beside me on driving errands (unless Sailor is in the car and then she sits in the backseat).

Cleo, I absolutely adore you and I am so thankful that in spite of previous human misfortune you gave my species another chance and found a way to trust that I would take the best care of you that I know how.  I could ask for no finer companion and bodyguard and I am so proud of how you have acclimated to our family. I appreciate your menacing bark when I don't know who's at the door and I dearly love that you make me go outside several times a day to toss that ball and have some fun.

Thank you so much for waiting on me to meet you and thank you to the New Hanover Sheriff's Department Animal Services Division for taking care of my girl until we could properly meet. It was the best kind of destiny.

I ♥ you Cleo.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

PAINT MY DOG - Star Puppy

8" x 10"
oil on canvas

And so it begins… the "PAINT MY DOG extravaganza!
The list has grown to 38 reservations!!
So plan on seeing lots more doggie portraits.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Paint My Dog" List is Filled!

Thank you to all who reserved a space -  It filled up so fast and because of the overwhelming response, I had to expand it to 30! Now, time to get painting!
Here is the official list:
1 - Susie - Sailor
2 - Susie - Cleo
3 - Tammy - Lucy
4 - Lisa - Bear
5 - Lisa -  Homer
6 - Kenneth - Huck
7 - Deborah - Coach
8 - Deborah - Lucie
9 - Christine - Alex
10 - Gale - Jersey
11 - Judy - Foxy
12 - Pat - Ze Ze
13 - Donna - Dexter
14 - Dawn - Rhylee
15 - Laura - Copper
16 - Rosanne - Lyra
17 - Joanne - Liam
18 - Alene  - Bandaid
19 - Lea  - Huckleberry
20 - Nicola - Ethel
21 - Michele - Lexi
22 - Helen - Zephie
23 - Nicole Reid - TBA
24 - Ellen - Bodhi
25 - Jenny McCarthy - TBA
26 - Stacy - Rosie
27 - Carolyn - Indy
28 - Bekah - Stella
29 - Bekah - Sig
29 - Stacie Jo -  Dunkin
30 - Stacie Jo  - Ellie

Paint My Dog! - I have 4 spots left!!


I am gearing up to paint 25 dogs. If you would like to reserve a spot, send me a photo of your dog, your name and I will put you on the list. Once the list is done, I will post it and will start painting. 

Please no "flashed out" photos - they look fine as photos, but not as paintings!

There is no obligation to buy, but if you do want to purchase, I will sell them for $150 (plus shipping).

I have 4 spots left!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Landscape Challenge #30

"Key West"
5" x 5"x 1 3/4"
oil on canvas
see it in my shop

I wanted to do a large grandiose painting and worked half the day on it yesterday. The way it turned out and they way I saw it in my head were two different versions - one, sadly looked a lot like mud.
So I decided to switch gears and do something simple.

Now that I am finished with my landscape challenge I breathe a sigh of relief and come to the conclusion that (1) although, I love a great landscape, I do not have a passion for painting landscapes and (2) I love painting dogs and I think it shows.

I do think this exercise was good because I was able to experiment with palette knife painting and I was I feel I loosened up a bit. I find that landscape painting allows much more wiggle room for interpretation than say a dog painting or still life and also, at times I would kind of slip into a kind of "stream of consciousness" painting which was quite enjoyable.

I prob won't be doing another landscape challenge, but you never know. Maybe one day, I'll become more passionate about landscapes.

I have lots of good news…
I am featured in this month's magazine SALT Magazine
You can find the whole article here:

Also Sun Gallery and Gifts with have all my dog paintings up for a show July 18th, 2014…
Hope to see you there!


Finally, I am gearing up to paint 25 dogs. If you would like to reserve a spot, send me a photo of your dog, your name and I will put you on the list. Once the list is done, I will post it and will start painting. 

There is no obligation to buy, but if you do want to purchase, I will sell them for $150 (plus shipping).