EAGLEVILLE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Joe Brewer's home art studio is filled with sketches of people's precious pets, including Biscuit, a mixed-breed dog Brewer refers to as a "mystery mutt."
He's drawn all kinds of breeds for his business called Pet Portraits by Joe Brewer, based in Eagleville, Pennsylvania.
Brewer says he offers "smiles" and "sometimes a closure" for people who have pets that have passed away. And he says although his work can be an "emotional roller coaster," he wouldn't have it any other way.
He and his wife, Rosemary, started this second act together back in 2018, alongside their golden retriever Malia, a rescue from South Korea.
"We ended up seeing her and love at first sight. Now she's our mascot," says Brewer.
Rosemary runs the business, while Joe's tapping into artistic talents that had been on the back burner for decades.
"I went to Hussian College of Art in Philadelphia, which is a four-year program, where I was an illustrator/designer," he says.
Brewer briefly worked in the art field, but then got into sales for the next 45 years.
He says that sales experience helped when they started traveling to higher end art and craft shows for this venture.
"I do something unusual," says Brewer.
Instead of using oils or watercolors, he uses pastel on an 800 UART sanded paper to give his work a different, more three-dimensional look.
"It looks like the pet's coming right off the page," he says.
He says he draws "mostly dogs and cats and horses," but he'll draw other animals too, like Sombra, an alpaca.
He says the puppy to adulthood portraits have become popular with clients.
When doing a pet portrait, Brewer asks for three photos.
"And then I give them a pencil sketch layout, just to show composition only, no detail," he says.
Right now, he's finishing Cooper's portrait.
"Cooper is a yellow lab and he used to love to swim at the Stone Harbor," says Brewer.
When working on portraits, he gives his clients what he calls a "sneak peek from the drawing board."
"I'll give them 50% of their fur baby and send it to them to make sure that we're on the same sheet of music," says Brewer.
Then, he says he sends a little bit more of the drawing over the course of a few days, "so they're actually seeing their fur baby done in real time."
Rosemary says Joe takes the time to talk to his clients and "cares about their animals."
"It's a personal touch that they don't get a lot of places," she says.
Brewer says he enjoys the excitement of "bringing the fur baby to life again."
"It's a fun business to be in," he says.
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