Heather Hughes

A little background on your pet portrait artist

Heather Hughes and Bailey

It all began when my husband Chris bought me an easel. I had told him that I used to love oil painting, but my hobby fell by the wayside as my graphic design career took priority. He must’ve thought it was a great way to get me painting again (… or maybe he thought that if he kept me busy, he’d be able to have some more time playing video games). As it turns out, he was right on both counts. Over the past couple of years, Chris has had more than enough video game time, and I’ve been painting non-stop.

My focus didn’t begin with pet portraits, but that’s certainly the direction it quickly grew. After a couple weeks of pushing landscapes, a friend saw my work on Facebook and asked if I would be interested in trying to paint her two dogs, Zeke and Bella. I was nervous at first, but to my surprise, it was amazing how easily the paint flowed off of my brush. Once Zeke and Bella hit social media, word spread of my ability to paint animals. Soon, more friends (and their friends, and their friends too) began asking for pet portraits. Once I opened up shop on Etsy and started advertising custom pet portraits, my paintings began to turn up in homes all over the country.

As you may have guessed, I’m pretty infatuated with our 4-legged friends. While I attribute the start of my obsession to the adoption of my dog Bailey, it’s hard not to be obsessed after painting over 100 of them. And though I wish it were my full-time job, I’m not quite there yet.

Heather and her husbandI received my Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from Towson University and have spent my entire professional career at US Lacrosse in Baltimore as the Art Director of Marketing. In addition to oil painting and my career as a designer, I do pro-bono graphic design for my favorite local shelter, BARCS. I also do all of the graphic design and retail for my favorite local rescue, Pitties and Purrs (learn more about both of them on my Profits for Paws page)

I’m a self-taught painter, originally from beautiful Carroll County Maryland (a rural town just about an hour North-East of Baltimore). After college and a couple years of apartment life, my husband and I bought a beautiful home in small-town Stewartstown, Pennsylvania where we live with Bailey, our sweet boxer/pit bull/beagle/ dachshund mix (that’s right… a true mutt). We're also thrilled to say we'll be adding our first 2-legged baby to our little family this June!

Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.

― John Grogan


Help save the life of a homeless or needy animal in your town with your purchase through South Paw Custom Pet Paintings!


Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.

― Karen Davis

  • chihuahua terrier oil painting
    Thank you a thousand times. The painting is gorgeous, you did an amazing job. I teared up a bit when I first saw it, and a secretary at my office actually cried too, and she had never even met Zoe. You are an amazing artist. Thank you for making this holiday very special for my family, this is by far the greatest gift I've ever given my parents.

    ―Melanie, Georgia on Zoe

  • yellow labs oil painting
    ...(the painting) looks exactly like my dogs. That is an accomplishment itself but it's even more impressive that I did not have 1 good photo of my dogs, rather 3 separate photos with components that I liked. Heather combined them into 1 photo for me to see what the finished product would look like and to be sure it was what I wanted. I ordered the painting for my husband's birthday. These 2 labs were his pride and joy. Unfortunately, he lost them both to cancer late last year. When he saw the painting he broke down in tears. I think it means more to him than any other gift I've ever given him.

    ― Anita, Missouri on Rebel and Missy

  • rat terrier oil painting
    I'm absolutely BLOWN AWAY by my painting Heather created for me. I had ordered this for my girlfriend, she was losing it when she saw it for the first time! She did a wonderful job keeping in touch with me during the entire process (it's really cool to see the painting unfold). Heather's talent obviously speaks for itself, but what you really should know how genuine & sincere she is. She really goes the extra mile with her attention to detail, & will make you feel part of the experience. If you're looking for an amazing oil painting at a very reasonable price - then look no further.

    ― Chip, California on Pepino

  • australian shepherd mix oil painting
    I could not have been happier with the picture I ordered from Heather. It was a Christmas gift for my daughter and she absolutely loved it. Heather was excellent with communication… and the picture of my granddog was right on. It was certainly admired by everyone on Christmas day. I would recommend Heather to everyone, as she is a truly talented artist.

    ― Sandy, Michigan on Soco

  • german shepherd oil painting
    Heather did an outstanding job on my dog Rocky! The image captures his exact head tilt and sitting posture which puts a smile on your face immediately. She was wonderful to work with and provides status updates to make sure the painting is what you are expecting (though no changes were made at all!). I would definitely recommend working with Heather to provide a unique way to capture family memories!

    ― Marie, Virginia on Rocky

  • spaniel oil painting
    A thousand positives! I cannot say enough how great Heather's work is. I actually had some other characteristics of the dog that were not depicted in my photograph and she added them and they turned out great. This was the best gift I have ever given to anyone and to top it I would have to order another painting from Heather! I personally do not know her, but I feel like I know a piece of her after talking so often. If/when I need another painting, I am definitely ordering it from her..worth every penny!

    ― Debbie, Indiana on Penny

  • chihuahua terrier oil painting
    Heather is an amazing artist - her beautiful oil painting of our dog looks exactly like him. Everyone loves the painting. She is great to work and responds to each communication immediately. I loved working with her on our custom oil painting. I would highly recommend her and look forward to working with her again. Thank you Heather - my husband loved this surprise anniversary painting!

    ― Suzanne, California on Hammy

  • lab maltese oil painting
    My daughter, Laura and I were so excited and pleased with the painting that Heather did of her two dogs, Spoonie and Millie. Heather is so easy to work with, and I really liked that she gave me frequent updates on the painting so that I could see how the project was progressing. She is an amazing artist! I have continued to follow her on Facebook and always enjoy seeing the projects that she is currently working on.

    ― Sharon, Louisiana on Spoonie and Millie