Reston-based artist captures the spirit of pets in her paintings

Erica Eriksdotter’s animal portraits bring peace to owners whose pets have passed.

Erica Eriksdotter (Photo courtesy of Erica Eriksdotter)

The way we memorialize pets is changing, and pet portraiture has proven itself as a beautiful way to honor pets who have passed, as well as capture a living animal’s spirit. Erica Eriksdotter, a Reston resident, creates commissioned pet portraits for people across the nation. Here, she shares how she encompasses the true friendship between pets and owners through her paintings.

Walk us through the process of creating the portraits.
The owner shares wonderful stories of their pet with me, or will send me essays or a few sentences about them. They’ll go through albums and send me the best photos of their pet. It’s a therapeutic way for them to grief a pet that has passed. Pets become more than our companion. It’s an incredible honor to do this for my customers.

Photo courtesy of Erica Eriksdotter

How do you paint a pet’s personality?
If you paint the eyes, then you can see the soul and capture the personality. I also tap into the energy of the animal, so the background color is important, too. It’s in collaboration with the pet parent, and we talk about the color. It’s almost like you’re reading the spirit of the pet. He or she has to feel like that color.

Photo courtesy of Erica Eriksdotter

Why has the pet portrait trend increased in recent years?
Having a portrait of a beloved pet on the wall has become a cultural thing, because you can hand it down. Your daughter or your son may not want the urn that’s full of ashes of your dog, or you might not want to bury your dog in the backyard, but there’s a generational shift in how we’re doing things. Original art lights up a wall. It’s a thing that your guests are going to talk about.

This post originally appeared in our October 2019 issue. For more stories on pets, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Loading cart ...