Creature Comforts

From artful renderings of man’s best friend to cuddly felt critters, here is a taste of the irresistible animal magnetism all around us.

June 20, 2016 | | Made in the Hills

It should come as no surprise that makers in these hills draw heaps of inspiration from the animal kingdom. How could they not? Dog lovers and the horsey set have fields and trails to roam with their four-legged companions. Farms are teeming with life, both domesticated and wild, fencing be damned. And the summer skies are filled with avian traffic.

From artful renderings of man’s best friend to cuddly felt critters, here is a taste of the irresistible animal magnetism all around us.


Best friends

Caledon artist Joan Gray has carved out a niche creating detailed watercolour portraits of pets – mostly dogs, but also horses. She prefers to meet the beloved animals in person and photograph them from many angles before picking up a brush. Pictured is Balder (9″x 13″), a handsome fellow from Caledon. (Pet portraits in various sizes $400–$800, Joan Gray)


In miniature

Jennifer Osborn of All Sorts Acre in Mono raises sheep and felts their wool into all manner of magical-looking fauna. Here, wild-looking horses keep company with a quirky goat and a teensy fox. Want something more personal? She’ll sculpt to order. ($25 and up; custom $100 and up, All Sorts Acre)

Dogs we love

Who’s a good boy?

At Orangeville’s Dogs We Love, pooches get the royal treatment with homemade healthy and fresh foods to go, including meatloaf and colourful yogurt or carob-covered treats for the well-executed shake-a-paw. (Horse treats are also available.) Look for a table of cute bandanas made in house for added canine flair. (Single treats 75¢–$1; 400 g bag of “bits” $8; bandanas $2–$5, Dogs We Love)

The Little Chicken Book

Feathered finery

A local classic, The Little Chicken Book manages to transform mere barnyard critters into haute portrait subjects. Rare and fanciful breeds including bearded silkies, silver laced wyandottes and other charmers look noble and fearless in photos by In The Hills photographer Pete Paterson, with text by Lesley Kelly. ($16.98, BookLore)

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  • Ellen Cameron

    On her sleeve

    Mono-based equine photographer Ellen Cameron is known for her work documenting the Headwaters horse scene and her on-farm animal portrait sessions. Her newest venture is wearable art – silk scarves and tops that feature digital prints of her horse images, available on a U.S. site called Vida. (Silk tee $65 USD; silk scarf $40 USD, Vida)


    That’s the spirit

    These 43 glossy cards, featuring haunting images of owls, wolves, moose and other creatures, stand alone as reprints of Alton artist Sandra Kunz’s original acrylic paintings. Their companion book, Messenger Cards: Guidance from the Spirit Animals, assigns each card a corresponding inspirational message to ponder. Sandra also leads readings of the cards in her Alton studio. (Set of cards and book $45, Sandra Kunz)


    In full colour

    In her cheeky animal canvases, local artist and art educator Jenny Lorito pairs her whimsical ink drawings with brightly coloured oils. Her menagerie includes “Ostrich” and “Chickens in Love” shown here. She is represented by Noodle Gallery in the Alton Mill and sells archival prints (8.5″x 11″) of the original canvases on her own site, She takes commissions too. (Canvases $30–$60; archival prints $25, Jenny Lorito)


    About the Author More by Tralee Pearce

    Tralee Pearce is the deputy editor of In The Hills Magazine.

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