‘This is my career and my calling’

Wildlife, pet potrait artist creates painting to remember pets; her lifelong passion came true

Temple+began+drawing+wildlife+and+nature+when+she+was+a+child+living+on+a+farm+in+Illinois.

COURTESY OF CATHERINE TEMPLE

Temple began drawing wildlife and nature when she was a child living on a farm in Illinois.

KASSANDRA VOGEL

As a child, all Catherine Temple wanted to do was create art. Now, she is a career artist who specializes in painting wildlife and pet portraits.

Temple said the best part of her job is being able to connect with people through her art, especially through the pet portraits she creates.

It is very special to work with someone who has lost a pet and help them bring that pet back to life, she said.

“Some of the best parts of my art career are being able to create something that really connects with people and that really touches their heart,” Temple said.

Being able to remind someone of a sentimental point or memory has a big impact, Temple said. People can become very emotional after seeing her art, especially those who have lost their pets.

“Oftentimes, when I am done painting a piece and I have [clients] come over and look at it, we have a box of Kleenex sitting there because it gets pretty emotional,” Temple said. “People love their pets, they love their animals … because I have pets too, I can really relate on that level.”

Temple knew for a long time, even as a child, that being a career artist was what she wanted to do, although this was sometimes met with skepticism.

Temple recalls telling her guidance counselors in high school that she wanted to be a fine artist. They often replied, “What are you going to do for money?” Temple said her response was always the same: “I want to be a fine artist.”

“I thought this is what I want to do, and they weren’t very encouraging to me,” Temple said. “It’s been a lot of years and I’ve had to really work at it to get to the point where I’m at now, where I feel this is my career and my calling.”

Temple said her childhood was somewhat unusual. She grew up on a farm in Illinois surrounded by lots of exotic animals, including flamingos, raccoons and foxes, along with more conventional farm animals.

“I got really interested in drawing as a kid and I would just go out in the backyard, and I had all of these animals to pick from to just start drawing,” Temple said.

Temple honed her craft by going into nature and drawing or painting every day. After she got her first dog, she said she loved him so much she decided to do a portrait of him.

Other pet owners saw her work and wanted similar portraits of their animals, launching that part of her career.

As her career has grown, she combined her skill for wildlife paintings and pet portraits to create pieces featuring both dogs and birds to enter into duck stamp competitions. The federal duck stamp competition is a compilation of science and art, designed to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to their rule book.

Through this, she won her first duck stamp competition in 2017 for Delaware, depicting her Chesapeake Bay retriever with ducks. Her most recent win came with a combination of ring-necked ducks and a chocolate lab for the 2019 Washington competition.

Temple’s work can be found on her website and is also shown locally at the Dahmen Barn.