MAN’S BEST FRIEND

Southern Indiana artist paints unique hand-crafted pet portraits

There are few gifts more personal than a unique, hand-crafted portrait of your favorite best friend, and Elaine Leidolf-Davis Paintings truly delivers.

Leidolf-Davis originally started pursuing art in high school and graduated from Ivy Tech with a degree in graphic design.

“I knew I wanted to do something where I could be creative in my job.  I’ve worked for the past 38 years doing graphic design, marketing, advertising and social media.”

– Elaine Leidolf-Davis

“I knew I wanted to do something where I could be creative in my job,” she said. “I’ve worked for the past 38 years doing graphic design, marketing, advertising and social media.”

Three years ago, after the passing of her father, a series of events led to Leidolf-Davis taking a few years off work. In the midst of Covid, she switched her focus to painting. 

Although she started in acrylic paints, Leidolf-Davis began taking classes and working in oil on canvas to have more blending ability.

“It’s a whole different medium — you have to use mineral spirits and other mediums,” she said. “I really liked that fact that I could paint and if I wanted to change it later I still could because it was wet enough. It gives me a little more control.”

She had originally painted horses, but after having a woman ask to paint a dog of hers, she found there was a real niche for pet portraiture.

She had originally painted horses, but after having a woman ask to paint a dog of hers, she found there was a real niche for pet portraiture.

“Ever since people saw that pet painting, it just blossomed,” she said. “I had finally found my niche.”

Since then, she’s developed her website and Facebook page and solidified her reputation as a pet portrait artist.

“In 2021, when everything opened up a bit, I thought, you know, I’m semi-retired, I’m just going to go to an art show and see what happens because I had quite a few paintings at that point,” she said. “I ended up selling about seven of them at one of these shows and I was so excited about it because I’d never done that before.”

Now, Leidolf-Davis attends about four big shows a year, including Big Four Bridge, Corydon Extravaganza, MountFest and the Belknap Neighborhood Art Show. The Big Four Arts Festival is taking place on Sept. 10 and 11 on the Louisville side of the Big Four Bridge.

Ever since participating in the art shows, her business has taken off. While she does general work and brings those pieces to shows, she is mostly focused on her large intake of commissions. At shows, she brings a variety and paints pets on location.

“When people see me paint on location, they stop in their tracks. There’s a lot of pet people out there. And I love to do it; it just comes easy to me. I do believe that God is guiding me in this.”

– Elaine Leidolf-Davis

“When people see me paint on location, they stop in their tracks. There’s a lot of pet people out there,” Leidolf-Davis said. “And I love to do it; it just comes easy to me. I do believe that God is guiding me in this.”

When working on a commission, all Leidolf-Davis needs is a clear image of the pet and then she takes care of getting the sketch done and painting the final product.

At project end, the customer receives a text with the image proof and then the canvas itself, ready to be framed or hung.

“When I send clients a text with the image of their pet, and they say ‘I love it’ or it brought them to tears … I’m thrilled. They are keepsakes,” Leidolf-Davis said. “I feel the paintings are a blessing for people to keep.”

She said she learns more and more with each painting in terms of finding tricks and techniques that work better than others.

“That’s the only way you’re going to learn, really,” Leidolf-Davis said. “I’ve never had formal training; I just paint what I see.”

You can catch Leidolf-Davis at one of her many fall art shows or on her business website – elaineleidolfdavis.com. You can also find her on Facebook under “Elaine Leidolf-Davis Paintings.”

Leidolf-Davis said now is the time to place orders for the Christmas season. She does not attend shows later than October to make sure she gets all orders produced for Christmas gifts.

“It’s one of a kind and it means a lot to people, especially if you’ve lost a pet,” she said. “All I  need is a clear color image of a pet and I take it from there.”

To place an order, call Leidolf-Davis at 502-648-1556.

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