"Jessie" by Julie Rustad
“Jessie” by Julie Rustad

Painting someone’s beloved dog is like painting a person. I was honored to paint a portrait of Bonnie and Fred’s golden mix, Jessie! I’ve met her a few times when I’ve been to their house in Mesa, AZ.

Here’s how I painted her!

Jessie on the Computer

Step 1) Bonnie had sent photos of their dog, Jessie. I chose the one that I thought best captured her sweet expression and face. Since I was planning on using a 12×12 gallery wrapped canvas,  I cropped the image to work in this square format. I also adjusted the levels in the photo.

Step 2) The next part is fun and fluid. I use a fairly large brush and draw her face using paint. I move fast and use just a few colors to really define her shape and color.

Step 3) I defined her eyes, nose and used a darker mix of a blue/purple hue to do this.


Step 4) I thought that Jessie was looking too pale and ghostly in Step 3, so I used warmer yellows and oranges to bring back the life into her face. I added smaller strokes to mimic her beautiful golden-red hair.


I really enjoyed painting Jessie, but I was even more excited to see Fred’s reaction…

Fred sees the painting of Jessie
Fred sees the painting of Jessie
Fred reacts to the painting
Fred reacts to the painting
Jessie likes the painting too
Jessie likes the painting too!

Fred sent me this message “Hey Julie, Oh My God! Your painting of Jessie has brought tears to my eyes! THANK YOU SO MUCH! You have NO IDEA what this means to me (Bonnie too). Thank you Thank you!”


I am looking to be commissioned for more paintings. Please let me know if you know someone who would love a painting of their loved one!

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