lucia heffernan’s animal whimsy

“Puppy Chow” by Lucia Heffernan

This cute little pup seems a little unsure about that drumstick on his plate.  Do you think he’s trying to figure out how to use that knife and fork? What impeccable table manners!

I was happy to chance upon Lucia Heffernan’s whimsical animal paintings recently. It’s simply impossible not to smile when you see them. She takes anthropomorphized animals to a new level: they’re realistic rather than caricatures, created with panache, elegance, and humor. 

A pig in a top hat? Bunnies driving race cars and shopping for carrots? What about a police bear enjoying coffee and donuts, or a handsome dog shaving? Whatever you do, don’t tell on that kitty who literally spilled the beans. 😀

Her subjects come from every walk of life and engage in a wide variety of human activities, allowing us to see ourselves in a metaphorical way.

Lucia was born in Taiwan, but now lives and works in Salt Lake City. After earning a degree in Fine art and Design from Binghamton University in New York, she and her husband started their own design company. After about a decade, they sold the agency and retired to Utah, where Lucia shifted from digital design to oil painting. She liked the tactile nature of oils and exploring her lifelong fascination with animals. 

She first produced beautiful realistic depictions, but after awhile felt something was missing. She wanted more “story” to her pictures. So she gave her animals human qualities and experiences. Now her paintings are not only beautiful but refreshingly relatable. “I want my animals to look like they are jumping out of the painting.”

She is inspired by daily life, often taking note of facial expressions and reactions of people she sees in various locations, ranging from movie theatres to cafés. When something amuses her, she imagines inserting animals in those roles and poses.

She sometimes uses her own pets as models – either her dog or white mice, Salt and Sugar. Whether mice, dogs, cats, birds, pigs, hens, or chickens, her subjects brim with personality, often reminding the viewer of people he or she knows or has seen.

“I seek to give animals voice and a personality, while making light of our uniquely human existence.”

Lucia’s favorite artists include Norman Rockwell, Gary Larson, Richard Smith, Stephen Hansen and Michael Sowa.

One of her most popular series is “Yoga Chicks,” which features adorable fluffy chicks assuming about 20 different poses. Isn’t it amazing how it looks like they are really bending every which way? 🙂

In addition to her foodie pieces, I especially like the portraits of animals reading. Lots of humor with those book titles! How can you not laugh at a squirrel reading “How to Find Big Nuts,” or a pigeon with a copy of “Pooping on People”? 😀

It also goes without saying that the Alphabet Soup furry kitchen helpers were ecstatic to see several bears included in Lucia’s menagerie. Big brown bears and polar bears. And that panda eating a pink donut is a special favorite. 

Enjoy this video of Lucia introducing her work.


For more, visit Lucia Heffernan’s Official Website, where you can purchase originals or signed prints (available in 3 sizes). Her work is also available via other online sites such as Printano, Etsy and iCanvas. For all the latest, check out her Instagram and Facebook Page.


*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

13 thoughts on “lucia heffernan’s animal whimsy

  1. Thank you Lucia & Jama for sharing this wonderful art with us. I really needed to smile today. And Jama – I don’t tell you often enough how much I appreciate and love all your posts. Thank you:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am late again. I love all of these animals, but especially all the bunnies, and the lady squirrel all gussied up hat and all! Thank you, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Animals? Well, not really. She’s created an incredible menagerie of images. As you say, there’s a combination of realism and whimsy.

    best….mae at


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