August 4, 2021

“The Art of the Dog” Is Returning to Morven

“GRACIE”: Debra Lampert-Rudman’s portrait of a Boykin Spaniel named Gracie is among the many examples of her talent for dog portraiture. She’ll teach a special workshop August 21 at Morven.

By Anne Levin

When she isn’t overseeing exhibits at Morven, Debra Lampert-Rudman, the museum’s curator of education and public programs, is breeding, showing, and painting dogs — her own, mostly, but also on commission.

Canines and the art they inspire are more than just a hobby for Lampert-Rudman.  She is a breeder of cocker spaniels, and currently owns four. One of her dogs came in second in the Grand Champion category at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last year.

Lampert-Rudman has shown her artwork at a Manhattan gallery, and has taught for several years at the Arts Council of Princeton. Last winter, she led a virtual workshop at Morven inspired by the animal portraiture in the museum’s exhibition, “In Nature’s Realm: The Art of Gerard Rugers Hardenbergh.”

She’ll offer the three-hour workshop again on August 21. This time, it will be in person at Morven’s Stockton Education Center. “This will be the first event we’ve had up close [since the pandemic],” Lampert-Rudman said last week. “We’ll be super spaced out in the gathering space.”

Registrants have until August 10 to sign up. “I need to know in advance, because each person gives me a photo of their dog,” she said. “Then I provide them with a traced image on archival watercolor paper, and we all learn how to use watercolor pencil and brush techniques. Last time, the results were incredible and everyone was pretty happy with how their dogs came out.”

Lampert-Rudman has been creating her art since she was a small child. “I believe everyone is an artist,” she said. “People have either been encouraged when they were young, or they haven’t. Getting people back to that is what I love to do.”

Participants in the workshop will get a brief introduction to the history of dog portraiture. “Queen Victoria is where it all began,” Lampert-Rudman said. “With her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, she started the whole craze. The older traditional dog paintings are amazing.”

Every one of Lampert-Rudman’s dogs — at one time, she had 11 — has been the subject of one of her paintings or ceramics. Then there are the commissions. At one point, she was doing representations of several dogs that had passed away. That presented a challenge.

“I’d hear the stories, but couldn’t take pictures of them, or meet them,” she said. “And you really have to capture the essence. It’s all in the eyes. If you get the eyes right, you’ve got the dog.”

The Hardenbergh exhibit that inspired the workshop includes more representations of birds and fish than dogs. “But there are some paintings of his dog, who he adored, and lived maybe more than 20 years,” Lampert-Rudman said. “That’s outstanding for a dog, especially one living on a houseboat with an artist.”

The August 21 workshop is from 1-4 p.m. and costs $60 ($45 for Morven members) including the image on archival watercolor paper without supplies; $85 and $70 including supplies. Group size is limited. For complete details, email

“I’m so happy to be able to bring this to people through the museum,” said Lampert-Rudman. “And to be able to have a connection to the Hardenbergh show is really special.”