On a lazy, sunny morning, Noel Roberts is glancing around his yard searching for a stray cat that’s been hanging around his back door, along with her three kittens.
He thinks Mama may have belonged to an elderly neighbor that has since died. Two of her kittens look suspiciously like a tiger-striped male cat that lives down the block; the third kitten looks just like Mama.
“First thing we’re going to do is catch them,” Roberts says, who wants to find homes for Mama and her babies.
A painter of animals, the Oak Lawn artist’s personalized portraits capture the souls of pets that glance at you over time.
A life-long Southsider, Roberts grew up in Back-of-the-Yards when it was smelly and cows and pigs were still being slaughtered at Chicago Union Stockyard.
“My gram worked for a meat packing place cutting pigs and hogs,” he said.
Roberts started drawing as a little kid and took art classes in high school and college.
“I didn’t major in it because I didn’t want to be a starving artist,” he said.
Instead, Roberts trained for the business world, earning his associate’s degree in business management from Moraine Valley Community College, transferring to Roosevelt University where he completed his bachelor’s. He spent the next 30 years working in information technology as a program analyst.
“I was let go from the last place I worked at after being there for ten years,” Roberts said. “I found out that I’m out of the market as far as what they’re looking for … now I’m a starving program analyst.”
Roberts paints off of clients’ photographs of pets and family members, and from his own travels. He hopes to turn his artwork into a business.
“I’m just trying to get my name out there,” Roberts said, who contacted Oak Lawn Patch on Facebook. “I thought, let’s try the art business to see if I can pull it off.”
It’s the dogs and cats that he likes painting best. The latest addition to the family is a 5-month-old golden retriever named Dylan. He says not all goldens—or any breed of pup—are the same.
“The main thing you got to do is capture the shape of the head,” Roberts said. “Golden retrievers all have different shaped heads. You don’t want the eyes to be wrong because then it doesn’t look like a [client’s] dog. I give the eyes that little glitter so it looks like the dog is looking at you.”
Roberts works on canvas, paper, walls and glass, using oils, acrlycis and watercolors. He can also build you a wine rack.
A pet portrait on a wine glass or Christmas ornament is $50; a doggie cookie jar is $75. Paintings on canvas are individually priced, depending on what the person wants.
View, purchase and commission a work from Roberts at these upcoming shows:
- Saturday, May 20 -- May 20th - Mokena Community Park District’s 14th Annual Woofstock: A Bark in the Park, at 10925 LaPorte Road, Mokena. From 1 to 4 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 23 – U.S. Bones Tailgating Party and Adoption event in the DD Industries parking lot, 4040 S. Normal Ave., before the Chicago White Sox Dog Day. Party features lIve music, games and raffles, costume contest, training tips, and more throughout the day. $5 donation at the gate. Noon to 6 p.m.
- Saturday, June 16 -- 2nd annual Pet-Palooza at the Orland Township Administration Center, 14807 Ravinia Ave., Orland Park. Noon to 3 p.m.
Email artist Noel Roberts at email@example.com or check out his gallery at Personalized Art Work, aptly known as “The P.A.W.”
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