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Caleb Smith (r) with Charlie Jones.
Caleb Smith (r) with Charlie Jones.

A Montrose artist is drawn to pet portraits.
by Donalevan Maines

A few lucky Houston pets will be pleased to see their own likeness rendered in time for the holidays, thanks to artist Caleb Smith’s new career as a pet portraitist.

Fate finds former OutSmart graphic designer succeeding in pet portraiture after he surprised his neighbors with an 8×10 of their seven-year-old Vizsla, Buddy, who was suffering with cancer. The watercolor keepsake captured the dog so perfectly that he started getting commissions from other pet lovers.

For example, Robert and Marti Jones had Smith paint an 18×24 acrylic portrait of their new dog, Charlie, a standard poodle. “He’s like no other poodle,” Marti Jones says, describing how Smith played with Charlie and shot photographs of him from different angles before retiring to his studio to make preparatory sketches for a painting. Consequently, Jones says, “You know that this painting is of our particular dog. Caleb just gets it.”

Smith’s portrait of Charlie.
Smith’s portrait of Charlie.

Getting an animal right requires as much care as capturing a human subject, says Smith, who hails from Kurton (near Bryan, Texas). Smith moved to Houston with a bachelor of arts degree in painting and drawing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

One particular night at Domy Books on Westheimer, Smith met his girlfriend, Angela, at a screening

of the 2007 horror spoof Teeth. “It’s about a teenage girl who has teeth in her vagina,” he explains. “She and I were the only two people laughing at the movie. I thought it was hilarious. We struck up a friendship, and that turned into a relationship.”

The couple lives together in Montrose, where they are parents to a number of rescue animals. “We take in as many cats as we can afford,” says Smith.

The most popular style in his pet portrait venture, he says, is pen-and-ink drawings. “They are an addition to the family hearth, a keepsake for college kids, or holiday gifts,” he says.

A pet should ask his or her owner to pony up half the payment at the time of the commission (with the remaining half due upon completion), and allow as much as two weeks for delivery. Prices range from $50 for a black-and-white 9×12 to $200 for a color 18×24. For further information and a gallery of samples, visit

Donalevan Maines slso writes about Gaspar Cruz in this issue of OutSmart.

Smith’s dearly departed dog, Nabokov.
Smith’s dearly departed dog, Nabokov.

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Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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