Paintings With Soul

Since October 2006 I've been a daily painter, creating a new pet portrait at least 5 times per week. Over the years I've expanded my offerings to include a variety of animals, pets, race horses, children and other treasured heirlooms. In addition, I accept a limited number of commissions each year.

In 2015 I am honored to be the Kentucky Derby Artist.

You may use the links below right to receive my daily paintings via email or to follow my blog with a feed. I post additional info, including in-process jpgs and other related information, on the studio Facebook page as well.

Meanwhile, thanks
so much for your continued support of my artwork.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Plus One

"One Plus One," 8" square, portrait of two cows, done in Golden Open Acrylics on an Ampersand Gessobord, $399 to the first one asking nicely.

Inquiries, including starting that long-awaited discussion about your special commissioned portrait, may come to me.

There are certain compositional rules in art, one being never put your focal point in the middle of your canvas. Another is not to break your painting up into equal spaces with the lines/structure of your composition.
"Nah nah nah nah nah nah," is what I say.

Sometimes, rules are meant to be broken.

Many thanks to my friends Elizabeth and Doug Nelson for the sharing of their bovine muses. (I did get out of the studio recently and made the acquaintance of some longhorns and a handful of sheep, so stay tuned!)

Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,
The newest fairy door in our garden, this
one emerging with the recent sunshine
at the base of a wizened black walnut tree.


While growing up, one of my best friends had the bestest sort of house - walls lined with books (her parents were both teachers), a piano parked alongside a great picture window (we would sit together and play chopsticks while watching for dragonflies), a black cat (for extra luck), a garden full of meandering paths that I could get lost in (her father was a master gardener), and resident fairies.

My home is also full of books and music and color and a kitty, and while my garden isn't quite as spectacular, I am delighted that fairies have always been a part of it.

The best part is that my kids believe, too, and love to share the magic with others.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Smiling Oliver

"Smiling Oliver," 4" x 6", commissioned portrait of a mixed breed, done in Golden Open Acrylics on canvasboard, private collection (THANK YOU!!).

I painted Oliver before, nearly 4 years ago. His family wanted a new portrait that showed off Oliver's bright smile, and I was happy to oblige.

Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,

Dancing Angels

I received several requests for reproductions of my Dancing with the Stars design.

Prints are sized approximately 13" x 14". You can have yours shipped in a tube ($24), matted and framed (starting at $103), or printed on canvas and stretched ($97).

There is also a notecards option.

Proceeds from every single purchase of Dancing with the Starz will be donated to Starz Performing Arts Dancing Angels Scholarship Program.

Thank you so much for supporting the dancers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Moppet, A Gratitude Painting

"Moppet," from The Gratitude Project, companion piece to yesterday's portrait of "Dixie," 6" square, commissioned portrait of a rescued Yorkshire Terrier, done in Golden Open Acrylics on gessobord, private collection (THANK YOU!!). As with all the paintings in "The Gratitude Project," proceeds from the sale of Moppet's portrait will benefit Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue.

Both Moppet and Dixie were understandably terrified of the camera (did you read their story?), so there was some coaching and training that went on behind the scenes. The idea was to gradually desensitize the dogs' to the camera and reinforce their newfound trust in their caregivers.

Their Mom began by associating the camera with treats - a smidge of peanut butter or a morsel of chicken, along with lots of petting and kind words. No picture taking, just nosing around the camera, smelling good things, and getting loved on.

Once they were comfortable with it, a (spare) camera got tucked into their bed and left around where they could comfortably co-exist. Moppet and Dixie became used to seeing and smelling it, just like any other household object.

And they began to look forward to the camera getting picked up, because guess what? they got treats and love when that camera was being waved in the air!

After several months, photo sessions ensued with the flash off (did you know that flashbulbs scare many animals?) and lots more treats and kind words.

And I had the references I needed to build their portraits and share their stories!

Do you have a rescued dog? share her story with me - you might just see a familiar face show up in your email one day.......

Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,
Spread the Love - Volunteer!!

Many Dog a Day fans are actively involved in promoting animal welfare. It's easier than you think, too:

  • A quick Google search will locate rescues and shelters in your area. Many have basic needs such as old household linens, cleaning supplies, and newspaper - things you might already be throwing out
  • Consider fostering a homeless animal - in some cases, food and veterinary care is included - talk to your shelter or local rescue group for details on how they arrange fosters (NOTE: my shelter always needs foster homes for momma cats so that kittens can be born in a family friendly environment)
  • Have computer skills? help a rescue design flyers or even assist with their web site, all from the comfort of your own home
  • Offer to walk a neighbor's dog. No neighbors? then hit up your shelter and walk some of theirs
  • Coordinate a neighborhood poop scoop of easements and other spaces
  • Host a pot-luck picnic where attendees bring a dish to pass and a donation for your local shelter/rescue
  • Set up a lemonade stand with proceeds going to your local shelter

When our children see us acting with compassion, it becomes second nature to them.

And everybody, including our companion animals, wins!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dixie, A Gratitude Painting

"Dixie," from The Gratitude Project, 6" square, commissioned portrait of a rescued Yorkshire Terrier, done in Golden Open Acrylics on gessobord, private collection (THANK YOU!!). As with all the paintings in "The Gratitude Project," proceeds from the sale of Dixie's portrait will benefit Yorkshire Terrier rescue.

Dixie and her sidekick Moppet (whom you'll meet tomorrow) came to their family through Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue. They came to their foster home, which quickly became their forever home, after spending 7 years at a farm where they received no socialization and experienced no human interaction (other than to have food dumped into their enclosure). Males and females were allowed to breed at will, and offending dogs were debarked.

Upon her arrival, Dixie was so terrified that she would lay perfectly still in her dog bed, never looking up, for hours at a time. When brought outside, she would run to the far corner of the yard, pressing herself against the fence, hiding her face.

Different story now, though, 2 years later. Although still timid and easily frightened, Dixie goes to work with her Mom and makes the most of her newfound freedom, winning the hearts of everyone she meets.

Dixie's Mom jokes that she failed Fostering 101. But I think she won the lottery. Twice (counting Moppet!!).

Do you have a rescued dog? share her story with me - you might just see a familiar face show up in your email one day.......

Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,

Looks like we all needed some sunshine !!

The painting "Little Ray of Sunshine" resonated with many, many, many of you.

I had an explosion of requests hit my email inbox, all wanting to purchase her.

Later this afternoon I will work my way through your inquiries on a first come basis - if you haven't yet heard from me, you will. Just hold your horses!!

Meanwhile, if you've gotta get some sunshine of your own, reproductions and notecards can be ordered here.

And thanks SO MUCH for your interest in this painting - Nettle is a star! Something that is not surprising at all to those who know and love her!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Little Ray of Sunshine (Nettle)

"Little Ray of Sunshine (Nettle)," from The Gratitude Project, 5" square, portrait of a former puppy mill mama now turned a much loved and spoilt Cairn Terrier, done in Golden Open Acrylics on gessobord, possibly available (Nettle's Mom get's first dibs on the painting). Email me if you are interested.

Puppy mills are a horrible enough place to start life out, but can you imagine if that's all you knew?

Never tasting fresh water or feeling green grass under your feet. Never knowing the complete exhaustion of a long hike or the total relaxation of a hearthside nap. Not ever hearing your name spoken gently - or maybe never even having one.

Nettle didn't ask for any of that, yet that was all she knew, bearing multiple litters, living in a stacked wire crate.

And now it's changed for the better.

Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,

Happy Weekend!

Whether you are watching the Preakness or rooting for your team at a soccer tournament or cheering on a Speedy Gonzales at a trackmeet or helping out at a dance recital or planting flowers in your garden or teaching journalling classes to a mess of kids or eating the first ice cream fudge sundae on the porch.

Enjoy yourself!

I sure will!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kitten Fluff

"Kitten Fluff," from The Daily Paintworks Challenge, 4-1/4" x 5", portrait of a wee ball of fur, done in Golden Open Acrylics on gessobord, available for $219 (preferred collectors pay only 198!!). Email me if you are interested.

The Daily Paintworks group issues weekly challenges, many of which I've been able to tackle. They are a wonderfully talented group of daily painters with a fabulous and well designed web site. It is rewarding to see them add interactive elements and exercises - the sorts of things I haven't been able to take on/think about since college.

This week's challenge was to work from a darling kitten photo. As I write this, 60 artists have participated, with their results shared on the challenge page. It's fascinating stuff, how each of us has seen the same image and interpreted it entirely differently.

So what do you suppose is this kitten's story?

Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,

Another Challenge

Another recent Daily Paintworks Challenge was to create a self portrait.

This is a spread from my journal, done in marker, watercolor, gel and souffle pens, along with some collaged elements. It was my demo for a Creative Journalling lesson I led my younger students through: building a self portrait using colors and symbols that might tell a story in addition to the portrait itself.

I love stepping away from the easel and reaching for art materials I wouldn't normally use on a pet portrait.

And I love embracing a means of mark making that's still expressive, yet isolated, too, from my regular manner of creating.

Perhaps that's why I've embraced journalling.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Little Dog, Big Shadow


"Little Dog, Big Shadow," from "The Gratitude Project," 5" square, portrait of a delightful little rescued mix breed, done in Golden Open Acrylics on an Ampersand Gessobord, not for sale.

Do you ever have the good fortune to meet someone who inspires you without any effort on their part whatsoever?

Foxy's Mom is just such a person. Her heart is always in alignment with her actions. She's dedicated her life towards making others' better, without ever losing her sense of humor. And Foxy is her ever present shadow, a witness to the trail of sunshine they leave behind.

My only regret is the 1/2 a continent that separates us.

Meanwhile, tonite, I'm raising a fine glass of red wine in her direction. And shortly I'll be prepping Foxy's painting to take a little trip out west.

Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,


Naughty Dog

Last year, in great part because of your support, I was honored by seeing one of my dog portraits grace Mutt Lynch's newest red.

And this year they are looking for the next label design.

Nearly 100 entries were submitted. Voters will choose their favorites, and then the jury selects the winning design.

Take a peek and cast your vote here!!

I'm warning you, though - it's a tough decision!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Gossips, Part Two

Above Step 3 and, below, the finished version of my newest painting "The Gossips" (Steps 1 and 2 were shared yesterday). This painting is 9" x12", done in Golden Open Acrylics on Ampersand Gessobord, $529. Please email if you are interested in purchasing.

I spent today wallowing in color, color, color. I slipped a detail of the cows down below, so that you can get a better peek at the layers of brushwork.

Can you see how, when taken out of context, the lower portion of the painting reads as pure abstraction? This pleases me to no end - it's one of my favorite bits about painting.

So what's next?

I've got a couple dog commissions lined up and another barnyard pair and I'd really like to also get to the Daily Paintworks Challenge. We'll see what I feel like painting tomorrow when I stand in front of the easel. Any guesses at what it'll be?

Thanks again to photographer Doug Nelson for generously sharing his reference photo! There's more cows to come, some inspired by additional shots Doug's taken, and some inspired by the cows at my local dairy farm.

Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,

BELOW DETAIL FROM "THE GOSSIPS," pictured in their entirety above.

Future Rock Star ????????

The Princess has been a dancing fool the last couple weeks, gearing up for 2 different recitals/performances.

Finnigan got into the act over the weekend, donning a Florence wig and belting out his own version of "Dog Days Are Over."

We tried to get Mona Lisa (the kitten) to wear the Katy Perry wig, but she was having no part of it

Which meant my Better Half ante-ed up. Although he looked a little more like Ozzy with bangs than Katy Perry.....

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Gossips, A Lesson Painting, Part I

ABOVE and BELOW: Both in process views of new painting "The Gossips," 9" x12", Golden Open Acrylics on Ampersand Gessobord, available for purchase. I anticipate finishing this painting later today or tomorrow - pleaseemail me if you are interested in purchasing.
A couple weeks back I asked on Facebook what sorts of critters you wanted to see me paint. Cows were an overwhelming favorite, and one follower went so far as to send me some fabulous reference photos.
Doug Nelson is a phenomenally talented photographer, with gallery representation and plenty of experience shooting reference photos for his artist wife. I was beyond delighted to have his blessing to paint from a few of his bovine photos (please see below for more information on working from photographic references).
I'm kicking myself for not capturing this piece's underpainting - the top 1/3 was a luscious violet, which you can still see peeking around the cows' toplines. The middle was a swath of orange, and the bottom a rich ocher.
Overtop those layers, I began sculpting the forms, using loose brushmarks, building generic shapes. And I gradually am working to tighter marks and more distinct forms - but I never completely cover up the yummy colors that started it all off.
Ok, back to work! This one is truly a good time!!
Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,

Using Photo References

Did you know that artists MUST have permission from the photographer in order to use their photos as references in the creation of an artwork?

Regardless of where you find the photo, whether it be in a magazine or online or someplace else, you must first obtain the photographer's permission.

No exceptions. Ever.

This goes for copying paintings/other artwork, too, even if you are doing so as a learning exercise. (It's also worth noting here that copies made for learning purposes should be clearly marked as derivatives by titling them "After so-and-so." It is also unprofessional to exhibit copies or present them as your own original work.)

Lifting an image - photographic or otherwise - and copying it in any manner without the originator's permission is stealing.

I have this conversation regularly with my students and on many online forums/groups.

It's simple.

Ask. Permission. First.

You only have one reputation.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Come Paint with Me !!

You are cordially invited to come spend a day in the studio with me, learning some vibrant color mixing techniques and practicing "loosening up" exercises. Click on the above image for a larger view.

Hope to paint with you!
Kim Santini

Josie, A Painted Sketch

Detail of "Josie," image approximately 4" x 6" , on an 8" x 10" piece of Multimedia Artboard, portrait of a Cairn Terrier, done in Golden Open Acrylics, proceeds benefittingCol. Potter Cairn Rescue.

Josie's Mom is caught between a rock and a hard place - pondering her sidekick's sketch vs a larger and more detailed full-body portrait. And who knows, she might take both!

But meanwhile, if you are interested in this one, shoot me an email! "Josie" is a charming original priced at $100 - when she's gone, she's gone!!

Thanks for sharing my artwork with your friends and family,
Mug Shots

The Canine Art Guild, of which I am a proud founding member, has an excellent online exhibition right now titled "Mug Shots."

Please visit the show and cast your vote for "The People's Choice" award.


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