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On Canvas, Capturing A Dog’s ‘Soul’

dsc_0360Joy Malin Neo stands beside a portrait created by Joy Malin, an East Village painter who specializes in portraits of dogs. Below: Ms. Malin with Neo and Charlie.
IMG_0107Alexa Tsoulis-Reay

Joy Malin can’t conceal her love of dogs, even over the phone. “When you arrive, come to apartment D, as in dog” she announced when I called to schedule a meeting. This was a fitting introduction to the East Village-based artist who estimates that she has painted oil portraits of more than 120 dogs in the last three years.

Her animal portrait business started when she did an oil painting of her daughter’s Doxie, Neo. Her daughter was delighted with the result and Ms. Malin decided it would be a fulfilling way to supplement her art brokering business which had suffered during the recession.

She began to advertise on Craigslist, with signs in Washington Square Park and through the gossip networks that connect East Village dog lovers. She’s a regular at Tompkins Square Park where she walks her Yorkie Charlie with a team of dog owners who call themselves the “Housewives of Tompkins Square Park,” because their lives are so intertwined.

While Ms. Malin’s process varies from dog to dog, she usually paints from photos. That, she says, is the key to a successful portrait: turning the 11 × 14 inch oil paintings into more than generic portraits of a breed. “If you have a great photograph then it is easy to capture the soul of the dog,” Ms. Malin says. “It’s in the eyes.” She tends to work quickly noting “when you spend a lot of time on it, it gets stale.”
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