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A Passion for Portraits

What better way to honor beloved pets than by capturing their personality, spirit and charisma on canvas? Santa Rosa pet portraiture artist, Patti Miller, has been conveying the spirit of animals and their human counterparts for 30 years.

“For as long as I can remember, my pets have been a source of joy and loving connection for me,” says Miller. “It’s a fascinating challenge to understand and convey the spirit of each animal or human-animal relationship through my painting.”

Miller has painted hundreds of pet portraits, including one of a dog in the Marina district of San Francisco, which was featured in National Geographic magazine. “The magazine was doing a series on zip codes in the U.S. where people are devoted to their pets, treating them like family members,” Miller says. “I happened to do a portrait of a dog who lived there.” Miller’s portrait of “Leo” is in the April 2006 issue of the magazine. She’s even had one of her paintings displayed on a famous daytime television shows.

In 2005, while Miller was recovering from a prolonged illness, she watched “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” daily, which became a large part of Miller’s recovery. “Every day I watched Ellen’s show, and she always made me laugh. It was healing.” Miller painted a portrait of Ellen DeGeneres in her living room surrounded by animals called, Ellen in Her Living Room. “Ellen is a great animal lover, and every animal in that painting is one that she told a story about on her show,” Miller explains.

 “Her show, and the painting that she inspired, helped me to heal,” Miller says. “I sent a print of it to her to express my gratitude. Months later, I got a call from her producer telling me the painting would be featured on the show the following day. Ellen displayed the painting on an easel, explaining to the audience how the different elements related to her stories.”

Whether it’s a parakeet, a donkey, a horse, a German shepherd or a raccoon, there’s no pet Patti can’t paint. For more information, visit

Embers to Inspiration

Grief and loss can often bring forth hope and healing—and in many cases, through art. Following the tragic events of last October’s blaze that swept through parts of the North Bay, Sacramento artist Bryan Valenzuela created his mural, Daisy Chain, inspired by the affected communities bond and resilience. “The title refers to the concept of a daisy chain, something that is used in electrical wiring or networking specifically to link numerous systems together, but here as a non-literal way of making a connection one to the other in a series,” says Valenzuela.

The mural captures the imagery of a “helping hand” and is on permanent display at the Napa Valley Wine Train station. In a prepared statement, Valenzuela said, “[the mural] solidified a sense of commonality, of community, a bond where people look to their neighbors and united in their mutual sense of place and home—even suffering and struggle.”

The background of the painting is abstract, and made up of swirls and patterns resembling the chaos from the fires. Gold symbolizes the flames and silver, the smoke. The foreground figure drawing is made up of thousands of hand-written words that create the shape, shadow and light. Visit the Napa Valley Wine Train station at 1275 McKinstry Street in Napa.




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