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.

Friday, March 30, 2012



I proudly give you "Rush," 12" x 16", acrylics on a museum quality panel, commissioned portrait of a wonderfully personable and dearly missed pointer, private collection (THANK YOU!). Inquiries, though, may always come to me- I can do this sort of thing with your dog (or cat or horse or bunny.....). Just imagine.....

In process pics of Rush's portrait are also on the studio Facebook page. Feel free to check in over there and comment on my process or art in general.


THIS is why I love my job. All the other nonsense melts away when I am able to stand at my easel, slip into my zone, and pull do this sort of thing seemingly out of nowhere.

Rush was a shelter dog who arrived with a gunshot wound to his knee and no other information. He ultimately ended up with his forever home, a family that nursed him to health with unconditional love, via a shelter employee who noticed Rush's usual even temperment was changing. He needed out.

The employee brought Rush to his neighbors house and there was a short lived happily ever after. They didn't get much time together - just a couple of years - but it was enough time for Rush to leave behind a legacy of joy, charm and delight in the outdoors.

Rush was the sort of dog who didn't just impress his family. They were once invited to an event and told if the guys at the door didn't know them, to just say they belonged to Rush.

He's running after technicolored tennis balls now - I hear there is no shortage of them across the bridge.

Enjoy your weekend, and do something with all out gusto, in memory of Rush -


My post yesterday  questioning the line between inspiration and imitation struck a chord with many. Thank you for your support and encouragement - it is really appreciated.

Countless individuals have emailed me outlining their own circumstances - whether it be other artists stealing their imagery or questions about safely publishing images to the web. I promise to reply to each as time permits - but remember that I am not an expert on copyright law. 

Truly this conversation should continue in all sorts of places - art guilds, online forums, artists blogs and facebook are just a few locations where youcan start a dialogue on respecting intellectual property. Feel free to link back to yesterday's article.

And thanks for taking the baton and running with it!

Meanwhile, my spring break officially started 90 minutes ago when The Princess got off the bus. We've got a busy week planned that will include museum visits (I'm already salivating over seeing a new to me Dale Chihuly installation - his art is mind bogglingly beautiful), making art together and hanging with friends. If it's not your spring break week, don't worry - you can live vicariously through us - I'll keep you updated!

And who knows - The Princess might even take over the blog for a day!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Inspiration vs Imitation

I didn't post yesterday, but not because I wasn't working. I was painting like a mad woman (and posting regular updates to the studio's Facebook page) but also pondering.
Inspiration vs imitation? Where does one end and the other start? How do we identify the boundaries of an idea and see how it's propigated? And what ideas are fresh? Is there even such a thing as a fresh or new idea?

I got to thinking how no one can own a style or approach or even a compositional idea, and isn't it amazing how the same spark of inspiration can send different brains in different directions.

Inspiration comes in all forms. I am not the first - or last - artist to paint a particular perspective or silhouette.

But where does inspiration fall by the wayside? When does inspiration become a crutch, leading directly to imitation?

This was precipated by my discovery yesterday of a daily painter like myself, one who enjoys painting animals too. And one who had several paintings in their portfolio nearly identical to paintings of mine.

In the past I've had other artists set up websites with domain names and content similar to mine at Painting a Dog a Day.It was then when I reminded myself of that old saying "Imitation is the highest form of flattery."

Either that or it's pure coincidence - I discretly pointed out once that a fellow pet portrait artist's domain name and blog design were nearly identical to mine, and did they have any concerns our customers would not be able to tell us apart? Absolutely not and how dare I accuse a devout Christian like them, how dare I create a situation out of something purely coincidental.

(By the way, I wish those sorts of odds would play into my favor tonite when I buy my lottery tix!!)

So I decide I've gotta give them the benefit of the doubt. Like I mentioned before, I am not the first or last artist to paint or run my business or even design my blog in a particular way. So how dare I claim to own something as transient as a compositional idea or business concept? Lots of people come up with the same ideas given different circumstances and experiments - that's why we have the word "coincidence," right? (Of course there's also the word "sarcasm" but that's another story)

So I asked this artist who's work was so similar to mine specifically about their inspiration. I was curious if they travelled the same path as I or did they stumble across their ideas in a different fashion. How did we both end up with the same results inside a different time frame and given different scenarios?

It wasn't much of a shocker to learn that inspiration wasn't even remotely part of this person's process. They openly admitted to copying my artwork.

And marketing their copied paintings as their own original art.

And using tracings of my paintings in workshops they taught.

They couched their actions behind a lame excuse.

Which led me to recall that other saying about the dullest crayon in the box. Because there is no way I believe a working artist does not know it is illegal to copy and present someone else's work as their own. First of all, we learn in Kindergarten not to copy from our classmates. And then somewhere down the line we learn about copyright law.

So this person has promised to delete their copies of my paintings and remove derivative course content from their site. They have fallen over themselves repeating "sorries" that frankly sound hallow to my ears. And they've pledged to post a blog update and share something on Facebook about what they've learned from this situation.

Myself, I have serious doubts that my artwork is the only copy-catted art on their site.

I also have no means of policing that they won't choose imitation over inspiration another time. 

Or of trusting that this isn't happening on 100 other websites exactly at this moment in time.

I can't help but think what a sad scenario, to be given talent but not the faith or personal conviction to exercise it. I am so grateful that, no matter my own burdens, I am not in their shoes, nor will I ever be.

Off to my easel to follow some inspiration of my own making,


What Was Going Down on the Easel While I was Pondering

This is a 16" x 20" panel, the latest in my Saratoga Series of paintings, created from photos I took during my summer sojourns at the track.

These are just some of the images I shared via Facebook yesterday. You are welcome to comment about my process or progress or lack thereof over there!!

And thanks in advance!!

Near the end of the night, I decided that the light green silks on the jockey were too close in color and value to the background, and painted them purple. That was the beginning of my struggles with finishing this one and dragging this piece deep into "The Uglies."

Can I save it? I hope so. Today.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012



"Maiden," from The Saratoga Series, 9" x 11", acrylic on museum quality panel, available to the first one asking nicely for $469. Inquiries may come to me.

This is a piece I began back in 2010 with great intentions, but I got intimidated. I set it aside, waiting for divine intervention to step up and help me finish. Divine intervention never arrived, but with the accumulated miles of a few years' work under my brush, I was able to pull it together and sign off yesterday.

My biggest challenge was controlling the level of detail in the horses and using that as one of my primary factors in building depth of field. And my original painting had some major proportion and drawing errors (of which I hopefully corrected!!).

In process photos of the piece's recent progress can be viewed on the studio's Facebook page


Apologies in advance to all the Painting a Dog a Day fans who are not horse peeps. This week I am tweaking and touching up new paintings, primarily racing scenes, in preparation for shipping a body of work to Spa Fine Art in Saratoga Springs, New York (home of Saratoge Racetrack).

That means you'll be seeing more equine work come off my easel. And what makes it to the blog will be just a fraction of what's been happening in the studio.

I'll do my best to squeeze in a dog or two, though, by the week's end.
Thanks for following along and sharing my paintings,


I am happy to make affordable, quality reproductions available from any of my paintings - just ask.
Image Piracy

Friend and fellow artist Kathi Peterslearned that someone had lifted a particular photo from her (Kathi's) studio Facebook page and was getting a print on canvas made.**

Yes technology makes it possible to lift images from websites, and all it takes is a little savvy to go a step further and print them out. But that doesn't mean it's ethical - as a matter of fact, it's against the law.

Stealing images off the internet and paying a company in China to make a cheap print because that better suits your budget is an insult, on top of being illegal. And it denies us working artists the opportunity to support our families via artwork sales.

Instead, connect with us. Send an email or make a phone call.

We are human, many of us living within a budget just like you. We also know exactly what it's like to covet something absolutely beautiful that might fall outside our realm of affordable.

Ultimately artists want our art to find homes and we are happy to work with you, whether it's purchasing an original or ordering an American made (and artist-sanctioned) reproduction or finding something else that fits your budget.

**For the record, Kathi confronted the individual, educated them on copyright, and stopped the piracy. And now that you are informed, you can do the same thing too!

KK Santini, 346 N Anderson, Lake Orion, Mi, 48362 USA,

Monday, March 26, 2012

April Desktop Calendar




Have you been enjoying the monthly desktop calendars built from my favorite Painting a Dog a Day pieces? I hope so!!

To implement, simply download the calendar file directly from my website. I've set up a couple different ways to do this, either via the photo album or a direct link.

I am by no means an expert on the variety of operating systems, so I highly recommend that if you don't know how to change your desktop wallpaper, don't email me for advice. Instead consult your computer's help files - they will be more concise, more knowledgeable and more responsive than I could ever hope to be. 

April is sized to fit a standard screen height of 768 - I realize there are lots of variables that could impact how this file displays on your screen. Let me know if, once you get the file installed, there are display quality issues (keep in mind, too, that options such as "stretching to fit," "tiling" and "cropping" will impact your display, so check those first!).
Meanwhile, enjoy!!! 
All my best,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Huxley, A Painted Sketch

"Huxley," a painted sketch, image sized approximately 4" x 7" on an 8" x 10" paper, commissioned portrait of an Australian Shepherd headed to a private collection (THANK YOU!). Inquiries may come to me.

In process photos of this painting can be viewed on the studio's Facebook page



We've got a crazy busy couple of days ahead - drumline practice, dance class, two State Solo and Ensemble performances, a drumline competition, a journalling workshop, a couple hours of volunteer work, two sleepovers, hmmm, what else?

Oh yeah! tickets to The Hunger Games. Tonite! I can't wait!

Hope everyone has a great weekend, no matter their plans,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Knead You


"Knead You," 8" x 10", acrylic on museum quality panel, available to the first one asking nicely for $499; returning collectors pay only $449. Inquiries may come to me.

In process photos of this painting can be viewed on the studio's Facebook page



I've painted Coco and Puff before. And their little dog, too.

Funny story about the dog - when I first met Coco about 9 years back she was just a kitten, newly enamored of this little stuffed toy from a Happy Meal. However, said doggie was hidden in a secret spot when our photo shoot was scheduled, so I didn't get to meet him. When he re-materialized the next day, my client tucked him into my mailbox.

However, she didn't know we had moved across town days prior, and I never got the message that the dog was in there waiting for me.

A good amount of time went by before we put two and two together. It was quite a conversation when I showed up unannounced on my old stoop.

"Did you by chance find a tiny stuffed dog in your mailbox? You did?! oh fantastic! Do you still have him? You see, he belongs to this cat. Well, not my cat, but this other cat. Although I suppose it would help if I introduced myself - I used to live here......"

Yes, the dog was recovered, and yes, he is still cherished, as you can see.

Thanks for following along and sharing my paintings,


Reference Photo

A client turned friend (or was it friend turned client? details are foggy on anything happening longer ago than yesterday) sent me this adorable photo from her iPhone. Well actually she sent a mess of photos but this one I just couldn't resist.

I made some conscious changes between the photo and my painting. That's the beauty of being an artist - I can manipulate references to create something entirely different.

I wanted a focal point that ran in a slight diagonal across the center of the panel, so I shifted the dog down and to the left. See the zig zag his body creates between the extended leg and kitty profile? That's intentional to anchor that area/line as my focal point.

I cropped in tightly so that the negative space in the reference photo on the lower left wasn't a distraction. I also changed the value of the blanket so that it wasn't the lightest part of the painting.

I removed the darker blanket at Puff's head. Her face had to be the darkest dark.

And I extended Coco's paw, accenting that kneading action. After all, that's what inspired the title.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012



"Curl," 6" x 8", acrylic on museum quality panel, available for $329. Inquiries may come to me.

In process photos of this painting can be viewed on the studio's Facebook page



Does anyone remember Curl, one of the Dragon Slayer contestants from this past summer? His is a face destined to grace many a painting.

I had a blast painting today - Curl's face on the easel coupled with the company of The Princess, who had the day off school. She worked in her journal, finessing this weekend's kids journalling lesson (puppet affirmations created with stencils and collage). We also belted out quite a bit of Adele and ate oreos and mango (an odd, yet delightfully satisfying, combination).

We are off to ballet class shortly - so that she can sweat at the barre while I sweat over my gesture drawings of the ballerinas.

Meanwhile, I hope you have a fantastic evening!

Thanks for following along and sharing my paintings,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


"Patches," 10" square, commissioned portrait of a shepherd mix, acrylic on museum quality panel, private collection (THANK YOU!). Inquiries may come to me.

In process photos of this painting can be viewed on the studio's Facebook page

(And for the record, any of you who can see a line seeimingly traced across Patches face, that is just residual from Photoshop piecing multiple scans together - it is not really on the painting!)



Patches was a quiet and pensive guy, the happiest when he was at his "boy's" side. Which he was, pretty much every moment he could be. Over the course of 14 years, they were only apart about 20 days.

And now Patches' painting will grace his "boy's" home.

They find a way to stay with us, in our hearts and stories, in our dreams, and if we are lucky, in photographs and artwork.

It was an honor to paint Patches' memory for his family,

Monday, March 19, 2012


Blame it on the sunshine. Or the poor night's sleep I got. Or the outstanding news I received this morning (keep on reading).

Whatever the reason, I have little to no concentration and am flitting from one thing to another in the studio.

Tomorrow I will buckle down.

But meanwhile, I'll share some of Kiki Kelly's recent works. They are always fun to look at (at least I think so), and they all sorta connect with the reasons why I'm so distracted today.

Kiki doesn't have a website up, but notecards and reproductions of her work can be ordered here.

Happy Monday to you all!

"Applause," 11" x 14", multi media piece stemming from a community celebration surrounding good books and even better readers (read more below, but consider yourself warned - it's a Mom Brag)
"In Like a Lion," 11" x 14", multi media piece inspired by the bipolar weather patterns March 2012 presented Michiganders
"Valentine," 11" x 14", multi media piece comprised of ephemera collected on Valentine's Day 2012


The Word Nerds, The Princess is in white, 2nd from the right.
The 37th Annual Battle of the Books

The Battle is a rite of passage here in Lake Orion. Every year, scads of 5th graders from our district read scads of books and then answer scads of questions slung at them by our lovely librarians, all for the priviledge of reigning as Battle of the Books champions.

The Princess and her friends, duly dubbed the "Word Nerds" for their love of candy AND reading, tackled the Battle challenge with gusto this last November. They studied a challenging list of 15 titles, meeting weekly after school to discuss the plots, play games, and eat candy.

Along with 50 other teams, they spent this past Saturday holed up doing battle.

The Word Nerds answered 48 of 50 questions correctly, a very respectable score indeed, one that was celebrated accordingly with ice cream and green beverages.

When fact checking afterwards, one Word Nerd discovered a discrepancy, and challenged the librarians on that point, resulting in the question being disqualified, and giving her team a revised score of 49 out of 50. This is the first time in the history of the Battle that the librarians had been one-upped.

But it doesn't end there.

The Word Nerds tied for first place, ironically with classmates and best friends. 

When they heard the news this afternoon, the entire 5th grade erupted into applause and hugs for everyone. The biggest congratulations were between the two teams and their members.

There's a Tiebreaker Battle at our local library tonite. Think good thoughts for both teams - here's to them continuing to do their best, not just tonite, but every day afterwards.

And if you want to know what they read, the list is right here. Every single one of the books is excellent!

Props to the Word Nerds - I couldn't be prouder of what you've accomplished!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Little Mackinaw Gallery

"Sigh," just one of a handful of my original paintings on hand at Mackinaw Island's newest gem, Mackinaw's Little Gallery. Gallery opens in May 2012. Inquiries may come togallery staff.



I am absolutely delighted to announce that Mackinaw Island's newest business, Mackinaw's Little Gallery, will be representing my artwork this coming season.

The gallery sits on Market Street in the heart of this charming island, a place steeped in history, a slower paced lifestyle, spectacular landscape and carriage horses (cars are not allowed on the island).

The space will open in May with an international collection of equine and animal themed work. MLG will add to the community's festivals and events by inviting artists (myself included) for live paints, demonstrations, and classes/workshops.

Perhaps I'll get a chance to see you there?

Fingers and toes crossed,

A spread from my journal titled "Pirouette", done during one of The Princess's dance classes and inspired by the music and movement and smiling faces of her classmates.

grownUPs Journalling

We meet on the 3rd Thursdays of every month, and today is the day! 6-8pm at Little Monsters in Downtown Lake Orion.

Tonite we'll be working in layers using water media, an approach perfectly suited for creating backgrounds. Journallers can also continue to build up layers of marks, creating a finished page.

Come join us! All you need is a journal (or some blank paper!).

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