Portraits of kids of all species: Laura Lee Junge

Date: 
12/04/2020
George

Meet George, the English Bulldog at Jackson Junge Gallery

When a painter becomes a "fur mom," it can be expected that their subject matter may reflect  their furry "offspring." Artist Laura Junge has taken that obsession to a new level as she creates custom paintings for pet moms and dads with "kids of all species."

Otis

This is Laura's rendering of Otis

It all started a few years ago with Otis and his buddy Miles. If you have been in Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee, you may have met Otis. He often greets people at the door or is seen bouncing across the gallery floor. 

His buddy Miles is bigger in stature, black with an unknown lineage, rescued by PAWS from Oklahoma. His dads are Paul Ropski and Jim Karagianes. 

"You know that many people don't like black dogs, but Miles, with his two different colored eyes, has a soft side and we wanted the world to see that," says Paul. So, a couple of years ago they engaged Laura to do a painting of him. 

Miles

Miles, showing his softer side

Laura decided that the theme should be food. "Miles prefers food to toys," Paul and Jim explain laughing. Feeding into that preference are the facts that their home is filled with a lot of crazy hats; they do a lot of cooking; they created a coffee table cook book; and Jim's grandfather was a chef! 

Hence, Laura gave Miles a chef's hat and his own cookbook. "Laura captured him perfectly," said Jim. "She even created notecards with his portrait on them!" 

This year, during the isolation from people and more interaction with pets, Laura decided to begin offering custom animal portraits under the series name of "Twisted Tails."

While she will immortalize any kind of pet, her initial subjects have been canines…which takes us to George. 

LauraPaintsTrixie

In her studio, Laura works on Trixie's portrait

King of the castle, George, an English Bulldog, clearly has an attitude and may be an example of another of Laura's talents…animal whisperer (she denies this). She says that she just asks questions about the pet, its activities, its family and her/his favorite places. 

You be the judge. In the case of George's portrait, Laura included a rabbit serving a bottle of liquor, not knowing a rabbit sculpture with a serving tray was in his owners garden or that his owner has argyle socks tattooed on his legs/feet! On the other hand, the bottle of liquor is Laura's homage to George's human, who is a part owner in a liquor business. 

Trixie the oh so French poodle is surrounded by treats. This femme fatal is reported to have definite preferences for food and fun. Picking up on the fact that the Red Hat Society is important for Trixie and her fur mom, Laura integrated a delicate demure fascinator. 

How does Laura make these animals take on almost human poses?
Laura Lee Junge (a.k.a. M. Jackson) has always liked telling stories in her work. Early on in her training, she decided that she wanted to be able to show her "characters" in whatever position the storyline put them. 

LauraatComputer

Laura does some of her work on the computer. Here she is laying out, putting one of her images on a note card to be printed,

Thus, she focused her early studies on figure painting. "I wanted to make sure an arm, for example, was in proportion to the other arm," she explains. 

Whereas an English Bulldog may never really pose as George is, the ability to make it look so plausible is a credit to that early training. 

Her body of work can be broken into two parts. They are abstracts with splashes of bold contrasting colors and whimsical characters in more muted colors in some story lines such as taverns but with a consistency of movement and energy of body and mind. 

In her pet portraits like her people paintings she uses realism for the main character, leaving the background where she plays with multiple colors. 

"While dealing with subject matters that are both intense and light hearted, it is my goal to touch the emotions of the human spirit," says Laura.

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