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About Portraits by Colleen




C olleen Rudolf has a background in sculpture, photography, painting, drawing and is a hopeful explorer of new media. Born 1981 in New York City, Colleen earned her undergraduate degree from Skidmore College in 2003 with departmental honors in Fine Art. After three years of traveling and working in various fields, she decided to focus on her creative work by pursuing a graduate degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Upon graduating in 2008, she was awarded the Fellowship Juried Prize honorable mention and the Justine Cretella Memorial Scholarship. As of 2011, Colleen quit her day job and currently works out of her studio in Philadelphia, dividing her time between her portrait business and other creative projects.”


I began making the shelter dog portraits after grad school as a way to keep my hand and eye working together. During my time at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, I volunteered at the PSPCA (Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) photographing the shelter dogs and uploading their images and bios onto petfinder.com. I've always been drawn to the forms and expressions of dogs, so I started drawing and painting from the hundreds of photographs I had taken. Feeling overwhelmed by the endless stream of new canine faces and personalities that arrived at the shelter daily, I determined that energy and intention to facilitate long term placement for the shelter residents is necessary. The portraits help to honor these dogs and call attention to their situation and demeanor; that I saw them valuable enough to paint might make others start to pay attention to them too.

I find the relationship between human and canine to function as a product of more expansive topics such as evolution, behavioral and cognitive science and cross species communication and adaptation. The shelter dog is of particular interest because of its resilience and innocence, their existence testament to a human capacity for compassion as well as negligence.

Given the positive response I've received from viewers of the shelter dog portraits, I challenged myself to discover the same intrigue in subjects nominated by others. I will always be drawn to animals as their way of being helps keep me attentive. The two dogs that I live with have taught me to notice things about myself and remind me how to go outside and enjoy the moment.

A large motivation for PortraitsByColleen is to facilitate and encourage education about dog behavior. It is through understanding and compassion that we can truly honor the spirit of all other creatures.

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