Pet Portraits

Caroline Quinn brings your pet to life on canvas
Story By Carla Edstrom photos by Caroline Quinn
I have always loved animals and have continually had a pet or two or four in my family since I can remember. Being an animal lover and a closet cat whisperer, my family jokes that I must have a sign above my house that says Cats Welcome because I am always finding a cat that needs help. I have never gone to adopt a cat. They just show up.

Even as a child, stray cats would come to me. When I got married, it was no different, but when my husband really wanted to get a dog, off we went to see yellow lab puppies. Michael picked up the only girl pup and instantly fell in love. The breeder told us she was born on November14th, which is Michael’s birthday, so of course we had to take her home. Two years later, I adopted Sally from the vet clinic I worked at. She was little red merle Australian Shepherd puppy with one blue eye someone found on the side of the road. So Lucy and Sally were our girls for almost 15 years when they both died within 3 months of each other. Being utterly devastated after Sally died suddenly, I was presented a painting of my two girls that my dear friend and artist Katrina Fairbanks painted for me. It was one of the most amazing things anyone ever gave me and it hangs in our home and the girls will forever watch over us.
Life long North Carolina resident and two-dimensional artist Caroline Quinn understands the love and companionship of owning pets first hand. She has always been an animal lover and pet owner, and that affection is obvious in her watercolor pet portraits. Whether it’s a beloved family dog or cat, or a horse grazing out in a pasture, she amazingly captures the details and personality of the animal in each portrait. “I love drawing and painting animals especially horses,” she said. Pet portraits are her favorite subjects and she started painting them by accident. “My sister requested a portrait of her dog, then her daughter wanted one, then her daughter’s friends, and then from there it took off,” she explained.
According to Quinn, she has always had pets but mostly cats. “When we moved to St. James, we had a sheltie who we loved dearly. He was very old and died a year after we moved. And we still have a horse, Jupiter,” she said. “He is in a horse retirement home in Pittsboro, NC where he gets great care.” Quinn said that since he is their pet they would care for him for the rest of his life. Her love and knowledge of horses is deep rooted, as she is an equine and horseracing enthusiast, which is the subject of many of her paintings. She also has over 20 years of horse mom experience. “Our daughter started riding at 6 and was a very serious hunter/jumper,” she said. “I miss the horse shows but I don’t miss getting up at 4 am!” Also a thoroughbred-racing fan, Quinn has visited many racetracks and thoroughbred farms first hand throughout Lexington, Kentucky. The paintings she does of horses are mostly from photographs she has taken, as well as her coastal landscape paintings.
Quinn attended Davidson College for her undergraduate and UNC-Chapel Hill for her graduate degree. Her artistic talents immerged while she was attending Davidson College where she had studied studio art with Douglas Houchens. It was there that she was studied 19th century painting and Gothic architecture in France. “I was very artistic. I loved drawing and painting,” said Quinn. But her focus shifted when her parents encouraged her to change her career path. So, she studied urban design at the School of City and Regional Planning at UNC, which eventually led to her career in Information Technology and Software Engineering. “My technical career edged out my creative side for 35 years. But since I have been retired, the creative side of my brain has re-awakened, thank goodness! I consider myself a true artist now so I guess you could say this is my second career.”
Not only does she love painting pet portraits, Quinn also finds artistic inspiration in the beautiful coastal sunsets and the landscape we enjoy here in Brunswick County. “I don’t paint outside (yet) but I always have my iPhone,” she explained. That way she can take pictures and paint the scenes later. “I live on a large pond and some days I just sit and watch the beautiful birds (herons, egrets, ibises, ducks) all day. A resident of St. James, she is able to watch the beautiful wildlife daily and gather inspiration for her painting just sitting in her backyard. Quinn is thrilled to be back creating art since that was one of her goals for her retirement. I hope to see more of her beautiful work in the future.
You can find her paintings at the Franklin Square Gallery in Southport and the Artisans Gallery in St. James at the marina. To commission a portrait from Quinn, you can contact her directly by email at . Her website is .




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