Artist Marna Schindler Paints Colorful Dogs, Cats, Nature, and More!

San diego dog artist marna schindler painter cats nature indian wells arts festival

Marna Schindler with her “Spirit of Indian Wells” painting, her winning submission for the featured artist award at the recent Indian Wells Arts Festival

This weekend (April 29-May 1) is a big event for San Diego art, The Mission Federal ArtWalk in Little Italy! What better time to introduce you to one of my favorite artists, one I’ve admired and chatted with at many San Diego ArtWalks over the years: Marna Schindler.

Marna paints bold, happy, colorful animal and nature scenes using acrylic paints on canvas. You can see her work at Wag’n Tails Coronado, Amici Pet Hospital, and at many art exhibitions throughout the year. Check out the custom commissioned fine art paintings of pets she has offered for the past ten(!) years at Doggonit Art.

I asked Marna a few questions to help us get to know her better, and she was kind enough to reply while preparing for her booth this weekend and being interviewed by local TV and radio stations this week. She is a busy woman!


Jen: Tell us a little about yourself: What do you do? What made you decide to start this career, how long have you been doing it, and what was your training like? How do you promote your art/business/self?

Marna: I’m blessed to be able to say “I’m a full-time artist.” I suppose I was a full-time artist before becoming a painter; I was an illustrator and graphic designer for various companies after I graduated in fine art from SDSU, but once I made the leap of faith to support myself as a painter it all felt very different. It’s been about ten years now that I’ve been an independent artist, showing my paintings at fine art shows and in galleries, and creating custom pieces for clients. In the beginning, I was a bit petrified to show my work and talk to folks, but as the years have gone by I’ve become somewhat of a chatterbox. I think I do that to cover up the fact that I’m a total social nerd. As far as training, my background as a graphic artist helped me immensely in communicating an idea or subject on canvas simply, and also in designing and creating my own marketing materials, reproductions of my artwork, designing and maintaining my websites, and creating mockups for my clients on custom projects. I receive most of my commissions for four-legged family members through referrals, and I usually have a waiting list. Between my furry commissions and the paintings I create for art shows and galleries, my paws are full, and once again, I count myself very, very blessed.


cats long hair San diego dog artist marna schindler painter cats nature

Marna’s cats, Natasha and Hopper

What made you choose animals as one of your main subjects? Do you have any pets?

Well, I’m a HUGE animal fan. Animals, number 1!! Yeah!!

Seriously though…I love animals. I could go on and on about animal advocacy and rights, and how so many things we take for granted of are at the exploitation of animals…but, yes, simply, I am for animals. As far as with whom do I share my home, I am very proud parent to two amazing felines, Hopper and Natasha. They are my muses and my helpers. They are my inspiration, and they have made my heart so much bigger. Growing up, I didn’t really have pets, but as an adult, as soon as I finally acquired my own home, I felt something missing. A trip to the San Diego County Animal Shelter solved that, when I found Hopper and brought Little Big Man home. (He is a Maine Coon/tabby, and quite the formidable looker at 23 pounds!) Natasha joined us a few years later when a friend and I heard about a cat with a litter of kittens living in an alley. After repeated visits to gain her trust, we managed to trap the whole family. Homes were found for the kittens right away, and I brought Natasha home to see how she would fare with Hops. They were immediately thick as thieves. It took her close to a year to feel completely comfortable with me, but I knew she was in the right place, as she just adored Hopper from the start. I am so grateful to have her, and Hopper…their personalities are so different and so unique. My profession could otherwise be quite lonely, painting at home, but with my little feline muses it’s anything but. My home and my heart are full.


Jen and Marna at Marna

Jen and Marna at Marna’s La Jolla Festival of Arts booth in 2015

I love the vibrant colors you use, can you talk about your use of color?

Thank you, Jen!

OK, well, color…it’s like, everything to me. Color, and line, and shape…and the kitties…and coffee…okay, I’m off-track now. Back to color. Color has such power to communicate on an emotional level. Vivid colors can bestow joy, warmth, happiness, energy, spirit. Color can “get to you” on a gut-level. Vibrant reds, deep blues, sunny yellows…these colors independently can speak to us in ways that we feel immediately and deeply. I’ve always been drawn to art with lots of color. I think I must have absorbed my liberal use of color by osmosis…being around colorful art and studying it and collecting it, even as a child. I’ve been told my use of color is intuitive. I don’t think I can take credit. I think I’ve just admired artists who use color for so long (like Mark Rothko, Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Wayne Theibaud) that it just kind of happened. Also, I was one of those kids with the huge magic marker and crayon collection.


San diego dog artist marna schindler painter cats nature indian wells arts festival

Poster for the 2016 Indian Wells Art Festival featuring Marna’s painting

I saw you were the featured artist for the Indian Wells Art Festival last weekend, congratulations! How did you get selected for that honor? What was involved in being the featured artist? I saw your artwork on the homepage of their website and in the festival ad in magazines!

Thank you! I’m super honored to have been chosen for this year’s Indian Wells Arts Festival poster artist. I was asked by the director to create something evocative of the area; I was one of three artists chosen to create a special painting.  I created two, because I was kind of bubbling over with ideas, and was told that the jury actually liked both! The one that was ultimately chosen is filled with desert critters, and called “Spirit of Indian Wells.” It was a neat piece to see as the featured art…it seemed that the patrons of the festival enjoyed finding the various animals, and it was a fun, colorful, and happy painting. Not serious…something kids enjoyed, too. I really like that. If kids are liking something I’ve done, then I know it’s something to be proud of.


Do you have any favorite scenery in or near San Diego that inspires your art?

Hmmm…I draw inspiration from all over, usually from hikes or bike rides. Favorite places here in San Diego would be Torrey Pines State Park, Cabrillo Monument, Point Loma, Coronado, Mission Bay, the various estuaries throughout San Diego (I’m also a burgeoning birder), and Lake Murray.


Any favorite art events or places to see art in San Diego?

San Diego Mission Federal ArtWalk, would be my number one. It’s the biggest and probably most fun festival for folks to enjoy. And, it’s free. Over 350 artists all in the same place, complemented by music, dance performances, food, activities for kids…it’s an all-day, all-encompassing experience.


If someone is looking to purchase art for their home, what is one piece of advice you would give them?

I would say, follow your heart. Going to an art festival is a great place to go for that special piece…look at everything you can, and see what speaks to you. You’ll know it when it does!


Tell us what we can expect from visiting your booth at the upcoming Mission Federal Artwalk in Little Italy on April 30 and May 1? Do you know your exact location yet? It is quite a large event!

artwalk san diego little italy cats long hair San diego dog artist marna schindler painter cats nature

Marna’s booth at a previous Mission Federal Art Walk in Little Italy

It’s a huge event indeed! Over 13 blocks of artists. I’m always in the same location, to make it easy on people who might be seeking me out, and to me. I’m a creature of habit, and I really love my location.  I’m at the corner of Columbia and Beech, just a few blocks up from the trolley stop on Beech. Booth #176 [map here]. I get a great breeze coming up from the bay at my booth. And, it’s right near a restroom! Everything you could want. Come on by and get your free dog sticker! (It’s a sticker with a cartoon dog I painted, not a sticker for dogs. 🙂 ) I’ll be showing some brand new larger landscapes, and I’ll also be offering a wide array of prints, as I usually do.


Thank you, Marna! I hope a lot of my readers are planning to visit the ArtWalk this weekend and stop by your booth at the corner of Beech and Columbia St. I know I’ll be visiting!

Visit Marna online at and You can contact her to commission a fine art painting of your pet, purchase art for sale, and more!

If you’d like to be featured in a guest post, contact Jen at





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