Finding a Niche in Painting Our Pets

by Courtney Cerniglia

When we make the decision to hang a piece of artwork in our home, it’s usually because it means something to us. We want it on display, to see it daily, and be reminded of what it symbolizes to us. Perhaps you have art in your home like this? A silhouette of your child, a sketch of your home…a beloved pet? 

Terry Stanley found her niche in the art world by capturing hundreds of pet personalities and characters on canvas. Her pet portraits are cherished by many who chose them to adorn their home as a reminder of their favorite furry companions. To date, Stanley has done over 700 of these lovable pet portraits!

She started her artistic career as an FBI-trained police artist in Milwaukee County. There, part of her work included police composites and forensic reconstruction. After an injury on duty, she used art to help her through recovery, and her career pivoted into fine art and still life. She was discovered by Jack Richeson, a well-known art enthusiast of the Fox Cities who began to collect Stanley’s work over the years. Eventually, they worked together as Richeson opened Richeson School of Art and Gallery in Kimberly. Stanley served as the founding director, and while she’s retired from the role today, she still returns to teach classes. 

Stanley got her start in painting pets as a creative way to keep selling her work during the 2008 economic crisis. For Stanley, she wanted to find a way to continue doing what she enjoyed even during challenging circumstances. Using the new platform, Twitter, and starting a blog, she set a goal to paint a 5 x 7 inch pet portrait each day for a year. The buzz spread fast, and within six weeks, she had enough pet portrait orders to fill the year! 

What’s unique about Stanley’s pet portraits, I think, is that she retains a high level of artistry in these paintings. She uses archival, high quality paints and materials and treats each work as its own unique masterpiece. She knows her paintings will be cherished for the subject matter is quite meaningful to the owners. I have to say, even I have a little painting of our dog hanging in our home, and it’s not something I plan to take down any time soon! Stanley loves that her pet portraits bring so much joy and memories to their owners. 

To learn more about Terry Stanley and have your own pet portrait created, visit her website at or email her at