Retiree discovers his artistic side, now draws pet portraits

click to enlarge Retiree discovers his artistic side, now draws pet portraits
(Submitted photo)
Artist Tom Schultz says he started drawing animals because he was bored during the pandemic. Now pet owners hire him to do commissions.

On a day when he decided to take a break from his normal routines of playing golf, running through the neighborhood or cycling through Dove Mountains paved paths, Tom Schultz discovered the bigger picture.

Or, in this case, the 8-by-11-inch picture.

When a hooded oriole chirped in Schultz’s backyard, he couldn’t help but become intrigued. The bird’s yellow feathers stood out against the green golf course in the background.

“I thought, I will just waste some time and try to draw them,” he said.

What started as a hobby to pass the time during quarantine has developed into a hidden talent that surprised even Schultz.

“It just kind of came out of nowhere within the last year and a half basically because I was bored during the pandemic and needed something to do,” he said.

Schultz, who is retired, had no prior experience with birds or drawing. He said he went to Walmart to buy a 72-pack of pencils and a notepad and started drawing photos of birds that he found in books or on the internet.

After drawing roughly three dozen birds and sharing his artwork with friends, a close friend suggested he draw a photo of his border collie Louie, who had recently died. That was Schultz’s transition from birds into dogs.

Schultz decided to draw a photo of his niece’s dog to send to her, and after a positive reaction, he drew photos for his other nieces as well.

“It’s just kind of grown from there,” he said. Neighbors and friends around the country were asking for pictures of their dogs.

Schultz has been selling his drawings for around 15 months. He plans on donating some of the commission he gets from his artwork to the Pima Animal Care Center (PACC). He wants to put the donations in the commissioners’ name so they can use the donation for tax deduction.

Schultz has had a few dogs in his lifetime. He had beagles as a kid, and didn’t have a love for dogs again until he met his wife Jori, who had a rottweiler named Oliver. “I fell in love with that dog, and I became a dog person again after that,” he said.

Shultz now has Jackson, a 3-year-old border collie that Shultz rescued from the Border Collie Rescue. After meeting the dog in Casa Grande this March, both Tom and Lori decided that Jackson was the one.

“We ended up getting him the next day,” he said.

Shultz said the challenge of making the drawings and the heartfelt reactions he gets from his clients inspires him to continue with the work.

Each drawing takes anywhere from four to six hours depending on the size and the number of dogs. He uses 8-by-11-inch or 9-by-12-inch copy paper to make the piece easily framable and inexpensive for the customer, who receives the drawing in a plastic jacket folder. Schultz likes to then put the plastic casing into a large manila envelope for a dramatic reveal.

“I love to see their faces light up or a tear come in their eye for how much they love their pets.” Schultz said.

Email Tom at to inquire about getting a drawing of your dog, cat, horse or bird.

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