Jane Chiang has drawn dogs from all around the world, but rarely does she get to see people react to her bright and whimsical pooch portraits.
"I always send people the drawings over email," she explains.
That's why it was so moving for her to watch Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) staff break into tears when she presented them last month with a drawing of Lola, a one-year-old pit bull who has been at the shelter for some time.
"I showed two of the staff at the front desk," she recalls. "They saw it and they had tears right away. I was like, 'Oh my God, this is the cutest moment ever.'"
That emotional response repeated itself a few more times as staff came over to see the piece. "It feels really amazing," Chiang says. "It's not much; it's just a drawing, but you know they're happy with what you did."
Lindsay Suckling, executive director at WAG, says the gift came as a total surprise. "We had no idea she was creating this for us," Suckling writes in an email. "When we opened the piece, all of us instantly welled up with happy tears. We were so moved because we love Lola so much and it was so special to see that other people love her as well. Even people who haven't met Lola love her and are rooting for her to find a family. Jane captured Lola's true beauty in the drawing. It is perfect."
Chiang came up with the idea for the piece after working with Whistler dog trainer Renee Erdman from Bravo Dog Training to help her dog overcome fearful aggression.
"Renee the trainer (and I) wanted it to be a surprise for WAG staff and we wanted more recognition for Lola," she says.
This isn't Chiang's first dog drawing.
In 2005, she moved to Vancouver from Taiwan where her art training had mostly been focused on recreating realistic images.
"We were taught you draw what you see. But here it's different; you can use your imagination. You can do anything here. I wasn't used to this style," she says.
To that end, she began to develop her own style, using skills she learned while studying computer modelling at school to draw on a tablet with a stylus.
"I started copying everything and changing the lighting and adding more colour," she says.
As a dog walker and a dog owner, she was naturally drawn to dogs as subjects and slowly began to build up commissions. "Two years went on and I finally have the style I have now and started doing drawings full time," she says.
Her company is called Drawn to Doggos and she has attracted clients from Taiwan to the U.S., who have found her mainly on social media. There have also been quite a few commissions from Whistler.
"There are a lot of people who love their dogs so much," she says. "They find me and they're so excited."
Meanwhile, WAG is still looking for the perfect place to hang its new art. "If any local business would like to help us frame it, that would be amazing," Suckling adds. "WAG supporters loved it! Lola has a big following as well and we are hoping this drawing might catch the attention of her forever home."