Paula’s dogs hang on café walls

Wacky portraits of dogs are bemusing coffee drinkers at a Scarborough café.

They are in the distinctive, instantly recognisable style of local artist Paula Zimmerman.

Large landscape paintings by Paula’s partner Steve Whitehead have adorned the ground-floor walls of Walker’s in Bar Street for several months.

Owner Andy Walker also took a shine to Paula’s pet portraits and commissioned her to paint one of his dogs - as in a portrait not a canine redesign. Then another dog; and another.

Then, by coincidence, the café’s first-floor gallery space became available at roughly the same time as a month-long exhibition of Paula’s work finished in Maidenhead. So the paintings went straight to Walker’s.

They are all of dogs. “I do cats as well - I’ve just done a Cat with a Pearl Earring - but I generally prefer dogs, especially short-haired ones”.

Paula works from all sorts of images and has been known to stop people in the street and ask if she can take a photo of their dogs. “I lie on the floor to get the right perspective”, she says.

She likes quirky representations such as a bulldog crossed with Holbein’s famous portrait of Henry VIII, dogs as mods and rockers and a corgi who appears to be imitating the Queen.

“I get some challenging commissions. One customer wanted two dogs driving a Bentley and another wanted her dogs to look as if they were in the Steve Martin film”, she says.

An example of the interesting backgrounds is the early 20th century nursery wallpaper behind the large (4ft square) and arresting portrait of a French bulldog named Pierre, which faces customers as they reach the top of the café stairs.