Monique Westra’s story is different from that of most artists. Although art had always been in her life, her passion was largely devoted to art history rather than the practice of studio art. For over thirty years, she was a well-known curator, writer, speaker and teacher in Calgary. Most recently she was a senior art curator at the Glenbow Museum. But, something was missing. As she was surrounded by art and artists all the time, she began to yearn for a creative outlet for herself. So while Monique was still a curator in her professional life, secretly she was gradually turning into an artist. For years, she spent her evenings and weekends in classes with different instructors, quietly honing her skill with oil on canvas. Then, in the spring of 2011, a wonderful young dog changed her life. Murphy was a huge and scruffy 11 month-old Goldendoodle puppy when the Westra family adopted him. It was a photograph of him on a pebbled beach in Victoria that was the inspiration for her first dog portrait. Now, this Calgary-based artist has been painting dogs and cats on commission for over ten years and could not be happier. She specializes in original and individualized portraits that capture the unique personality of her dog and cat subjects. She understands that a portrait of a beloved dog or cat is truly meaningful to its family, bringing with it a lot of joy and memories for its family.