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Fiona Purdy: Capturing pets’ spirits through art

Shea Stanfield~ 8/20/2014

CAVE CREEK – Dr. Temple Grandi, stated in her book ‘Animals Make Us Human’ that “all animals and people have the same core emotion systems in the brain; they feel fear as well as a sense of well-being.” In this awareness, artist Fiona Purdy captures the spirit of our most beloved pets in her stunningly perceptive fine art pet portraits.

Fiona, a pet owner herself, shares that she understands completely the deep bond of love that exists between humans and the animals that share their lives. Our pets are more than just animals we “own,” they are beloved members of our families. 
A portrait keeps them close to us and is a beautiful reminder of just how much their presence brings enrichment to our lives. Many of Fiona’s clients report the pet portraits become one of their most precious and deeply treasured paintings in their collections.

Fiona has been painting pet portraits for over 20 years. She has accumulated a wealth of vast knowledge and experience that began with drawing and painting animals during her childhood while living in Auckland, New Zealand. As an adult, Fiona moved to Scottsdale, Ariz. and continued her work capturing the images of family pets on canvas. Her style is realistic yet contemporary. She specializes in rendering every detail with the upmost care. 

Fiona has the uncanny ability of capturing each creature’s personality and their best-loved qualities in a timeless image. Her realistic style ranges from the very formal to informal or even whimsical. Her trademark colorful borders define space and add an extra layer of interest by depicting individual elements of that particular animal’s personality and life with their family.

Fiona typically works from photographs she takes of client’s pets. She enjoys meeting the pet, getting to know their personality, and hearing stories from their families. For owners that don’t live in the area, or even overseas, Fiona has been known to use Skype to meet her subjects, when the technology is available. For those beloved pets that have passed on, she is happy to use the owner’s collection of photos to create that individual and memorable portrait. 

One of Fiona’s favorite parts of the process is working collaboratively with each family to capture the mood they wish to create for their pet portrait.  In this way, her clients are able to develop with her that perfect and lasting memory. Fiona does not limit herself to dogs, cats, and horses. She has accepted commissions across the United States and internationally to paint lizards, birds, fish, and even pythons.  Fiona also holds the special qualifications to paint for Championship Horse and Dog shows.

Fiona is a member of the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog Artist’s Registry. She supports a number of animal rescue groups, including Little Rascals Rescue, Companion Animal Rescue & Educational Services, Woofs, Wiggles, N’Wags, Almost Home Bulldog Rescue: Save the Snorties, Lost Paws, Foothills Animal Rescue, and Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. 

Fiona is a juried member of the Sonoran Arts League and the Arizona Art Alliance. She is also a member of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts. She participates in the Hidden In The Hills Studio Tour each November and Celebration of Fine Art from January-March each year. Fiona has the distinctive honor of being an invited artist to exhibit at the Mayo Clinic’s Scottsdale and Phoenix campuses as part of their Clinic Center for Humanities in Medicine outreach.

To view Fiona Purdy’s pet portraits, review a full resume, or to contact her to do a pet portrait of your own, visit her Web site at, e-mail, or call (602) 770-0529.

Arts columnist Shea Stanfield can be contacted at