We signed up at a local studio to paint our pets’ portraits. We had to provide a photo of our animal. When we arrived at the studio, picnic basket in hand, the owners of the studio had blown up the photos and had glued the photos to a canvas. They had picked out our color palettes before we’d arrived and they showed us how to thin the paint so that the photo still glowed through. When we were done about 3 hours later, we had fine portraits to take home.
A lot of people would argue that this is not art. Perhaps originality and creativity had been dumbed down, but most people left the studio very happy. I was surprised to find that many people were painting portraits of deceased pets. Each person who had lost an animal was still grieving and as simplified as the studio had made the process, they were having a tough time. It was really important to them that they “get it right”. They felt they owed at least that much to Fluffy or Coop. If you argue that these paintings are not art, you haven’t been to one of these sessions. The feeling, the effort and the care that the participants put into these portraits is at the same level as any artist.