The Original Four – Dusty, Iko, Pearl & Gracie


I recently had the privilege of painting the “original four” fur babies of Robert and Tammy –  Dusty, Iko, Pearl and Gracie. Sadly, their physical presence has left this world, but their spirits live on. This is their story…..


Tammy first met Dusty when one of their clients brought him to the Vet’s office where she worked. He had sinus issues and the family decided they didn’t want to spend any more money on the care necessary to treat Dusty’s sinus condition. Tammy’s big heart fell for Dusty immediately and she happily welcomed him into her home. Enter Robert into Tammy’s life. Dusty didn’t take a liking to Robert and he had no problem showing his dislike by staring Robert down and miaowing at him. Robert is not sure what Dusty was telling him, but Robert can imitate that meow perfectly, which he describes as a terrible smoker’s meow from his “smashed-in” face. Dusty would only pee on paper. And, he demanded it be changed daily. He would scowl at you if you gave him 1% milk when he was expecting 2%. Simply put, Dusty was a real pain in the ass. In the end, he warmed up to Robert and befriended a feral cat.


Iko found her people at the San Francisco SPCA. She was Robert and Tammy’s first dog as a couple. Iko’s energy was boundless and she lived 110% for food. She was always on the prowl for something to eat. And she certainly wasn’t picky when it came to food. Iko also enjoyed running on the beach and going for walks, but no matter how much they exercised her, Robert and Tammy could never tire her out. Lastly, Iko loved food. Have I mentioned that yet? She cared more about eating than she did about her people. Iko mellowed out in her older years, but still, she looooooooved her food.


Pearl was the opposite of Iko. She loved people. Lots of people. But she especially loved her people. She loved sleeping in their bed. Snuggling on the couch. Getting attention and praise for how beautiful she was. Her eyes were always ready and willing to meet yours. She was not at all shy about asking you to scratch her butt and she was certainly the most obstinate of the bunch. Pearl had no fear and was happy to do her job as the original office greeter at Grateful Dog Daycare. Her nickname was Pearl the Squirrel.


Gracie was a cool cat. She was a rock star. She owned the block and was friends with many of the neighbors and strangers. Robert and Tammy met Gracie outside their apartment when they lived in San Francisco. They fell in love with Gracie’s big and bold personality and that cool attitude, and soon, she became part of their family. Gracie loved to play and get a little frisky and once in a while would attempt to play with Dusty. He was never interested in playing. Dusty was never interested in Gracie. He might have been the only one happy the night Gracie wandered out and never came back.

Since these original four, Robert and Tammy have had many more cats and dogs enter their home and into their hearts. Including a feral cat named Maddy, who, unlike Gracie, was Dusty’s best friend.


Limited edition – Heart & Soul

Ayutthaya, Thailand

An hour north of Bangkok lies the City of Ayutthaya, the original capital of Thailand. Rich in history, Ayutthaya has many ancient temples, most of which lie in ruins. Near the entrance to the temple site of Wat Phra Mahathat is a famous tree. Embedded amidst the roots at the base of the tree is the face of a Buddha carved out of stone. The honor of witnessing the details and intricacies of this sacred tree in person left a deep and meaningful impression on me.

A seed was planted for a future painting.

I started this painting in 2014, one month after my grandma passed away. Consumed with grief, I felt compelled to paint something other than my commissions. I was transported back to Wat Phra Mahathat. Where I had felt tremendous peace. As I worked paint into the canvas, I felt sadness and happiness, confusion and clarity, music and silence. With each stroke of my palette knife, I felt the ebb and flow of the tree roots surrounding the face of the Buddha. And, when I finally paused, I realized I had transformed my grief into an array of monochromatic blues and grays. I hung the painting in a place where I could see it every day. At the time, it embodied peace, rest, and tranquility.


Born out of love, strength and connection.

Not unlike the love of my grandmother, there’s something profound about the way the tree roots embrace the Buddha’s face, the way she had embraced me. The roots wrap around and intertwine, flowing into and alongside one another and seem to have a life force and strength of their own. The bark of the tree, with nicks, grooves, dirt, and moss covering the rings of time, tell a story, much like that of my grandma’s life. The heart of the tree is the Buddha’s face. And, it is there that I found a quiet, restful peace.

It restored my inner strength.

I returned to this canvas after deciding to enter the 2015 KVIE Art Auction. Once I placed it on my easel, I began to see it in a much different light. I played with the texture of the roots and fiddled with lines. As I painted and the layers grew, I began to feel warmth and color flowing into the misty beautiful blues that once flooded the canvas with sadness and tears. Now they peek through as a symbol of love. I saw the roots as veins and arteries connected to a beating heart. The heart of the Buddha, the heart of my grandma. And, cradled in the root’s embrace was the soul, firmly rooted into the ground.

And that’s how I came to name this painting, Heart and Soul.

Heart and Soul

Collection: Personal work 2010 – 2015
Printed on:  Hahnemuhle Photo Rag | 308 g 100% cotton rag paper | Archival Pigments
Original: Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches
Year: 2015

Print size 18 x 18 inches | Paper size 22 x 22 inches | Edition of 25 plus 2 AP | $395
Print size 15 x 15 inches | Paper size 19 x 19 inches | Edition of 50 plus 5 AP | $195
Print size 12 x 12 inches | Paper size 16 x 16 inches | Edition of 100 plus 10 AP | $95

Limited Editions:
Museum quality archival prints are available unframed.
All prints are signed, titled and numbered in pencil by the artist, Nikki Solone.
Listed edition numbers are final, no more prints will be produced for sale once all are sold out.
Each print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.

This edition is released in honor of Florence Solone and dedicated to all the grandmothers whose hearts and souls are rooted deeply in our veins.

Email Nikki to place your order.


Limited edition – Morning at Great Pond

Morning at Great Pond

This painting was inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem, Morning at Great Pond. The original is nearly 7 feet wide and was painted in a tiny dorm room in college. Limited edition canvas prints start at $375.


It starts like this:
forks of light
slicking up
out of the east,
flying over you,
and what’s left of night–
its black waterfalls,
its craven doubt —
dissolves like gravel
as the sun appears
trailing clouds
of pink and green wool,
igniting the fields,
turning the ponds
to plates of fire.
The creatures there
are dark flickerings
you make out
one by one
as the light lifts —
great blue herons,
wood ducks shaking
their shimmering crests —
and knee-deep
in the purple shallows
a deer drinking:
as she turns
the silver water
crushes like silk,
shaking the sky,
and you’re healed then
from the night, your heart
wants more, you’re ready
to rise and look!
to hurry anywhere!
to believe in everything.

~American Primitive: Poems
by Mary Oliver

Collection: Personal work 1997 – 2001
Printed on:  Epson Premier Satin Canvas | Archival Pigments
Original: Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 83 inches
Year: 2000

Canvas print size 40 x 52 inches | Edition of 50 plus 5 AP | $1950
Canvas print size 32 x 40 inches | Edition of 100 plus 10 AP | $1150
Canvas print size 20 x 25 inches | Edition of 150 plus 10 AP | $375

Limited Editions:
Museum quality archival canvas prints are stretched on wooden bars, ready for hanging. No framing necessary.
All prints are signed, titled and numbered by the artist, Nikki Solone.
Listed edition numbers are final, no more prints will be produced for sale once all are sold out.
Each print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Email Nikki to place your order.


Ming Su and Ming Tu

Ming Tu

I believe this was my first pet portrait. It was recently discovered within my Grandma’s treasures, and was made for her 65th birthday when I was 15. Ming Tu was my Grandma’s “beautiful sable-coated, sapphire-eyed Siamese cat” and was named after her first Siamese cat, Ming Su.

Ming Tu (1994) | 9×12″ | Colored pencil on paper

Phyllis Diller look-a-like?


Meet Bailey! A spunky Maltese/chihuahua/poodle. Basically, she’s a big fuzz ball of love and it’s possible that I used a few photos of Phyllis Diller for inspiration. It’s been a pleasure to meet her and capture her personality in this portrait.

Bailey (2015) | 12×12″ | Oil on canvas