Unemployed Oak Lawn man finds pet project
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org July 11, 2013 2:16PM
An example of Noel Roberts' artwork. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 11, 2013 2:16PM
Like many in the sputtering U.S. economy, Noel Roberts found himself unemployed a few years ago.
“I just couldn’t find a job. I was going crazy,” he said.
In an attempt to still contribute to the family income, he turned to his first love, painting, and has carved out a business painting oil portraits of pets.
“It felt like a niche, the thing to do,” he said.
“I probably got into pet portraits because my wife, Julie, works with Good As Gold, a golden retriever rescue group. They had events going so I donated a pet portrait on a wine glass,” he said.
That was a good move and he started getting orders.
The Oak Lawn man, 60, never expected his life would take such a turn, but he’s having a good time.
“I’ve been painting my whole life. I continued painting no matter what I was doing,” said Roberts, who had been working in information technology.
Roberts paints what he sees.
“I’m not an abstract type of person. If I see a tree I paint a tree. The eyes aren’t going this way and that way like a Picasso,” he said.
Rather than trying to get a pet to sit still and pose for a portrait, Roberts asks customers for several photos.
“Some are more tricky, especially the ones with multiple colors. The brindles are really hard,” he said.
He uses the photo to get an outline of an animal and starts working from there.
Customers can email photos to him, but it’s best to send more than one to give him a better idea of what the animal looks like.
He practiced early on with oil paintings of their two goldens, Dylan and the dearly departed Sergeant.
You can find out more about Roberts’ artwork by visiting a web site he shares with other artists www.personalizedartwork.biz.
He said that while “doing a black cat is real easy,” but he still must “get the highlights and the eyes right.”
It’s not all pets. He has a nice collection of other paintings in his home, but Roberts will be touting his pet portrait business July 20 and 21 at the Orland Park Art Fair.
What’s nice about his job is the commute. Roberts works at home, in a small room off the living room.
Right now, he is working on a portrait of a deceased dog for a client who wanted to show the canine near a rainbow bridge leading up to heaven. The 16-by-20 oil painting looks remarkably like a photo of the dog named Andre.
“She sent me, maybe, 20 pictures,” he said.
“The thing is you want to capture the essence of the pet. You want to make sure the eyes are where they should be, the length of the nose and the ears are right, all the distinguishing marks on the paws, tails and chest (are right)” he said.
Roberts can be reached at (708) 420-7297.