ESCONDIDO — Calling all pet parents and fur baby lovers: Rebecca Reeb, an Escondido pet artist, is ready to paint your dog’s (or cat’s) portrait for the upcoming holiday season and beyond.
Once the portrait is completed — it takes her between 10 and 30 hours depending on the dog’s size — she gives back a portion of the proceeds to the client’s chosen animal charity. Recently, Reeb has teamed up with San Diego Humane Society to donate up to 30 percent per painting back to the shelter.
“Dogs and cats are just so fun to paint,” said Reeb, 55, who divides her time between Escondido and Point Loma. “I love trying to catch their joy and personality. I don’t have a favorite; I love that dogs come in such varieties. It gives me something to do different each time.”
Why does she do it: “I’m just doing my part to make the world a better place for animals.”
Animal lover, always
Caring for animals is nothing new for Reeb, who said she has always been an animal lover and an advocate. For example, for many years she has been a paid employee as well as done volunteer work for Animal Friends of the Valley in Temecula, Escondido Humane Society, San Diego Humane Society and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
“I have volunteered for about six years at various animal shelters and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park,” she said. “My favorite thing to do at the Safari Park was making enrichment items for the animals. These are basically cardboard boxes made into animal shapes and painted. These were filled with treats by the keepers and given to the animals to play with. It is amazing to watch the elephants or tigers play with them, they really love it!”
She also served as the AniMeals coordinator at Helen Woodward Animal Shelter, a program that provides pet food to seniors and others who need assistance.
Stars of the ball
Additionally, for the Humane Society’s recent Fur Ball gala, Reeb created paintings of honoree Colleen Blackmore Reilly’s dogs, and Star of the Ball, Olive. She also donated an opportunity for an original painting, which raised $630 for the shelter.
“Community support is critical to our ability to give all animals a second chance and be a safety net for pets and their people,” said Jennifer Grantham, senior director of annual giving. “We’re so grateful for our partners and the generous support from the community. Together, we can create a more humane San Diego.”
While she is good at what she does, Reeb has had no formal art training, but all her life people have described her as creative. She graduated from Point Loma High School where she was made her first $50 as an artist for painting an elephant. She later went on and graduated from a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania.
Reeb said she has tried and enjoyed just about every craft there is but “decided to focus on her favorite, which is painting.” Her paintings include landscapes, pastorals, fanciful wine labels, and of course, pet portraits.
“I’ve dabbled in watercolors a little over the past 20 years, but I just started painting about eight years ago,” she said. “My husband, Marc Weinberger, is a full-time civil engineer, but grows grapes and makes wine as a hobby. We wanted some fun labels for the bottles, so I gave it a go.
“My pet portraits and wine labels have been in acrylic,” she said. “When I travel, I take watercolors because they are so light. I try to paint one scene on each trip.”
It looks like her talent has paid off, Reeb won the Silver Medal in Wine Maker Magazine’s 2014 Label Contest for her original work “Fruit Bomb” featuring dogs Greta and Sobe. She also received a special write-up in Wine Maker Magazine in 2013 for her “Chateau Woof ‘du Paw” label with German Shepherd dog, Baron, as the Pope.
Always at the ready
Always the animal lover and rescuer, if Reeb sees a stray dog while she’s in the car, she’ll stop and do whatever it takes to get the dog safe and hopefully home. Her license plate is DOGMAMA, she said.
“I don’t have any children, but when I got the plate I had four dogs,” she said. “My husband calls me ‘Dog Mama.’ Dogs are my favorite people.”
As for her own four-legged buddies, Reeb said her 13-year-old German Shepherd and 14-year-old Samoyed passed away just within the last two months. So, right now, just a springer spaniel and a cat are her “kids.”
In the end, Reeb said she’s just trying to spread the joy through her colorful paintings of all those fur babies. Paintings range from $200 to $600 depending on size and number of pets per portrait. From that fee she donates between $50 and $150 back to the animal charity of choice, which works out to 25 to 30 percent per work.
For more information, or to have your dog painted, visit Reeb’s website at www.originalpetpaintings.com or people can call Reeb at (619) 994-6559.
Reeb said if you want a holiday portrait delivered on time, be sure to contact her as soon possible.