art teacher uses colorful paint to bring animal photos to life | Louisiana News

By LEIGH GUIDRY, The Daily Advertiser

YOUNGSVILLE, La. (AP) — Kelly deClouet sits at a table in her kitchen furnished with everything she’ll need for the evening — blank canvas, brushes and a rainbow of acrylic paints.

She will be working diligently over the next few weeks to not only paint a portrait of a poodle or bulldog, but to paint your poodle or bulldog.

She lays down layer upon layer of small strokes of paint to capture the personality of her clients’ beloved pets, each painting becoming a colorful keepsake or memorial of an animal that has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

“What I’ve learned in art is that an eighth of an inch makes a difference,” deClouet said. “It transforms the animal into what it is.”

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The North Vermilion High art teacher feels the pressure to capture the essence of the animal, especially when it comes to a painting of someone’s deceased pet.

“He has to look exactly like their dog,” she said. “The eyes are taking me the longest. It won’t be fair, and I’ll do a tiny flick somewhere and that’s it. They’ll be like, ‘Oh my god, that’s him.’ »

DeClouet, 51, has been teaching art for 24 years, spending the last 17 at North Vermilion in Mauritius.

“I love my job,” she said. “I have no problem getting up at 5:30 a.m. and arriving at school at 6:30 a.m. Sometimes I even look forward to going to school.

And when she’s not creating art in the classroom, she creates it at her kitchen table in Youngsville. Several years ago, she had started taking apart and painting wooden pallets as well as painting on canvas, starting a side business called Pallets and Palettes LLC.

She took orders and sold through Facebook, and in 2018 someone asked her to paint an animal in a style that suited her. She loves the bright colors and dreamy brushstrokes of Van Gogh and Gustav Klimt, and she thought she could bring that to these projects, making herself and her clients happy.

“They want something different,” she said. “It’s not realistic.”

She did her first pet painting in 2018, and the rest is history. Now she has made hundreds.

DeClouet has seen his style evolve over the past four years. She can look back on her early strokes and see thin, hesitant strokes, compared to the broader strokes she paints comfortably today.

She has become familiar with this medium, but always finds challenges in new projects.

“It’s more about using the right colors to create depth, and then about the tiny little things that make the animal unique,” she said.

Clients send her photos of their pets at work, most of which are cats or dogs. But he was asked to paint birds, chickens, llamas and giraffes in the bold, lined style.

She’ll work on several at once, maximizing drying time and her “free” time after a full day’s work. Sometimes she brings her projects into the classroom, showing her art students how she creates this look.

“The kids are so excited,” she said. “It shows them that you can make money from art and do what you love.”

DeClouet studied advertising and design at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and his experiments with different media and composition classes continue to be helpful, at the both in class and at his kitchen table.

She prefers to work in her kitchen, where she can also watch TV, cook or entertain friends while hand painting line after line to create a tangible image that looks like it has been passed through a digital filter.

“I like being where the people are, not locked in a store,” she said.

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