LUMBERTON — Taylor Raines is a teenage artist who specializes in portraits of pooches.
A rising senior at Lumberton High School, Raines discovered her knack for painting canines while working on a project for her Advanced Placement art class.
“I’ve always loved it, but I really got started with dogs during my freshman year,” she said.
The 17-year-old has since fetched a number of fans, some of whom have commissioned her to create portraits of their pets.
“I try to show the personality [of the dog] because it makes it more special for the person I’m painting it for,” she said. “I love the expression people have with they see it. I love making people happy with my work.”
By her own estimation, Raines has painted about 30 dogs during the past two years. Her colorful depiction of a pit bull terrier recently won a Superintendent’s Award from the Public Schools of Robeson County.
Some of her work is on display at the Robeson County Humane Society’s Friends for Life Shelter, where she did a series of paintings of adoptable animals.
“The biggest challenge is making them look realistic and giving them different characteristics so they don’t just look like any other dogs,” she said. “People send me pictures and I try to make them look as much as the pictures as possible. I would repaint it if they didn’t like it, but I haven’t had that reaction yet.”
A handful of people have commissioned Raines to do portraits of their deceased pets.
“The most recent one was for a girl at my school,” she said. “Their family dog had just passed away and she asked me to do a painting as a birthday gift for her mom, who really loved it. After their pets are gone, the owners want to have some remembrance of them. That’s the biggest thing.”
Sarah Griffin-Greene, a member of Raines’ church, bought three dog portraits for her young sons during the event.
“Her colors really stand out to me,” Griffin-Greene said. “Her paintings are really bright and bold, which I love. Her imagination with color and how she can make something that’s flat like a black dog into something that’s multidimensional.”
In addition to dogs, Raines enjoys painting exotic animals and nautical subjects like boat anchors and jellyfish. She works in a variety of mediums, including chalk pastels, colored pencil and yarn glued to canvas.
Raines plans to study veterinary medicine in college. When she’s not painting, the student athlete plays on her school’s varsity soccer, cross country and bowling teams.
“She’s so busy, but she takes a lot of pride in what she does,” Griffin-Greene said. “As a young artist, she takes a lot of initiative. She’s willing to listen to what people want. She’s really trying to put herself out there and practice her craft.”
Raines, who is ranked at the top of her class at Lumberton High School, says that art offers some respite from the rigors of sports and academics.
“It’s very stress-relieving,” she said. “It’s a great way to just unwind and not have to worry about all the stuff I have to worry about.”
According to her, working with four-legged models is easier than painting people.
“If it doesn’t look exactly like them, a dog doesn’t get mad like a person would,” she said.
But there is one dog that Raines has been too intimidated to paint. She hasn’t worked up the nerve to tackle Bailey, her family’s 2-year-old Sheltie mix.
“She’s different because she has a lot of fur and I’m afraid to mess that up,” she said. “But I probably will paint her at some point. My mom keeps hounding me about it.”
Examples of Raines’ work can be found on Etsy.
Features editor Jaymie Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5771 or by email at [email protected]