A Face In The Crowd 

Pattie Burkitt was having dinner at Macaroni Grill with her church supper group back in 1995 when she started doodling with crayons on the tabletop butcher paper. “I was drawing one of the group members, and one of the ladies said, ‘You’ve got to do portraits.’ So I did one of her granddaughter.” That’s actually one of the few people portraits the Tom Joy Elementary School art teacher has ever done. After that, she put pastels to paper to capture the likeness of her first dog. Next thing she knew, a fellow crooner in the Nashville Symphony Chorus asked her to draw his cat. Then, when she was pet-sitting for her neighbor, she drew the cat as a welcome home surprise for the family. The commissions started rolling in, becoming significant enough that Burkitt got a business license. Now her weekends and holidays are often consumed with holing up in her home studio to craft colorful depictions of furry four-leggeds. “I truly love doing it,” says Burkitt, who can’t remember a time when she wasn’t interested in art, specifically animal art. “One of the first books I had taught me how to draw horses,” she says. Typically, Burkitt works from photographs her clients provide, but she often visits her subjects personally and takes her own pictures so she has a better shot at capturing the animal’s personality. Though she’s yet to be commissioned for unusual projects, Burkitt says she’d relish the chance to branch out from cats, dogs and horses. “If somebody ever wanted to hire me to do weird things like lizards, I’d love to do some of those.” But it would definitely have to be for hire, she says. “What do I really want to do with hanging a great big lizard in my house?” Got a beloved gecko? Call Burkitt at 646-5099.

—By Liz Murray Garrigan

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