Evelyn McCorristin Peters was recently featured in the East County Observer. The article focused on her pet portraits and how she helps pups in need of a helping paw.
Myakka City’s Evelyn McCorristin Peters always has been an artist, but she never thought she would be a dog lover.
Then she met Frank.
Frank, a boxer, belonged to her husband, Philip Peters, when they were married 14 years ago.
“I completely fell in love with that dog,” Evelyn Peters said. “But it was like a good girl and a bad man type of thing — Frank was a horrible dog, but I just loved him so much.”
When Frank died in 2007, Peters was devastated.
She missed Frank so much that she contacted the Florida Boxer Rescue about getting another dog a week after he died. During an interview at her home, a rescue employee saw her portrait of Frank in the living room.
“They asked me to donate a painting to raise money for the rescue,” Peters said. “That is how my business was born.”
About Evelyn Peters
- She joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus when she was 19 and sold cotton candy.
- She met her husband, Philip Peters, while working in the circus. He is the owner of Haai Inc., which runs a traveling shark show.
- She prefers to listen to podcasts while she paints. When she is listening to music, she tends to dance, which “is not good when you're painting,” Peters said.
- Her art studio is located in a recreational vehicle in her back yard.
So Peters started her business, Barking Dog Creations Studio.
It wasn’t long until other organizations began noticing her work. Now, she is donating gift certificates for paintings to dog shelters across the country. She recently did a painting for a greyhound rescue in England.
She works from photographs, although she paints her own dogs through “mental images.”
Peters, 53, said some dogs are harder to paint than others.
“There was a woman a few years ago, and I painted her dog, Floyd,” Peters said. “The whole white dog thing is hard — people with white dogs are hard to please.”
Apparently, Peters is a lot better at the “white dog thing” than she thought. The same woman hired her again to paint her new dog, Stanley, who also is white.
Painting dogs for 10 years, she still isn't bored. When her customers comment on how much their dog portrait means to them, it still gives her goosebumps.
And she noted that people are more difficult to paint than dogs. “I normally don’t do people,” Peters said. “Dogs never tell you their nose looks too big in a painting. So I try to stick with dogs.”
Two years ago, Peters did a portrait of Ted, a small, white cocker spaniel with a “weird hairdo going on.”
“I finished the painting and I sent it to (the owners, a husband and wife),” Peters said. “Not only did the wife send me an email about how much the portrait meant to her, I got a separate email from her husband. It was clear in the email how much this man loved his funny looking cocker spaniel. It was so sweet, I cried.”
While Peters paints dogs of all ages, shapes and breeds, her heart lies with older dogs.
“Seniors really pull at my heart,” Peters said. “They are so wise, and you know that the time you have with them is short. Dogs are here much shorter because they have it all figured out. They already know how to love and just enjoy where they are right then — a good lesson for all of us.”
Besides painting dogs, Peters has adopted older rescue dogs.
“When you get involved in rescue, and you see what some of these dogs have been through, they start to mean more to you,” Peters said. “There is something in them. They teach you how to be in the moment and give you unconditional love.”
Her customers often comment on the dog’s eyes in portraits.
“I think you probably see that unconditional love and ability to live in the moment in the dog's eyes,” Peters said.