Through October, Torres will donate half of her proceeds to the Greyhound Pets of Orlando
WINTER GARDEN Amanda Torres never planned on becoming a painter.
As an animal lover, her goal was to become a veterinarian when she went off to college, but one course of chemistry made her re-evaluate her plan. Instead, she ended up in art, studying acrylics and watercolors.
Several years later, her art has now led her back to her love of animals.
“It’s blossomed into something more than I could have imagined,” said Torres, who lives in Winter Garden.
Ponies and wolfhounds
For nearly 10 years, Torres traveled across the state with her pony competing in various horse shows. Her goal was always to reach the national level and compete in Kentucky.
At 17 years old, she finally qualified for the national competition, but she never made it to Kentucky.
During a practice run on a course, a jump went terribly wrong and Torres was thrown, resulting in a broken back and the end of her riding career.
During her weeks and months spent recovering in an upper-body cast, her parents offered to buy her a dog. For Torres, there was only one option.
“I wanted to find a dog that looked as much like a horse as possible,” she said. “I wanted the most giant animal possible.”
As a result, Torres ended up adopting an Irish Wolfhound puppy - a breed known for its massive size. When she adopted the puppy, the breeder insisted that she enter it in dog shows.
Torres obliged and has since delved deep into the dog show industry. She now owns three Irish Wolfhounds and enters them in shows throughout the year.
“Everything for me kind of comes back to showing animals,” she said.
As an artist, the majority of Torres’ work features animals, and most of her paintings are either done in acrylic or watercolor.
“What I really enjoy doing is watercolors,” Torres said. “But watercolor is a million times harder to me than acrylic. If you make a mistake with acrylic, you can paint over it.”
Regardless of the medium, a large painting can take up to three hours for Torres to complete while a smaller one may only take 45 minutes.
“I paint really quickly,” Torres said.
She typically spends a few hours a day working on several projects, and her style varies on whether she’s working in acrylics or watercolors. Acrylics allow for more defined stroke work, giving animals more defined fur, while watercolors are a more free-flowing process.
“I like to combine what I see with an artistic flair,” she said. “(With watercolors), I’m forced to be more artsy with it because it dries so quickly.”
And her paintings have included everything from dogs and horses to elephants, skunks and elk.
“It’s not just dogs and cats,” Torres said. “It’s really anything anyone wants.”
Recently, Torres has partnered with animal-based nonprofits to help raise money for the organizations.
Through October, Torres has partnered with Greyhound Pets of Orlando, a nonprofit dedicated to finding homes for retired racing greyhounds regardless of injury or old age. Torres will donate half of the proceeds of every painting she sells will to the charity.
“I think it’s a cool idea, and I enjoy it,” Torres said of her work partnering with animal-based charities. “I hope that it takes off.”