Hi! I'm AJ McGee, and I create heart-centered pet portraits.

About Me

My earliest memories revolve around loving animals, color, and making art. I wanted to be an artist from a young age, but because I had some fine motor control issues, I began to think that I would never be able to draw to my satisfaction, and I turned my focus to things that I thought I could be "good at." Yet, when I go through my personal papers dating from school all the way through my decades working at a "real job," drawings of animals and nature are a constant theme.

I first started painting pet portraits in acrylic in 2018, when I was volunteering at an animal shelter. There was a special group of dogs that needed rescue, and I painted their portraits on the covers of the notebooks that would contain their adoption papers. From there, I started getting requests to paint pet portraits. I found that I loved doing this, especially when I could help someone in the grieving process by painting a portrait of their pet that had passed away. There is a special energy in knowing how much an animal means to the people who love it, that makes a difference while I am painting. It feels like magic to me when I can make that animal come alive on the canvas. I think of that as the heart connection, or heart-centered painting.

Heart-Centered Pet Portraits

As long as I can remember, I've had an abiding love for animals, starting with my pet cats as a young child. I am passionate about pets - mine and other people's - and I love talking with anyone about their pets. My dogs are a huge part of my world. They are my babies. I cherish them and when they have to leave all too soon, they take a part of me with them. I love to honor my own and others' pets, especially those who have passed, by painting their portraits.

When I paint a pet portrait, I like to sit with the photo(s) of that animal, and think about all that I know about them, and what they mean to their people. That is why it is important to me to know something about the pet whose picture I am painting. I want to know your pet's name, and what are/were those qualities or memories that make him or her so special to you. These are the things I think about while I am painting your pet.

There is that moment, at some point in the process, where I know that I have captured the spirit - that special look or energy - of the animal I'm painting. It's the moment where I catch my breath and think, "There you are!" That is what I love about painting pet portraits. If I don't have that moment, your portrait is not done, and I will keep working until I get there.

A Note about Signatures

Some of my earlier works, whose photos may be displayed in photographs in this shop, have a signature that is some variation of my legal name or initials. (AJ is my nickname.) I'm still settling on a signature style that I like.