Zann Hemphill of Paws By Zann. (Courtesy Zann Hemphill)

Zann Hemphill of Paws By Zann. (Courtesy Zann Hemphill)

All About Pets: Jump on the pet portrait wagon

Artists specialize in commemorating furry family members

We love decorating our homes and offices with pictures of loved ones, so why shouldn’t images of beloved pets be displayed as well?

Since the pandemic, people have felt a more intense appreciation for their pets. Maybe it’s because we are valuing them more for emotional and mental health support or maybe it’s their loyal companionship, but whatever the reason, a commissioned custom portrait immortalizing our four-legged family members is a huge and growing trend.

In this final instalment of the Peninsula News Review’s All About Pets series, three award-winning Vancouver Island pet artists will be profiled – Jaz Grenier of Vanity Pet Studio in Victoria; Zann Hemphill of Paws By Zann; and Stephanie McColl, an animal intuitive and artist in North Saanich. No matter what your taste or style, these artists can capture your pet’s spirit like it was meant to be showcased, in all its glorious and sometimes goofy beauty.

McColl is a self-taught artist on the Saanich Peninsula who has been drawing since she was a teenager. She derives much of her inspiration from nature and observing animals and people. McColl uses a variety of methods, materials and mediums to capture a pet’s spirit, beauty and sense of playfulness in a portrait.

Along with creating portraits, McColl is an animal intuitive (also known as an animal communicator). An animal intuitive offers a unique method of bridging the gap of understanding between people and their pets – or any other animal. With this unique ability, McColl has been assisting animals and their owners to better understand one another through telepathy and energy work for more than 20 years. She has worked with pet stores, veterinarians, farm animals and hundreds of pets and their owners. While McColl is not a veterinarian, she can assist in areas such as health, nutrition, behaviour, emotional well-being, identifying why a certain challenge may be occurring, and support around a pet’s passing.

Grenier has a solid foundation in photography and art. A passionate, lifelong animal lover herself, she has turned her considerable ability into a small business – Vanity Pet Studio. She particularly loves the challenge of photographing and painting animals with black coats. In fact, she recently won the prestigious Portrait Masters Award. The subject of that piece was a handsome black lab on a black background.

Hemphill, a graduate of Emily Carr University, has been drawing and painting animals since she was a child. As of 2014, she has been painting professionally out of her home studio in Lantzville, where she crafts detailed custom portraits of pets for local and international clients. Hemphill uses traditional oil-on-canvas techniques from photos that pet owners provide her.

Her portraits are highly regarded for their striking realism and depth, capturing a lively likeness in the expression and features of her subjects.

Hemphill’s work with dogs and cats is particularly well-known and has been featured in many local art shows and galleries.

No matter how much time we have with a beloved pet, it’s never enough. Cherished animals, including those who’ve passed away, will always remain in our hearts and memories, so it makes sense to commemorate them with a beautiful portrait which can be displayed in our home.

What a great way to honour the memory of a furry family member, as well as to remember the joy and love they brought to our lives.

READ MORE: All About Pets: Not all dogs fill the same role


Do you have a story tip? Email:

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

PetsSaanich Peninsula

Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up