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Local artist goes viral for prismatic portraits of pets

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) - A local artist has gone viral for her unique watercolor paintings of animals. Shaunna Russell was recently featured on a major publication's social media pages: Insider. 

The mom of two, or four if you count her cat and dog, spends five days a week inside her Hamburg home studio, turning photos of people's pets in to prismatic portraits. When News 4 visited her house, she was working on a French Bulldog, one of her favorite breeds to paint. 

"I love painting their wrinkles," she said. 

Before she starts, she asks for a few photos of your pet, and about the personality of the animal. She works on a special clay surface that allows her to get more fine details in the painting. And then she brings the animal to life. 

"When people get their art, they don't just see art, they see their animal... the eyes of their pet."

And her niche of painting rainbow pets has recently put her under a huge spotlight. 

"It has just ballooned," she said. 

About a week and half ago, she was featured on a publication with more than a million social media followers. Insider features interesting people from across the world. 

"I actually had one of their video producers follow my Instagram, because she has a dog and she liked my style, so she pitched it to one of their editors, and they approached me," she said. "It was just really cool."

Russell had already been sending her watercolors across the world, but after the Insider video, business exploded. 

Today, she has more than 40,000 followers on Instagram. 

"I got hundreds and hundreds of emails, (and) thousands of followers adding on to my Instagram," she said, after the Insider story came out. "It was hard to keep up with at first, but it was really flattering, and it was a really cool experience."

Russell, who always had an interest in art and animals, didn't go to school for anything art related. Instead she chose communications. But she's showing others, if you chose to chase your dreams, you can turn a blank canvass into something incredible. 

"I could not ask for a better job, honestly."

For more information on Shaunna Russell and her work, click here. 


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