Emerging Artists | Resa Grogan

A passion for fur

Resa Grogan, Honey, pastel, 10 x 18.

Resa Grogan, Honey, pastel, 10 x 18.

This story was featured in the August 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

If you’re a dog or cat owner, you can probably rattle off a litany of endearing characteristics that make your furry companion so lovable. No one understands this better than Resa Grogan. Pets have been a cherished part of her life since she was a child, and for nearly 20 years, the Atlanta, GA, pastel artist has been channeling her love for felines and canines into expressive pet portraits. Along the way, her works have received numerous awards—and many heartfelt tears of appreciation, too. “People love their animals, so I love doing this for them,” enthuses Grogan, whose works are primarily commissioned pieces. “One of the biggest compliments I get is when they cry, because I know I’ve captured what they wanted me to capture.”

Heart-shaped noses, half-pricked ears, scruffy white beards—these and other distinctive features set each of Grogan’s subjects apart. Thus, she strives to bring these details to life in her portraits, right down to the finest hairs in a coat of fur. For the most intricate details, the self-described realist first whets her pastel sticks on sandpaper to achieve a sharp edge. “It’s especially important to get the eyes right, but even what the animals are doing is important,” adds Grogan. Take, for example, HALLIE AND BEN, the artist’s portrait of a cat and dog tenderly nuzzling in the comfort of their home. “You don’t see their eyes,” she says of the pair, “but you still feel the warmth of their spirits.”

While Grogan generally uses reference photographs to complete her pieces, she relishes opportunities to work from life when portraying her own beloved critters. Her cat Lily, a Ragdoll with cerulean-blue eyes and a generous spray of white whiskers, is the star of LILY’S BLUES, a chromatically stunning piece that was named Outstanding Pastel last fall in the BoldBrush competition. Indeed, a signature Grogan painting usually displays playful contrasts in complementary colors, and if viewers look closely, they’re even likely to find subtle pops of blue, purple, or orange in an animal’s fur. “I try to get the local color and bump it up a bit,” says Grogan. “Some people say to me, ‘Oh, you made the painting look better than the photograph.’ And I’ll think, yes, that’s exactly what I was going for! I know I can move outside the box.” —Kim Agricola

representation
www.resagrogan.com

This story was featured in the August 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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