Ocean View resident Abby Binder has started an unusual gig: painting pet portraits on wine bottles, rocks and recycled glass.
At first, the self-taught artist wasn’t that confident about the results, but friends encouraged her to sell her work. “I appreciate that people believe in me, when I didn’t myself,” she said.
She sells her Abbyriginal art on her Facebook page, starting at $35.
She has two sons and shares their home with Diamond, a rescue dog who was her first portrait.
Most portraits so far have been of dogs. “I grew up around dogs,” she said.
“I know the structure of their faces. I can picture them perfectly,” she said. “Every dog has a story, and when I paint the picture of the dog, I try to get a little bit of the backstory into the picture.”
She’s also done portraits of horses, birds, fish and wild creatures. “I’ll try anything. So if someone asks ‘Can you draw my iguana,’ I’ll try.”
So what about cats? “I’m working on my cat skills.”
Al Casapulla, owner of Al’s Subs, Steaks and Pizza, praised Binder’s portrait of his dog Wheeler. “What a beautiful keepsake,” he wrote on Facebook.
Some portraits are on pieces of glass given to her by neighbor Mike Owens, of Maid on the Moon Studio. She’s also bought Mexican beach pebbles from Michael McCarthy Stones, another neighbor.
Binder said she selected her offbeat media because she can’t afford canvases. “I started painting on rocks when I started to run out of wine bottles. And it first I was painting the rocks I found in my yard, but as you know there’s not a lot of rocks in Delaware. I am very lucky to live next to a stone place.”
She wanted to be an artist when she was young but was encouraged by her mother to instead focus on a career (nursing). “I locked away my sketches, my paintbrushes, everything until a couple of years ago as I was healing” after a 2015 accident.
She lately has decided to focus on what makes life beautiful, encouraged by local photographers Sam Markman, Kenneth Arni, Marilyn Heimlick and Maryfrances Berger.
“I love painting. I love animals,” Binder said. “I’m very passionate about them, and I think a lot of it does come out in my painting. You can see that I feel a connection to the dogs or the people who have lost dogs and to make something for somebody to remind them of their dog is a beautiful gift.”
“I realize that creating something beautiful and giving it to somebody else who also appreciated the beauty was awesome, and it gave me a sense of purpose.”