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Artist Marisa Firebaugh Talks About Her Muse

It’s a typical day in the studio for me. I’m working on drawing a cute dog. It’s about time for a break. But I can’t stand up, or stretch. If I move too much, my pooch, Alfie, who’s laying on the couch next to my drawing table, will think it’s time for his daily walk and proceed to go from a couch potato to a self-propelled boomerang in two seconds flat.

I grew up playing with dogs and drawing under my mom’s drawing table. Now I play with dogs and draw on, not under, the drawing table. As you can see, not much has changed. A few years ago, my Kerry Blue, Dragon, passed away. I was devastated. I wasn’t ready to commit to getting another dog, but I missed having a furball around the house. So I decided to foster. I was paired up with Alfie, a sweet pit bull mutt. And just a few days in, I was ready to throw in the towel. Alfie was a terror. A big, energetic puppy who didn’t understand no and was constantly almost knocking me over. But he was house-trained and rolled over with a big goofy grin at the drop of a hat. After three months of his goofy roll-overs, I decided to keep this oversized 75-pound lap dog. And I am so glad I did.

Dogs are great muses. They’re unabashedly silly, unapologetically honest, and exuberant love bugs. My rescue blockhead Alfie is especially goofy. His goofiness inspired a big part of my business. I do custom pet portraits and custom thank-you notes. And it all started with him. A while back, I had to send out thank-you notes. I decided to draw my pittie pup happily holding up the word “thanks.” It was adorable, and my friends and family wanted their own custom stationery and portraits. After those, I expanded to the general public. Just last week, I sent off a bunch of great portraits to happy pet owners.

I also channel Alfie’s love for life into my other artwork. I love creating quirky stationery. Doggy exuberance has inspired me to create charming cards for any occasion. And inspired by my rescue dog, I donate 10 percent of my profits from dog cards to Rocket Dog Rescue.

Alfie is the most energetic dog I’ve had the pleasure to own. Wearing him out has made me rediscover the Bay Area. As a Bay Area native, I guess I started to take the area for granted. Alfie though, requires a dog adventure every three or four days, i.e., dog parks, hikes, beach days. I paint lovely impressionistic watercolor landscapes inspired by these trips.

I could work a regular 9-to-5 job, but I’d miss being able to take Alfie for his daily walk. I’d miss our tug-o-war breaks and cuddle sessions. So I started my own small business, Studio Firebaugh, specializing in illustrating whimsy, wanderlust, and of course dogs. Thanks for reading. I’ve got to run, It’s time for Alfie’s walk.

Marisa Firebaugh lives with her rescue pittie mix in El Sobrante. When she’s not drawing, she spends her free time near the ocean trying to convince Alfie not to chase seagulls. Find her on Instagram: @StudioFirebaugh; or on Etsy: StudioFirebaugh.Etsy.Com.

Marisa Firebaugh channels her dog Alfie’s love for life into her projects.

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Main article photo by: Marisa Firebaugh