**This post was first featured on our Pet Blog, Time Out For Truffles. If you enjoy adorable pet pics, advice, and pet reviews, head on over and subscribe today!
Social quirks aside, Truffles has one of the best personalities I've ever come across. She's 100% cat, yes- touch her when she allows you to touch, feed her OR ELSE, and if it's on the floor it might as well be a cat toy. But how many cats do you know that are trained to use the (human) toilet, fetch beanie babies 1/4 their size, and have their own website? Okay, I helped a little with the latter, but Truffles likes the virtual attention, so long as it's spearheaded by me. And, as much as she prefers to maintain the illusion of solidarity, this kitty has to be by my side at all times- following me through rooms, and mewing at closed doors; especially the bathroom. She may not be the prettiest cat, though I think she holds her own in that department; she's quite 'generic' tuxedo, in fact- but to me, she is a star.
Because my pets are my kids, and it seems they are changing, and developing as individuals each day, I take hundreds of photos. I've even started this blog to document their mishaps, training and adventures. So, when I came across Diesel & Juice, it's clear why I was instantly enamored. On it's own, Michele Nicolette's portfolio is whimsically enchanting; beautiful illustrations of living and inanimate objects alike. Having done a brief stint at the Art Institutes of L.A. at 17 (way too young to know my direction, or have the solo drive to achieve my goals), I have a tremendous respect for the time and attention to detail Michele puts into each Illustrator based creation. Adobe Illustrator is a wonderful graphics tool, but the artist must do all of the work intelligently, and meticulously, to layer and create overlapping shapes that blend visually as one seamless image. Having slaved through hundreds of hours of Illustrator in 'art school', I can instantly appreciate the precision of Diesel & Juice's pet portraits. I can also see just how much Michele has grown as a digital artist.
While some of her earlier pet portrait commissions are bolder, more simplistic renderings, her more recent work has focused on minute details and intricate shading that truly brings to life the personality of each pet. Artist Michele creates each of these masterpieces by first digitally drawing a frame of the pet, directly in Illustrator. Next, she works to layer colors and shapes to build the animal, or object. When creating a pet portrait commission she is sure to learn about the animal as an individual so she can recreate mannerisms and personality in her pieces. Customers are asked to provide various photo examples of their pet, for reference, but Michele builds much of her concept from the entire customer interaction, which enables her to bring the portrait to life. While she is happy to pose your pet in any requested situation, she does not necessarily create a duplicate of any one photo, and is highly capable of creating a one-of-a-kind rendering of your pet.
Michele was kind enough to create a custom illustration of Ms. Truffles, for a feature here on Time Out For Truffles. Before we'd even begun the conception process I was tickled with this woman, whose emails were full of personality. However, I can assure you she is quite the professional artist, asking all the right questions to determine Truffles' character, and to brainstorm an appropriate piece of work. Shortly after I had first sent over some reference photos Michele same back with two thoughts; to post Truffles laying (as many of her photos showcased her), or to feature her 'fetching' one of her infamous Beanie Babies. I opted for the latter, and suggested we go with Goldie, the goldfish, for its juxtapose of the cat vs. fish conundrum. A few short days later Michele has a proof for me to preview- a relatively complete version, compared to the ending result.
While I was immediately tickled with the realistic likeness, and quality, of the illustration, I anted to test her skills just a little more. I asked Michele to add a few characteristics that were not visible in photos, including some stray (White) hairs by the base of her tail. A minor detail that, in no way defined the image as Truffles any more, to anyone but me- but a change Michele was happy to accommodate. This took a few emails back and forth (placement and size), but turned out perfect. I had also requested that the 'butt' and hang tags for Goldie be added. Last, but not least, I chose a background, from a selection of provided shades, Purple- Truffles' color. With the piece complete I was dumbfounded, turning from screen to cat, an back- the likeness was uncanny. Somehow Michele had managed to capture the sparkle of mischief in Truffles. I an not sing enough praise of the personality of this artist, or her skill. She has been a true pleasure to work with, and I have already been in talks to commission a paid piece for a Christmas gift.
While Diesel & Juice has a wide range of gallery portraits, prints, stickers, and more- it's hard not to highlight Michele's custom work. Her prices are modest for the time and detail put in, and sure to be the highlight of any recipient's year. Inspired by her own furry children, Diesel the Bulldog, and Juice the Cat, Michele brings to light the depth of our best friends and commemorates them far beyond any photos or words. Custom portraits offer many options for prints, and International shipping is available (pricing determined by rates)- there is no reason not to connect with Diesel & Juice today for your own work of art. I can't stop showing ours off!
One Time Out For Truffles follower will win their very own Custom Pet Portrait from Diesel & Juice, click above to head on over and enter!