Move over Mona Lisa, Jennifer Bloom prefers painting portraits of pets

Artist’s work now on display at Burien Community Center

By Lindsay Peyton

Pets with panache – and a portrait-worthy visage – are the subject-of-choice for artist Jennifer Bloom.

She can capture the personality of any dog, cat or even fish on canvas. The classically trained painter said she hit her stride when she switched to canine and feline companions for her models.

Her paintings are currently on display at the Burien Community Center, 14700 6th Ave SW, where they will remain on display through the end of March.

The city’s cultural arts supervisor Gina Kallman juried the show. She explained that the community center has featured various artists since it opened.

“It’s a great to give local artists an opportunity to show their work,” she said. “Jennifer’s art is really fun and vibrant. I thought it would be a great fit for the space.”

Bloom is originally from New Jersey and has loved making art since childhood. “I always enjoyed it immensely, and I had a lot of support,” she said. “My mother was nice enough to sign me up for art classes. I was really lucky.”

She received her bachelor’s degree in art and design at the Rhode Island School of Design before pursuing a master's of fine art degree at the UCLA.

Bloom took a job as a caterer for a while, before finding work faux painting for the film industry. Then, she moved to New York to pursue a career in fashion design. She eventually moved to Seattle for a job designing t-shirts.

Now, Bloom teaches afterschool art classes for children – and spends most of her time working on commissioned portraits of pets. She named the business venture “Haute Portraiture.”

She started pursuing the subject matter nine years ago. “When I moved here, I was impressed that dogs were allowed on the bus system,” she said. “They’re not in New York. People are dog crazy here.”

All she needs are a couple pet photographs to start working on a painting. If a client does not have any pictures, Bloom often visits the animal and takes her own photos.

“Usually people like my work and want me to be creative,” Bloom said. “But if they want more control, I show samples and make it a slower process.”

Her pieces have an air of whimsy, with bright colors and bold lines.

“I like to make it magical,” Bloom said. “I want to tell a story.”

In addition to her commissioned portraits, Bloom creates her own pet paintings and shows them at galleries, art walks, festivals and Kennel Club shows.

“I’m really happy doing this,” she said. “I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

One of her clients, Joe Langman, commissioned her for three paintings. “They’re really remarkable,” he said. “I love her style. It’s very expressive and colorful. She’s expressionistic -- and captures the essence of the animal.”

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