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Finer details give life to Diane Vallejo’s animal portraits 

click to enlarge DIANE VALLEJO
  • Diane Vallejo
Artist Diane Vallejo has made a career out of capturing the unique personalities of the animal kingdom on canvas. Whether it’s the lolling smile of a beloved family dog or the regal stature of an aloof house cat, Vallejo works to bring animals — both wild and domestic — to life through paint and pencil, much to the joy of her creature-loving clientele.

Vallejo, a Colorado Springs resident since the 1970s, has enjoyed drawing and painting since she was a young child. At age 19, she began working at an art shop — partly for the discount on supplies — and would do wildlife sketches in the downtime between helping customers and stocking shelves. When people began offering to buy her art, she realized she had what it took to make a career from her skills.

Describing her artistic style as “realism, but not hyper-realism,” Vallejo works largely in acrylics on canvas or with water-soluble pencils on paper. She puts special care into capturing the finer details of a dog’s coat or the pebbly texture of a lizard’s skin. Her favorite area of focus, the one she feels gives her art a special something, is in her depiction of her subjects’ eyes. That’s where, Vallejo says, the connection between viewer and animal is created.

“When I give a client their painting, the eyes of the animal are the first place they look,” says Vallejo. “When they tear up with joy, I know I’ve captured the essence of their pet.”

In addition to her paintings and drawings, Vallejo has also illustrated three children’s chapter books penned by local author Monica Agnew-Kinnaman, all relating to a pup named Samson. The work was a dream come true for Vallejo.

“I’ve always wanted to illustrate a book,” she says. “It was so much fun.”

Vallejo, whose work has been shown in the Colorado Springs Airport and at The Bridge Gallery, has plans for a new show later in the year. Until then, she’s hard at work on her two latest commissions — both adorable dogs, of course.

To view more of Diane Vallejo’s work, follow her on Instagram @dkvallejoartist.

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