North Texas Daily

Jkaye Creations captures pet memories through art

Jkaye Creations captures pet memories through art

Jkaye Creations captures pet memories through art
June 04
12:30 2021

From mid-2017 to March 2020, Denton resident Jenna Critchlow could be found working at Painting with a Twist, teaching a “Paint Your Pet” class. Now, one year later, she is found at a booth in Red Yard’s Market selling custom pet portraits to pet lovers across the metroplex. 

When working at Painting with a Twist, Critchlow discovered her niche in the art world, which includes painting pet portraits, although she has been enthralled with art for as long as she remembers. 

“That was just how I was born,” she said. “I do not remember a time when I was not creating some form of art.”

Her business, Jkaye Creations (@jkayecreations on Instagram), was created to give her a platform to share her passion for art and animals. The business name came to be in 2011 while she was enrolled at UNT in the drawing and painting program, but after graduating with her second degree in fashion design last year, she turned it into an online business and website to share her work with others. 

“It’s a subject matter that is enjoyable,” Critchlow said. “I love [animals] — they’re cute and fluffy, so it’s not a heavy subject matter. It’s a good diversion from all the heavy things in the world.”

Pet art has always been prominent, Critchlow said, because of its ability to capture a moment in time, especially before photography came into existence. 

“Recently, I think pet art has become more iconic because people are having more pets now, and kind of, not idolizing them, but acknowledging the significance of having pets in the family, and the art and enjoyment,” Critchlow said. “So it kind of ties back together to the modern-day family and capturing those precious moments.”

When fulfilling an order, Critchlow handles the entire process, from answering questions on social media to painting on the canvas. When an order is placed, she starts by talking to the customer to see what they are looking for regarding style, size and other details, then starts to put it together. 

When constructing a piece, the process begins with Critchlow opening the image and cropping it to the size of the canvas she plans on using. She then edits the photo to improve the brightness and contrast, then sketches the image on the canvas. Starting with the background, she strikes the canvas with her brush to bring the pets’ faces to life. When the piece is done, she sends it to the client for final approval, makes any edits, then sends it off to the customer, while “packing it with love.”

“It comes back to what really matters in the world, and for me it’s those personal connections, and that’s what keeps me going,” Critchlow said. “Every single person who I interact with who ends up buying a piece or sharing with their friends and family, and everyone has a story.”

Aside from her online presence, Critchlow attends pop-up events throughout Denton to promote her products and address customers face-to-face. The most recent event she attended was the Red Yard Market on Sunday, where she set up a booth. 

Critchlow’s friends, such as Lavon resident Sara Truhitte, said they have seen her business grow from an abstract idea to a tangible business model during 2020.

“In a world that has recently divided people into ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ categories, I think we have all discovered that everyone is essential,” Truhitte said. “We are fortunate enough to live in an age where beauty, art in all its forms and exploratory fields are possible.”

Truhitte also said she can see Critchlow’s fastidious nature, years of skill development and pure love for color, texture and form in every piece she produces. 

Another one of Critchlow’s friends and supporters, Frisco resident Shalisa Irby, said she supports Jkaye Creations because of the unique business model and sentiment behind her handmade creations.

“[Jkaye Creations] has grown more into a niche now,” Irby said. “She has defined her customer and expanded marketing a lot through social media and markets.”

In addition to creating pet portraits, Critchlow also is a fashion designer who creates artistic streetwear, and she is able to incorporate her drawing and painting skills into her fashion pieces through a variety of textile and surface design techniques.

“If the world didn’t have art, it would not be appealing,” Critchlow said. “And obviously I’m biased because I’m an artist, but there’s nowhere that you interact with the world that doesn’t have art. For me, in my small business, I take that principle that art makes life enjoyable, and I bring that creativity and that joy into my work.”

Going forward, Critchlow hopes to become a full-time sustainable small business, like other artists who work off of a waitlist and wake up every day to paint. 

“For the next generation of small business owners who are wanting to get into small business, I would say do take all the time to explore all of those things, explore all of the ideas, because time is the most precious thing that we have, and I would just hate to move forward and not have explored all of those options,” Critchlow said.

Local artist Jenna Kaye holds up one of her pieces while running a booth at Red’s Yard on May 30, 2021. Image by John Anderson

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Maria Lawson

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