Portrait Artist Leah Knecht Creates Souvenirs for Life

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

While the digital industry has changed the way we capture moments and preserve memories of our loved ones, a number of us still appreciate the warmth and expressiveness of classic paintings.

Leah Knecht, an artist who commissions work from all over the country, offers clients a more personal memorial of their pets and loved ones through her exemplary work.

Knecht’s portraits were inspired by her two dogs.  After seeing how cathartic the process was for her, she realized that she should use her talents to extend to others the comfort she feels from immortalizing their pets through her art.

Knecht says, “I’ll do people with their pets a lot. Whatever someone wants, however they want to be portrayed, that’s what I’ll do.”

She explains of her process, “I work from photos. I use one photo for reference for the main pose, but I like to have additional photos [as a] different color reference, because it’ll change from photo to photo. So the more photos I get, the better.”

Additionally, Knecht explains, “I do combine pets and people together, add backgrounds. I work very closely with my clients usually, so that they get what they want to see, how they want their pet or their friend or their loved one portrayed.”

But more than just portraits, Knecht’s process is more personal because she takes her time actually getting to know her subjects. She notes, “I always ask for [a client] to describe the personality and the background of the animal or person because somehow, it does get into the work.”

When it comes to the technical aspect, however, she says that her paintings are “all hand painted in oils, and oils are a little slower. There’s a process. And I’ll paint it until I’m happy with it and the clients are happy with it.  I feel like I almost get to know the pet. They almost come alive to me. So hopefully that comes out in the portrait!”

While digital cameras and video cameras give us instant gratification, paintings express sentiment and can serve as a memorial for a lost loved one. Knecht points out that about 40% of her clients have had their pets pass, which is why they come to her.

“To them, having a portrait is almost like having the pet back with them because if it’s on their wall, they see it every day,” she explains.  “A photo is just a split second representation of a person or animal, where [in] a portrait I can combine many different [elements].”

Knecht says “oil paintings last centuries and photos fade,” which is why the art is alive to this day. She welcomes her clients to make appointments for consultations, track progress, and see her portfolio at her studio, while other clients may opt to correspond through email.

Leah Knecht and Classic Pet Portraits can be reached at (626) 644-8081, and leah@classicpetportraits.com. For more information on how to commission a portrait, please visit www.classicpetportraits.com.

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