Three years ago, Jill Damron of Gainesville retired from teaching language arts at East Hall High School and pursued a new endeavor — painting pet portraits.
“I love animals, especially dogs,” Damron said, gesturing to her paintings of different canine breeds. “I probably worked for a year on painting almost nothing but watercolor dogs after I retired.”
Growing up around her father, who was a skilled artist, Damron said she developed a passion for painting, drawing and crafting. When she left teaching, she began taking formal art classes and “fell back in love with it.”
And when a space on the second floor of Main Street Market in Gainesville became available, Damron decided to seize the opportunity and become a full-time artist.
“I just said, OK, enough sitting around — go for it,” Damron said.
Over the past year, the artist has painted pet portraits and held craft workshops for customers.
“I want a place that’s filled with people, where you can come by and have open studio time,” she said.
For custom portraits, Damron asks that people send her several images of their pet, ideally taken straight on, at the animal’s eye level. She said all creatures are welcome, even iguanas.
The watercolor paintings are $150 for an 8-by-10-inch portrait and $200 for the 11-by-14-inch option. People can buy a T-shirt with the image for an extra $30.
All custom painting requests can be done at damronstudios.com. Damron said she will take around a week to finish the piece of art, then send a photo of it to the customer. They can ask for modifications, if needed, before picking up the painting or having it mailed to them.
Damron said many of her portraits are commissioned for those who have lost a beloved pet. As an owner of five dogs and a cat, the artist said she understands the importance of honoring their memory.
“One of my dogs is Wallace,” Damron said. “When you can look at Wallace who passed away last year, you’ll have that forever. I’ve had people cry, and a lot of times people will give a memorial portrait as a gift.”
By holding seasonal workshops at her studio, Damron fuels both her zest for crafting and educating. Throughout August and September, she intends to teach classes on fall-related crafts like making fabric-covered pumpkins, nail polish pumpkins and paper book pumpkins. The workshops range from $25-$30 and include guided instruction and all materials.
People can reach out to Damron to visit her studio, use her supplies and enjoy other types of crafts like needle felting, quilling and more. She also hosts private groups for parties and other events.
“You have someone who can show you the way (to pursue a new hobby), and you don’t have to spend a ton of money,” Damron said. “I love teaching, I guess that’s what it really boils down to.”
For questions about the artist’s offerings, email Damron at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 678-343-7671.