The Thinking Woman's Almanac
From Annie Shaver-Crandell's Studio
June 2013
Annie Shaver- Crandell
Annie Shaver- Crandell

In this issue
Animal Portraits
Commissions & Upcoming Events
Letters to Annie
Next Newsletter & Archives

Updates - News from Annie's Studio

June 2013
Animal Portraits

Three-day-old foal, Chincoteague
Three-day-old foal, Chincoteague
Daniel and I are just back from a wonderful trip to the barrier islands of Assateague and Chincoteague off the coast of Maryland and Virginia.  Our goal was to locate and photograph if possible some of the wild ponies that live there.  We were successful beyond our dreams. From the boat of Captain Nate of Daiseys Cruises, we saw at water's edge a band of eight teenage fillies born in 2012. The Chincoteague foals are branded with dry ice with the year of their birth at the time of the famous annual Pony Swim. During our next day, after a three-mile hike into woods and along marshes, and just as we were about to give up our quest, we came on a pile of fresh manure that betrayed the nearby presence of another band of ponies.  It turned out to be the band of Riptide, a beautiful four-year-old stallion, six mares, and a foal that was perhaps three days old.  We had a fascinating hour-and-a-half watching them graze, led from spot to spot by a pregnant, older mare.  Intermittently, Riptide attempted, without success, to breed each of the six mares -- not your typical city-dwellers' hike.
Philly Photos
Teenage fillies at the beach, Chincoteague
Usually the process by which I achieve source photos for animal portraits is less strenuous, requiring not much more physical exertion than crawling around on a floor with my camera. Typically, I like to photograph an animal in its own surroundings. If it is a companion animal, the presence of the human owner is usually enough to allow the subject to relax into a characteristic pose long enough for me to shoot.  In the case of this young bulldog, Armando, the co-owner who gave me the commission told me that his partner, who was to receive the portrait as a surprise gift, was particularly fond of the look of their puppy when his tongue hung out -- hence the choice of expression. But the owner had to play with the puppy as a distraction so that I could get the shot because he wanted to put his muzzle into the camera.

Sometime, if I can just spend time on the floor with domestic animals, they will pose themselves, as did this Maine Coon beauty, who exudes the quintessence of "cattitude."

Bowdoin at her Ease: Homage to Olympia, acrylic,
12" x 24", 2011
Otherwise, I rely mostly on the crime-of-opportunity approach to shooting source material. I spotted these three canines on a residential street in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, apparently waiting for their dog-walker. I was struck by how little attention they paid to one another, and the art historian in me could not help thinking of the many drawings and paintings by Edgar Degas in which dancers at rest turn away from one another, each in her own world of preparation for or recovery from exertion.   
Chelsea Dogs
Homage to Degas: Chelsea Dogs. 12" x 24", oil, 2012

Another rich source of imagery for me currently is the Smithtown Hunt on Long Island.  Although there are, in fact, foxes on the island, the club members who ride together there pursue the trail of artificial fox from a spray can carried by the day's designated Fox, who rides ahead of the field to lay the scent to be followed by the hounds.  The point of the day is a good brisk ride in like-minded company. Non-riders -- hilltoppers -- are welcome to follow on foot and by car in order to view the hounds and riders from a number of vantage points during the several hours of the hunt. At a pause for rest, or check, as it's correctly called, I caught up with these huntsmen supervising the pack of hounds maintained by the club in a clearing in the woods at Old Westbury, Long Island.
Though I prefer to take my own photographs in order to see the subject from a number of angles, and to see its correct coloring, I can, if necessary, work from others' photographs.

The painting featured in the video in this issue derives from a photo taken by Daniel Dillon during one of his runs in Manhattan's Central Park. 

Featured is an NYPD officer from the Bomb Squad and his partner, a Belgian Malinois specialized in sniffing out explosives. This painting is part of an ongoing series I am working on of the working animals of New York City -- primarily carriage and police horses, and working dogs. In the video I speak about the processes by which the painting came about.

Coming Events
Clearing: Hounds and Hunters, acrylic,
24" x 36", 2012
With several commissioned works to complete, I am also looking forward to doing paintings and drawings based on the Chincoteague ponies, other scenes from the outings of the Smithtown Hunt, carriage horses of Central Park, and service animals of the NYPD, all of which subjects allow me to indulge my other love as a painter, landscape -- which will the focus of my next newsletter.




Dear Ms. Crandell

My partner and I are collectors of original fine art from around the world. Being together for over a dozen years can make it challenging to find that special gift. Commissioning you for a portrait of our newest furry family member has not only brought joy and smiles to us but our entire family and friends.   


Your ability to capture his personality onto a canvas, has proven to be the best gift I have ever given my partner and to myself.

We will treasure it forever.  It has also become our favorite piece and has increased in value in ways our other pieces can not. It is also our first piece that has been included in exhibitions through out New York City. Thank you for helping make our dog a permanent part of our home and collection.  


With All Sincerity,


Armando Front

Dear Annie,


Like many pet owners, I have a much deeper connection with my bulldog, Armando, than some might suspect possible. To say that he is a "substitute child" is part of the explanation. But even more so, he has become my constant companion, selfless friend, and emotional port in the storm of my harried and frantic Manhattan life. I never imagined that his unique personality and simple basic essence could be so effectively and strikingly captured with paint and canvas. You have accomplished what no photograph has been able. I received your portrait of Armando as a birthday gift commissioned by my partner two years ago. To this day it remains my most treasured gift. One critical objective of art is to evoke powerful emotion; Bulldog Front is an unquestionable success!    


Thank you,

Marc D.Shur, Ph.D

Armando Back

The minute I saw Annie's portraits of cats and dogs I knew I would like nothing better than to have her paint my daughter's dog "Bear". I love this dog so much I call him my 'grand-dog' but I figured I probably wouldn't be able to afford it. I was wrong. Annie worked with me on the price, the size and the delivery date and I am now the delighted owner of an original and unique painting of this special dog. Her process was as relaxed and fun as her personality! We went out on a snowy day to the park and Annie captured him in his natural and favorite environment. I treasure this portrait and enjoy looking at it every day!  


Dianne Robbins                

Bear Playing In the Snow

I have two beloved grand-dogs...both total individuals and solid members of their families.   When I saw Annie' s captivating portraits of the pets of friends and patrons I was enthralled.  What a perfect holiday gift for our two young families.  I had never commissioned a painting before.  Would she -could she -- do our  four-legged "family members?"  Without a doubt.  Annie's talent for catching defining looks and personalities was put to the test on Peetsie, lovable and sleek golden retriever, and Daisy, a Cavachon (Cavelier King Charles and Bichon Frise mix.), all lap dog.  Annie knew Peetsie well and was able to take the kind of photos she likes to work with.  Daisy had to be captured only from emailed photographs.   The finished products, in acrylics, were charming likenesses that captured the specialness of each pup and its environment.  Peetsie lay on her favorite oriental carpet, and Daisy lolled, tummy up, on the forbidden sofa. Those paintings now have pride of place in their respective homes and will be treasured for years to come.  Thank you, Annie, for sharing your talents with our families.   


DWD, New Jersey


Commissions and Websites         

I am currently accepting commissions for animal portraits and may best be contacted at
Armando, watercolor,
11" x 11", 2010
 or 212-464-7519

You can see examples of previous paintings at and, as well as on
my main website,

Annie's work may be seen at 


Next Newsletter Issue
Garden Path: Homage to Vuillard - Oil - 2012


-- Next issue featuring Landscapes and
Plein Air Painting



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Please contact Stella Lillig for more information at and 212-924-3605

2013 Annie Shaver-Crandell