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Excerpt to my Quest Blog, “Animal Art Therapy”

A Story of How I decided I wanted to Draw Pet Dogs as a Career 

A portrait of a little girl with her best buddy-bulldog as a nostalgic reference to my childhood days with my pet dog.

My early childhood

As far as I could remember, drawing has always brought inexplicable comfort, peace, and joy to me. Even as a child living in the “British Malayan Era” among members of 2 extended families, ours and my Eldest Uncle’s whom my 5 elder sisters and I ( I had been the youngest) call “Dai Bak”, brought with it quite a bit of angst for me. Family intrigues, bullying from one of the boys, jousting for favors from our very correct Grandmother from Hong Kong, had been part of growing up. 

My Dad, my hero 

Drawing with my dad very early on equipped me a lot in dealing with my young pressures. Even though we did not know the name for it then, Art (Therapy) gave me inexplicable strength and tenacity to move forward, ignoring the distractions (even when that young) to enjoy and excel in drawing with my Dad….alright it started with doodling, with my dad holding my chubby little hand! Dad believed so much in me and my budding inclinations. I could doodle my yellow pupper with (odd-shaped anatomy) long before I could memorize my A, B, C’s and I also remembered that I still couldn’t count then. So I drew small banana bunches for “fingers”! And in my Primary (Elementary) 2, I was already drawing pictures of princesses with tiaras and poufy gowns studded with diamonds and gemstones for my eager little girly classmates. The popularity I got made up a great part for the loneliness in my childhood days. 

My dog, my bestie

A yellow dog portrait, a reminder of my Bobby-dog who was my childhood companion

Also, the other turning point in my young life was when a little yellow puppy was introduced. I named him, “Bobby”. I practically grew up with Bobby. He was my “muse”, my companion, the one to go to when I needed a safe warm retreat. Animal Art actually began for me at that spot in my life. I think I was between 6-7 years old. 

Through all my young life otherwise, doing art has given me the therapy of cultivating a better self-awareness, reliable emotional well-being, safer comfort zones where I could face my emotional conflicts, raise my confidence, protected my self-esteem, and helped me cope and focus on my schooling and family life. The latter, as a result, I could summarily say, had been quite a happy one! 

As I grew older, I learned firsthand, how life can turn out for those who relied on art as a coping mechanism in the often difficult process of growing up. 

The seeds of an UpStart: TOFU DOGART

It took me another few years after having embarked on a professional architectural profession and 20 years as a Fashion Illustrator before I decided to fully involve myself in a new career as a Pet Portrait Artist. 

A Pet Portrait of the Prince George and Princess Charlotte of the Royal Family and the Queen's favorite corgi

I started my new business, “TOFU DOG ART”, a pet portrait business, in 2018.

I daresay I have benefitted much from the deep-dived passion that I have given to Illustration.  This altruistic “giving” back to my dog-loving clients has brought me much joy and satisfaction.

I have contributed to collaborations with dog shelters (right now mainly in the US) to help them in their funding. I have an interest in and donated to the non-profit dog and their homeless owner’s welfares. Like the Feed the Pets of the Homeless, NV. I am active in interest groups like the LIGHTBULB UK, a meeting place for the media and entrepreneurs like myself, and also am a full member of the Dog Writers of America Association_ US  (DWAA_US). I am a faith-driven individual who hopes to change this world we live in, one untiring brushstroke at a time. 

A fashion-cum-Pet Portrait of an attractive lady with her dog, Rascal

My work has often given my customers double-takes, made them teary-eyed, or have the corners of their mouths turn up, when they see my work of them, even though half-done. I find that my art has a blessed gift of mending broken hearts, imbued with the chic-ness allowing my dog moms to aspire to be as savvy as they appear to be in their portraits.  They try, and that is quite sufficient for me and my objective.  The most recent response came from a retired Military Personnel: “I’m in tears…….your work is breath-taking…..!”            

I know that every time my customers get to gaze on their trendy portraits, they will be glad they have something positive to look up to, possibly with a renewed desire for positive change in their lives. In doing so I do hope to draw them back into the loving arms of our divine Creator, who is the unending, inexhaustible source of all comfort, love, acceptance, forgiveness hope and joy.  

Next to come: How I incorporate my 2 loves: PETS & FASHION into a brand-new Category of Pet Portrait, namely: The “FASHION-INFUSED” Pet Portraits of TOFU DOGART, very probably first of its kind in the pet art business world.

       ____________________________END__________________________                               

Excerpt from my Guest Blog published 10 July 2021 for Sarah-Jane White 

Animal Behaviourist & Enrichment Expert. Advice, games & DIY Ideas – Top UK Pet Blog 2021- Editor@rufflesnuffle.co.uk   

My Website for my Pet Portrait Gallery: Https://CharCoalTofu-DogArt.com/ 

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