MarySue Krueger has always had a love of art, but it took her teenage children being … well, teenagers … to put her on the path to making a career out of it. The longtime Eden Prairie resident creates watercolor paintings of dogs, cats, horses, bunnies, etc., capturing each animal’s individual spirit for their adoring pet parents.
“Even as a little girl, I loved drawing and coloring,” said Krueger. She spent a year studying art in college, but the en vogue art of that time did not match Krueger’s realistic style, so she hung up her brushes for the moment.
“Then, after my son was born 40-plus years ago, I started watercolor painting,” she recalled.
Her subjects varied as she tried her hand at people, still life and landscapes. But when she attempted to hang a painting she had done of her two children, the teenagers would hear nothing of it. Krueger acquiesced and turned her sights to the family dog.
It turned out to be a fateful move as it was her pet portraits that seemed to capture the interest of potential patrons. “I always painted our dogs and put them on our Christmas cards each year,” she said. “I called them our Holly Dogs.
“Friends have told me they’ve saved every Holly Dogs card over the years.”
Inspired by her work, people began reaching out to ask if she’d paint their pets.
“I resonate with painting animals,” said Krueger. “I love capturing their spirit.”
The wonder of watercolor
Krueger said watercolor is a great medium for doing just that. “It’s a great start for the softness of an animal’s fur.” Watercolor is also forgiving, Krueger said. “It can be just as forgiving as animals are.”
Krueger works from photographs for her paintings. “I can work with just about any photograph,” she said, noting that she loves to learn more about the pet to help her in the process. Krueger also prefers to get multiple photos of the subject. “I like to take those and bring out the best I can.”
Krueger’s commissions skew largely toward dog paintings, with Labrador Retrievers being among the most popular. “Doodles are coming on strong now,” she said.
Krueger enjoys the challenge of capturing a dog’s personality. “All dogs have eyebrows,” she said. “There’s so much in those eyebrows. I love finding that, capturing that.”
‘Until it’s done’
The biggest compliment she can receive when her work is complete are tears from a grateful recipient or an exclamation of “You captured him perfectly!”
Krueger’s paintings range from $100 for a 5×7 to $700 for an 18×24. She charges extra for more than one animal in a painting.
Each piece can take Krueger from a couple of days to a week or longer, depending on size and complexity. “I always say until it’s done,” said Krueger. “I’ll paint, put it up on the mantle and assess it and then paint some more.”
Commissions have been pretty consistent for Krueger, keeping her busy in her home studio. “I’ve always got something going on on my easel.”
For more information, visit MarySueKrueger.com.
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