Sep 14

Introducing a Very Talented Artist

Gabriela Nalven’s Interview with Melanie Schlaginhaufen


Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me, for the Knowing Dogs Blog. I know my readers will enjoy seeing your work, and hopefully will want you to capture their own dog in a portrait for a forever memory.   When did you become interested in drawing?


My talents began in January of 2012 when I came across to an open house AutoNation Academy of Arts at the Las Olas Riverfront in Fort Lauderdale.  I tried out five classes for five weeks that happened to be a 5-for-5 Trial.  Ceramics didn’t work out for me and neither did computer arts, textiles and real life sketching.  I succeeded in mixed media with Natassia Loth that dealt more with drawing and painting.  This is where I knew I fit in more with this kind of lifestyle.



So your artwork has become more than just a hobby and is now your career, specializing in animals?


Yes. I felt connected with the atmosphere of other painters especially with my husband who takes it to the eco-statistic level of 3D-Pop art in the Fazzino method.  This is how I got myself so involved with drawing and took my own artwork into a career and to have it in my name.  Although, my methods are mixed with acrylic, light-weight charcoal base, and graphite pencils.  My categorical method is animal life.



What made you become interested in drawing portraits of dogs?


So far man’s best friend, for over thousands of years, has always been their dog or dogs.  Why I must state this is because I have been around dogs most of my life and dogs were always my idol.  As I have learned Art History and Art Appreciation in college, I have noticed that there are more people in portraits than their pets.  I thought that this interest of mine would push further an equal number of dogs in portraits along with the portraits of their owners and also it is more likely that there is somebody that would purchase a portrait of a dog.  A picture can say a thousand words and when it comes to a painting of a dog portrait, even in their world, would be a thousand body languages of cuteness.


What type of dogs do you personally have?  How have they inspired your work?  Or have there been dogs of clients or friends that you have found particularly inspiring?


For starters, I got a standard French-Canadian poodle in 2010, my boy Gamble who is 3 years old now.  In April of this year, I got a one year-old mini-poodle who is Cotton.  Living in Hollywood, Florida, for over 5 years, there are a lot of dogs that happen to live in our apartment building in which Gamble saw one of his cousins that happens to be a toy poodle that is Harry. The little one, Cotton is still getting used to his cousin and friends that live with Harry and the owner Emily.  As one of the greatest places to live with your pet, even if it is a marsupial, almost any background I see would help me make my work inspiring.


As far as my two amazing boys, Cotton and Gamble go, they were the first to start out as my projects.  When it comes to my friends dogs, it is their looks that are inspiring: Shmu, Lea and Harry (Gamble and Cotton’s cousin).  Over the past months, they have gotten along well with Cotton.  The same goes with Amos and Tank with their owner Roger.



It must be hard to capture each dogs unique expression.  Can you usually do this from a photograph or do you have to meet the dog?


It starts with a photograph.  Either on Facebook or an image in the mail.  It would be nice if I would meet the dog with their owner and make the portrait right then and there like what some painters in the Renaissance period would do (*snickering a little laugh*).  I can say that each dogs expression is so adorable, too cute and cuddly.  It is like a snapshot of that specific emotion with that expression, whether it is still or in movement.


That is great that you can do this work though from a photograph. We are really looking forward to the portrait you are going to do of our Poodle "Hudson". I was also surprised to see that your portraits seem affordable for the average person when it comes to this economy.


I realize that in today’s economics everything isn't as affordable to many consumers.  In my case, I make it a reasonable economic pricing for most or, if not, all.  The way I price it out is due to how many hours I spend on each dog portrait, how much I had to spend to buy the material, how big the portrait would be, how many dogs that are in one, different from the other that I am working on, the detail I have to put in each whether there is furniture involved or a specific background requested, the shipping and handling as well as what medium is being used in hand (acrylic, graphite pencil, light-weight charcoal base).  Acrylic is the most expensive to use in most paintings, if not all.  On an average, a Standard Poodle portrait would be $70.  The more extravagant the picture is the value increases to $80 to $100.  2 dogs in one portrait is always $100, most single portraits average $80 but it depends a lot on the detail of the photograph and the size requested.


For example, this Border Collie portrait is a standard size, done in pencil, charcoal and acrylic and was only $60. The one of the lovely Golden Retriever is more detailed and was priced at $80.


What are the average size requests?


The average size requests either come from the customer or how much detail I have to place in each portrait.  Sometimes, I would have to fit either 2 to 5 dogs in one to fit at a decent size.  It also depends on the size of the dog that is put in each portrait as well as what size would fit the breed.  If it is individual, a pair, a set, or a group of dogs, it measures up.  The largest in portrait size that I would go up to is 32 x 36 maximum.  My minimum is 8.5 x 11.


Thank you so much for taking time to chat with us about your work!


9/30/14 addition to this article--Gaby's company also does gorgeous cat portraits, so I wanted to add this lovely image as well. You can see both the photograph and the artwork below of a recent cat portrait (cost $70, two cats in one portrait $100).



For those interested in a portrait, you can reach Gaby through her website at www.gabysgallery.com or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


(C) 2014, Melanie Schlaginhaufen, all rights reserved. Drawings in this article are copyrighted by the artist, Gabriela Nalven and may not be reproduced in any form.

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Comments (2)
  • Ruth Sherl  - Artist Gabby

    Melanie loved your article on Gabby so interesting and informative . Her work is beautiful and I am so thankful to u for letting us know about her and the beautiful art work she does. I plan to contact Gabby , I have several Siberians that I want to have a portrait done ..I love the different choices that Gabby has offered as well… I can't wait to see Hudsons finished portrait he is so handsome : )

  • Melanie S.  - thanks Ruth!

    Thank you so much for your comment Ruth. I will make sure you see Hudson's portrait! Hope you do have some of your Siberians done as well, your dogs have such beautiful heads, I am sure their portraits would be lovely. It is also nice to support a young artist.

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