Meet a Member: Tillie the Dog Fetches Up to $2,000 for Her Art!
The 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier, full name Tillamook Cheddar, after her owner's favorite cheese, has been churning out impressive works on paper since she was a puppy, and her pieces have been shown in prestigious galleries around the world and have fetched up to $2,000.
"She's just so crazy about doing it," says Tillie's owner, Bowman Hastie, as PEOPLE Pets watched Tillie work at their home studio in Brooklyn. "It started out as something to do for fun, but Tillie's zeal just perpetuated it."
Tillie creates her masterpieces with a little help from Hastie, who humbly refers to himself as Tillie's assistant. He covers a watercolor canvas with paint, adds a layer of vellum paper and a top layer of Mylar and hands it over to an eager Tillie, who goes to work biting, scratching, licking and pawing at her creation for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. After she's done Hastie unwraps the Mylar and vellum paper to reveal her masterpiece below, an abstract work in a style some have compared to Jackson Pollack.
How did Hastie discover Tillie's talent? By accident, of course. He was writing in a yellow legal pad when Tillie, then about five months old, came over to him and started scratching at it. Sensing her interest, he grabbed a piece of carbon paper he had around the apartment and put it under a sheet in the legal pad. He let her scratch away and was amazed by the image it left underneath.
"I was impressed with how fully she had saturated the page, using only her tiny puppy claws, with the pigment from the carbon paper," Hastie wrote in the book he penned about Tillie, Portrait of the Dog As a Young Artist.
Hastie says he's often asked what he thinks goes through Tillie's mind when she's at work, and the truth is he isn't exactly sure. "When people watch her work, they often say she looks possessed, but does she know what she's doing? I don't exactly know. She doesn't necessarily think, 'I'm an artist,' but I do think she considers it to be her job."
No matter what goes through her head, one thing is certain: Tillie is a success. She had her first gallery show when she was just a puppy, sponsored by one of Hastie's artist friends, and her work has been displayed publicly ever since. She is currently participating in a group show featuring all animal artists at the Galiere SAW Gallery in Ontario, and just completed a one-dog retrospective at The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, in Florida.
But like any great artist, Tillie doesn't work for the fame and fortune. For her, it's all about the creative process.
"She just hangs out in her little workstation waiting to paint," says Hastie. "She's just passionate about what she does."
Click here to become friends with Bowman Hastie and Tillie on PEOPLE Pets!
See more amazing animals on PEOPLE Pets:
Chimp Artists Make a Colorful Splash in a Louisiana Art Exhibit
Goal! Soccer-Playing Swine Score Big in the U.K.