Jessie Mott ('02): A Passion for a Dog's Life

Snapshots of Steinhardt

Jessie Mott ('02): A Passion for a Dog's Life

It has been said that we don’t choose our passions, they choose us. As an undergraduate in Steinhardt’s studio art program, Jessie Mott painted pictures with animal themes.

“I have always had a sincere love and respect for all animals, and would often find myself wondering about their interior world, what they are thinking and feeling,” Mott says.

When she graduated, Mott continued to paint animal portraits “just for fun.” She painted a hamster, and then she painted her Bernese Mountain dog, Louie.

A pet portraiture business took off after the artist launched her own website,, and was featured in Domino Magazine, a new Conde Nast publication. Mott has since painted on live television (WABC’s Good Day New York), and has been flooded with e-mails from people who want to commission paintings.

Her paintings are in demand, she believes, because they’re not “conventional, photo-realistic renderings dripping with sentimentality.”

“I’m careful not to cross the line of being hokey because pet portraiture can certainly be construed that way,” Mott says. “I want the paintings to be more on the eccentric side, bringing out the idiosyncrasies of my subjects.”

Perhaps, too, they are in demand because they are quiet, mysterious, and deep — like the animals Mott has set out to immortalize.