Aimée has been painting custom animal portraits professionally since 1999. Her work has been seen in numerous publications, featured on national television, and hangs in the collections of animal lovers all over the world, including best-selling authors, movie/TV producers, and celebrities.

Aimée’s first scribbles were of bears, horses and tigers. If it had four paws and fuzzy ears, it was in her sketchbook. Or preferably on her lap. Her deep love of animals, and early interest in drawing, only grew throughout young adulthood.

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Art from California State Long Beach in 1992, Aimée continued to draw and paint on the side while she held down various day jobs. Although she sold the occasional landscape or figurative painting at local group art shows, early gallery feedback was consistent: she had talent, but was too “fickle” a painter. She was strongly encouraged to find a subject she liked enough to explore as an entire series. Or, as one gallery owner put it, “Find something that sticks in your craw.” At the time, Aimée knew that landscapes weren’t her artistic passion, but she wasn’t sure what was. So she kept painting.

But in 1999, Aimée finally returned to a subject that deeply interested her—animals—when she was asked to paint a portrait of a friend’s dog. The resulting painting lead to a successful 13 year career as a pet portrait artist, during which Aimée created over 130 custom paintings for clients all over the world. She even enjoyed a few TV appearances.

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Aimée unveils her latest work on The Bonnie Hunt Show (NBC)

Custom pet portraits, 1999-2012 | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover

Custom pet portraits, 1999-2012 | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover

In 2012, after a decade of painting mostly canines, Aimée decided it was time to switch gears and try some new animal subjects. She had always found inspiration in photography, so she began poking around on photo sharing sites:

I was looking for an animal called a takin (a cross between a goat and an antelope). I hadn’t come across a takin portrait before and thought it would make a unique subject. But while researching the animal, I ended up coming across a stunning photo of a goat with a long, white beard. I instantly wanted to paint it. So I emailed the photographer—a total stranger in Austria, Germany—who, surprisingly, was nice enough to give me permission to use his image. In fact he was really excited that I chose it, which made the process even more fun…

Goat, 2012 | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 44in x 46in | Acrylic on stretched canvas

Goat, 2012 | ©Aimée Rolin Hoover | 44in x 46in | Acrylic on stretched canvas

Suddenly a new series of animal portraits was born, as well as a new process for finding inspiration: for each new painting, Aimée might review over 40,000 reference photos before she lands on one image that “clicks.” Then she reaches out to the photographer, typically making a new friend in the process.

Aimée‘s intention with her current work is to elevate the animal’s importance by portraying them in more human/heroic portrait style, keeping a singular focus on the animal. Her hope is that she continues to work with talented photographers around the world, and that this series encourages others to look at animals—domesticated and otherwise—as the sensitive, sentient beings they are.

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When not in the studio, Aimée can be found devouring large stacks of home decor magazines and indulging her Nespresso addiction. She currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and their cat, Sesame.