Local artist creates picture-perfect pets

By Lea Blevins
April 11, 2007 San Ramon, CA

   SAN RAMON Some people really love their pets. And some people really love other people's pets.

   Jan Zeigler loves both.



works on a painting

in her studio in San Ramon.

Zeigler works from

photographs (below)

to create her paintings.

Jay Solmonson

   The San Ramon resident has made
a side business for herself out of painting pictures of pets. 
   People started commissioning her to create personal pet portraits of their animals four years ago, but Zeigler's love of art began two decades ago.

   Zeigler and her husband, Gary, moved to San Ramon about the same time the airline they both worked for, Transamerica, closed down.




   Zeigler, who had no experience with painting, was invited to a class a neighbor was holding at her home. Zeigler discovered she was a natural. 

   "I said, 'Wow, this is really fun,' " she recalled. 
   She started out working with watercolors and oils, typically painting landscapes. She later developed an affinity for soft pastels on velour paper to give her art a softer look.

   It was her own dog, Tippie, a Shih Tzu mix, that inspired her first "Pet Art."

   "I really didn't feel like (painting landscapes) was my niche," Zeigler said. "This is what I really love."   

   She now spends about two to three hours a day in her studio, a converted upstairs bedroom in her home.

   The couple's beloved Tippie died seven years ago at age 16, and they haven't been quite ready for another animal yet. But they get plenty of face time with other people's pets, taking pictures for Tri-Valley Animal Rescue and other dogs they meet on the streets.

   Zeigler's goal is to do a painting of every type of breed to show potential customers examples of her work. Many of her commissioned portraits are for people wanting to memorialize their pets.

   She has shown her work and done live demonstrations at the Alameda County Fair, the San Ramon Art Walk and First Wednesday Street Parties in Pleasanton.

   "It's fun to talk with people and see how enthusiastic they are about their animals," she said.

   Zeigler has her fans, but her husband is her biggest. He has encouraged her to decorate their home with her artwork, which hangs over the fireplace, along the stairway and in the halls.

   "Her work is beautiful and it speaks for itself," Gary Zeigler said. "I'm very happy that she has this outlet."

   In addition to dogs, Zeigler paints the occasional cat and currently is working on a horse painting. She also does portraits of people.

   In the past she used to paint on rocks, personalized greeting cards and other objects, but now she sticks to pets and pastels.

   Prices run anywhere from $95 to several hundred dollars, depending on the size of the painting and if there is more than one subject. Her artwork is guaranteed, meaning she will refund the money if a buyer doesn't like the painting and returns it. But that hasn't happened yet.

   "I've never had someone not be happy about a portrait," Zeigler said.

   The Zeiglers hope to adopt another dog when the time is right, but until then her artwork keeps her busy.

   "It's very relaxing," she said. "Plus, I feel like I'm creating something someone's going to enjoy."

   For more information on Pet Art by Jan Zeigler, visit http://www.mypetart.com
or call (925) 828-7208.

Staff Writer Lea Blevins can be reached at lblevins@angnewspapers.com
or (925) 416-4819.

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