Best Furry Friends

Pet Portraits by Diana 

It begins with a search for the ‘soul’ of the
beloved Fur-ball before me…

…delving into their eyes (& the occasional chewed toy or soggy tennis ball) & exploring their heart. Sharing the stories told by 'their’ human/s’ & to piece together a portrait of ‘who’ they are before I even begin to attempt to capture a piece of their great big, squishy, adoring & loyal hearts on canvas.


Hello, I'm Diana...

So - about me… Probably because I was raised in a household that welcomed everything from pet mice, turtles, cats, dogs, axolotyls, fish, guinnea pigs & even a horse (thank you for all that Mum & Dad) I have been around & loved animals all my life.

I began exploring the world of Art back in 1993 with full time {mostly life} painting & have filled the years since with tonnes of both ‘official’, and 'self directed' learning. I guess you could say I am a (very happy) eternal student of both life & art, loving every bit of my learning path along the way. I threw a Bachelor of Design (Spatial) & Dip Interior Design in the mix along with numerous other bits & bobs in the following few years. 

Passionate about all things Arty, I painted solely in oils for 25 odd years before discovering the versatility & freedom of Acrylics & Mixed Media and fell madly in love. Today I work with any media (except oils) I can get my hands on. 

2013 - I discovered I loved teaching after I 'filled in' a teaching role at the Design & Arts College resulting in me staying on until...
2016 - Decided I loved teaching so much I built my ‘boutique' Art School - Discoveries.
2017 - I got a bit of cancer which resulted in a massive (& very positive) change in my art which was such a gift. (Wrapped up in broken glass and razor wire to be fair - but it was there :-)
This was the beginning of my ‘Bloomin Landscapes’ series which I am totally loving & not planning on finishing anytime soon. Then, in...
2018, I launched ‘Best Furry Friends’, a venture 19 years in the making... 

Best Furry Friends began with Doby Dog... 

He was gentle & fun, intelligent & wise. He was my protector, my confidant, my friend for 11 wonderful years. On the day he was to leave us, we took him to his favourite Sumner Beach one last time...

He loved to run & bark and meet & greet anyone who would say hi to him. But this day was different - we knew it was to be his last.
We fed him chocolate, we hugged him lots, we laughed & cried (mostly cried) and prepared ourselves as best we could for what was to come. I took photos of him; I photographed his last ever footprints he would leave on that beach; I even took with me a handful of the sand he last walked on. (Sentimental sop - but I’m ok with that.)
We then brought him home for the last time. The vet met us at home and in our garden, on a beautiful May day in 1997, we said our final goodbyes.

To say I was heartbroken was an understatement. I thought I would never get over losing him. To help me begin to pick up the pieces, I drew pictures & planned an artwork I would paint one day when my crazy, busy life allowed me time to do the piece justice.
I was in my second year of my Spatial Design Degree & after that came numerous other courses & commitments I had piled on my plate. I then got married and had 2 more babies, spent time teaching & painting and as a result - it was a whopping 19 years (!) before I took Doby’s A2 envelope from the pile, blew off the dust, opened it and said hello to my beautiful friend once again. It was time.

I must admit I was a tad surprised….

that after all the time that had passed, when I looked at my finished piece, I felt myself tear up, at the same time feeling comfort in the timelessness of our connection that was still there. It felt good.
It felt good because I hadn't just painted a copy of a photo of him - I had immortalised a piece of our very own, personal story. 
I have enjoyed painting all sorts of Furry Friends over the years - both those that have made our home theirs - and those I have come to know through their human’s tales & images of them. But, it was time to stop painting just for myself & to share the love a bit.
So it took me 19 years (!) but finally - Best Furry Friends is launched. Yah!! (Apparently all good things take time :-)

So now I’m like a pig in mud. Because I am doing 3 things I totally love…
   Painting - Best Furry Friends - Forever Portraits
   Painting - Bloomin Landscapes (I’ve popped a few of these in at the end of this site.)
   Teaching Painting & Drawing - at my Boutique Art School, Discoveries - helping people discover their Inner Artist.

And with all 3 of my so-called ‘jobs’ being so fun & rewarding - I feel so fortunate, I sometimes feel guilty. 

Hangin' out in Akaroa...

Sister & Brother - but ‘chalk & cheese’…

Cassie, the ultimate ‘girly girl’, and Floyd, the 'chillest' puppy imaginable. 
Painted in a loose style with tonnes of texture and real chains supporting the swings they were enjoying time in. (There’s even Dad hiding in the background reading the newspaper.)
A time capsule of emotion & memories of a most wonderful day in their puppyhood. Lots of fun!
Diptych - Mixed Media. 30 x 20 cm each

Through thick & thin, good times & bad...

"They keep us honest, they keep us ‘real’…
Their ‘endless gift giving’ all part of the deal…

Walking beside us, lifting us up

showing no bounds to their endless love.


With a paw in our face or a ‘gifted’ dead rat

the endless love shown by our best dog or cat.
Greeted daily with their ‘Welcome homes!’;

their wagging tails; their soggy bones;

The broken heirlooms, the extra chores,

the chewed up toys on the bedroom floors;

The bath time battles without end;
to this day still, they are our friend.

‘Cos for everything they bend or break;

the 'table manners' they can forsake;
The chewing & chasing, the sniffing of butts,

sometimes they really can drive us nuts.

Till they sense that today we could do with a friend,

their ‘incorrigible lovingness’ knows no end…

They are loyal & loving right from the start,

each with their own great big, squishy heart.
They trust us & love us & give without fuss;
unconditional love for their human, that’s us.

So…
To capture their warmth, their essence, their heart

that special bond you shared from the start…
A ‘Forever Portrait’ of your Best Furry Friend

to have with you always, to the wall they ascend. 

Tweaked to embellish the tale to be told,
of your Best Furry Friend and their heart of pure gold." 

Diana xox

Because - I’m a rather greedy Artist with the attention span of a 2 year old...

 I need more than to simply copy photographs. And, although I greatly admire ‘realism’ - I would rather visit the dentist than spend all day painting 'realistic copies' of photos of people’s Furry Friends.” (Apologies to any dentists out there :-)
I DO use photos as reference material (pretty essential really) - but...
when I am commissioned to paint someone's Furry Soulmate…
I find myself embarking on an exciting, fun filled journey with twists & turns and often a dash of the unexpected thrown in.
It’s a journey charged with the need to get to know the beloved furball before me -
to discover their quirks, their habits, their likes & dislikes.

It is also a journey to discover what it is about them that makes you love them enough to have their Forever Portrait painted.

So, when painting your Best Furry Friend,
my ‘greedy need' takes over…
A need to tell a story in my painting that takes you back to a time & place,
A need to tell a story that ‘pings your heart strings’ when viewed;
A need to capture on canvas, the ‘essence’ of your BFF who left their pawprints on your heart.

Only when I achieve this - do I feel I have succeeded :-)


Testimonials:

"Crazy Cat. Love him to bits. Now I’ve got him for life."

James P - Luchi’s servant

Diana perfectly captured the spirit of our Doby dog in this gorgeous tribute to his memory, taken from an image of his last day at his favourite beach.
Her passion for art and family pets is clear.
I absolutely love the painting, and smile every time I see it.

Jacqui M - grew up with Doby Dog  

“Beautiful Mum - Beautiful."

Steve M - grew up with Doby Dog  

"Aw - You captured her personality perfectly! She's always got that "Look at me, I’m so pretty” thing going on. I love it!"

Janine B - Owner & best friend of Cassie

"Oh my gosh the painting is incredible!!!! It's amazing how it actually looks just like her. 😍😍😍.  Well done Di :) You are such a talent! We get so many compliments and people asking us where we got our painting done. Thanks."

Nikki C - Owner & never ending ball thrower for Luna

Pricing:

Medium

  • 35 x 46 cm (9 x 12”) = $595

  • 51 x 51 cm (20” x 20”) = $795

Large

  • 46 x 61 cm (18 x 24) = $895

  • 46 x 91 cm (18” x 36”) = $1295

Portrait Pricing & other info...

Your portrait: 
-  Can be painted in either Acrylics &/or Mixed Media - in either portrait or landscape format.
-  Portraits are finished in Artist quality UV varnish to protect your Artwork for years to come.
-  Canvases are professional quality with staple free edges, tidy corners and an attractive 35mm profile. Sizes are accurate to within 10mm. 
-  Edges are painted and Artwork is all set ready to hang or frame if you wish. 🤗 

Prices:
-  Above are the most common BFF Portrait sizes. Other sizes are available - please contact me for a quote. 
-  All prices are in New Zealand Dollars and include GST.
-  Pricing assumes a single BFF* will be making an appearance in your painting. If you wish to have a second (or third) BFF in the same painting - please contact me for a quote.
  (Only 1 BFF* can comfortably fit on the 300 x 400mm without things getting a tad squishy, so let’s not go there.) 
-  P&P - will depend upon the size of your BFF Portrait - and where in the world it is to be sent. I can include prices for this in your quote. 
-  I am more than happy for you to pick up by arrangement from my Christchurch Studio.

Commissioning a Portrait:
-  Information re the ordering process is outlined at the end of this site.

Commissioning your BFF* Portrait is so simple it’s silly 🤗:

STEP 1:     Use the ‘contact me’ bit below to flick off a quick email to me :-) No commitment - no obligation.
I will call soon after and you, me & your BFF can get to know each other a little bit. 

STEP 2:     Email photo/s of your BFF & answers to the questions on my ‘Info & Insights’ sheet which will help you, help me get to know your Furball a bit more. (It’s all furry good stuff.:-)  

STEP 3:     Second consultation: After pondering for around a week, I will contact you to discuss my concept for your BFF Portrait including ideas for cropping, inclusions (a favourite toy etc) and exclusions (dog poo in background) . This is when we make sure we are on the same page with concept, timeline & pricing before I begin painting.
 
STEP 4:     If you wish to proceed, a deposit of 25% is due to secure your place in my painting schedule. My contract at this time includes “Diana’s Happiness (no risk) Guarantee” to remove any risk on your part.

STEP 5:     Signing off Proof: I will email you a proof of your Artwork and give you the opportunity to suggest any small tweaks you would like. After any tweaks are made - you are either… 
Unhappy: If you think your ‘Forever Portrait' of ‘Fluffy’ look more like a pug than a poodle - I will cancel the sale & refund your deposit. (I like the ‘zero risk’ thing.) Or…
Happy: (Yah!) And proceed to the final step…

STEP 6: After confirmation that you are happy with your portrait and final payment is received, your painting will be packaged & couriered - or available for pickup from my Christchurch studio . 😁

Target time from ‘order confirmation to wall': 4 weeks. (Possibly longer in busy times.)

Diana’s Happiness Guarantee

If you are not truly happy with your BFF Portrait, 
simply return it for a full refund of your purchase price.

'Happiness Guarantee’ fine print:
Freight and p&p excluded.
Painting must be returned in new condition within 2 weeks of receiving it.

(Pretty basic ‘fine print’ but I’m not really into fine print.)    Diana 

My ‘Bloomin’ Landscapes’...

So, it turns out that having a brush with Cancer has had it’s upside for your’s truly. Back in June 2017, I found I had a bit of kidney cancer going on and so in the resulting whirlwind - I ended up minus a kidney but so very, very appreciative for this life I have been gifted.
Another interesting thing happened with my Art...

Post recovery, I had a very strong need to paint flowers. Beautiful, 'Diana-ified’ flowers that leaned toward abstraction - that are full of colour & texture. (Yum!)  
Until this time, my Art tended to incorporate images with 'deep & meaningful' messages, symbolism etc. Through some pretty tough times, I had used art as a tool for self healing and personal discovery (and it was cheaper than therapy!). Then, all of a sudden - after one of the toughest times ever - I wanted all these images gone. So - into the attic they went and into my studio I limped - and I began my new forrage into the world of colour, texture & beauty. I call them - 'Bloomin Landscapes'. (I thought that sounded clever as I plan one day to wander into the landscape around my flowers - so I figure I am covering my bases :-)
Anyway - I’m happy. I’m painting beautiful flowers - and beautiful Best Furry Friends - & teaching Art to beautiful students. What more could a girl possibly want ?? (Apart from perhaps a trip to Europe :-)

BL-1710 - Magnolia

Colours, texture, form... yum :-)
Turns out to be one of my favourites and a nice way to end the year. Love the colours in this fella too :-)
Mixed Media, 91 x 61 cm

BL-1709 - Autumn Flower

Cearly inspired by BL-1702 (White Tulip) that is still a big favourite of mine for this series.
Love the colours and textures in this.
Mixed Media, 46 x 35 cm

BL-1707 - Pretty in Pink

This wee fella worked out beautifully. Very happy with it - as is it’s new owner. 
Mixed Media - 30 x 15 cm

BL-1702 - White Tulip

Godda say - I really do love this piece. It is lose and free with tonnes of texture and is painted over a piece that really needed to be painted over.
Mixed Media - 46 x 35 cm

BL-1703 - Beyond the Fence

This guy was tonnes of fun to paint. Interesting use of elements to create unexpected texture and forms contrasted with a loose, soft & free approach to painting the flowers. Again - a reincarnation of a previous work I wasn’t happy with. (If only people knew what was underneath some paintings!) 
Mixed Media, 35 x 46 cm

BL-1708 - Autumn

I loved the idea of playing with flowers and man made structures. There is something very cool about nature & humans co-existing until nature inevitably reclaims what is ultimately hers.
Nice ‘biggish’ painting that I think looks even better in the flesh than in the photo.
I was more than happy with the finished piece. There is lots of texture going on, I love the colours and the use of actual leaves intrigues me. :-)
Mixed Media, 61 x 91 cm

BL-1704 - Abstract Flower in White

Created over the top of another mixed I wasn't totally happy with. Again - I love what happened in, this my 4th piece in this ‘series’. Very cool colours, forms & textures. Lose, free and unemcumbered by expectations. Amazing fun :-)
Mixed Media, 35 x 45 cm

Contact Me:

Studio: 75 Grange Street, Opawa, Christchurch

Email: diana@bestfurryfriends.co.nz
Facebook: Best Furry Friends - Pet Portraits
Phone : +64 21 433 163

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Copyright

All artwork & written material on this website is protected by Copyright © 2018 by Diana Nicholson-Plank. All rights reserved.