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Artist Profile: Rochelle Allen

For the Love of Animals and Art 

By Ellen Samsell Salas 

Characterizing her animal portraits as “representational” or “abstract” realism, wildlife and pet artist Rochelle Allen captures the unique personalities of the dogs, cats, birds, horses, or even pandas and wolves, she paints. Although she works from photographs, her goal is to portray the quality that makes each animal unique. 

Allen has always had two loves: animals and art. As a child intrigued by puzzles and problem solving, she began drawing, attempting to figure out how to create engaging representations of animals. She has taken only one art class, preferring instead to forge her own learning path by studying animal anatomy and the work of other artists. A couple of years ago, she began doing charcoal sketches, which she credits with improving her understanding of fundamentals. A wife and a mother to two young boys, Allen carves out time each day to devote to family as well as painting. 

Before starting a portrait, Allen studies photographs of the animal and, for commissioned works, interviews the pet’s owners. 

“I want to capture the animal’s personality. It’s not just this breed of a dog,” she said. “It’s my dog; it’s a specific animal.” 

Focusing on shapes and values, she establishes a three-dimensional form then adds those details necessary “to bring my subject to life,” she said. “I love the challenge of trying to capture their spirit and explore the ways animals seem to reflect the universal truths and emotions of our own human experience.” 

She sometimes works on the computer, eliminating background elements and focusing on compositional details. Other times, she does pencil drawings or sketches on the computer prior to sketching to actual size. Once she begins her canvas, she uses a grid to ensure that her proportions are correct. 

Allen prefers to paint on linen or cradle wood since they are firmer than canvas, which can bounce. With a limited palette of white and a warm and cool version of each of the primary colors, she paints in oils because they allow alla prima, or wet into wet application, as well as the blending that creates the fuller, looser look of animal fur. 

“My goal,” she said, “is always to try and paint as little as I can get away with and still convey the animal.” 

Determined to create art for the rest of her life, Allen continues to learn and evolve. 

“Being an artist is definitely my dream job,” said Allen. “Experiencing the joy it brings to others when they bring it into their homes is a tremendous privilege and blessing.” 

For more information or to view Allen’s work, visit or