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Meet Vanessa Alardo of Wild and Free Monarch in Loma Linda

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vanessa Alardo.

Vanessa, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a child, the process of creating something new was always exciting and brought me a lot of enjoyment! I would sit for hours outside my Michigan home, painting, drawing, sewing and even spray painting different abstract designs onto my clothing. I would get most of my inspiration from whatever book I was reading at the time.

Although I didn’t pursue art as my chosen career but instead became a registered dietitian, the need to create was an unshakable urge. So in 2015, I decided to get adventurous as a health educator and created an Art Therapy Class to help adults reduce stress and get back in touch with their inner artist. To my surprise, it was a huge success and it gave me the courage to start painting again. I began slowly and tentatively began to paint again, starting with a floral piece. Then I turned to painting an animal portrait, which then turned into many more pet portraits, which is now what I’m best known for!

I’m beyond grateful that my passion for art followed me into my adulthood, where I spend most evenings with a paintbrush in one hand a wine glass in the other painting people’s beloved pets. A lot of time and love goes into each of my pieces!

Has it been a smooth road?
As with anything good in life, it is never a smooth road. Being a self-taught artist, I had a lot of anxiety painting as an adult, worrying what others might think and stressing over every little detail of my painting. Although I would stress endlessly whether customers would like their custom pieces, I never gave up! I kept painting and perfecting my art, growing in confidence over time. I’m glad I persisted because believing in myself and my abilities has not only brought a lot of joy to my customers but has taught me so much about myself as a person and my purpose in this world.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Wild and Free Monarch – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I mostly specialize in pet portraits but have been asked to all sorts of custom pieces from florals to landscapes. I love painting on anything from canvas to wooden slices and my MOST FAVORITE are jean jackets! I love painting a fur babe peeking out of a pocket or a beautiful animal illustration as a statement piece on the back of the jacket.

I have also done mobile parties of small intimate gatherings, up to large corporate events of 50 or more, which can also be done virtually! I’ve even done plant and paint parties, which participants love to paint their pot and plant their favorite succulent.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I like most is the diversity that LA has to offer from its art to music, and best of all FOOD! I met my husband here in LA and he introduced me to the drum and bass scene, which I am now a die-hard fan of! I think my least favorite thing about LA is what most people would complain about and that is traffic, but I even try to make the most of that by listening to my favorite drum and bass music or inspirational podcast to pass the time.


  • Pet portrait art varies in price, depending on size and can range from $50-$450. See Etsy page or contact me through my instagram page @vanessaalardo for details.
  • Custom piece on jean jacket, depends size of piece and location and can range from $170-$225
  • Mobile and virtual paint parties are $25 per person with a minimum of 10 people. Canvas size 9×12 with 1.5 hour tutorial

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