Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Meet Pigcasso: A 2-year-old pig with some serious painting skills

A St. John’s woman is finding creative inspiration from an unlikely place: a two year-old mini pig.

Izzy the pig excels at painting, the ring toss and playing piano

Meet Izabelle: The picture-painting pig

Here and Now

5 years ago
This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, and the other ... is painting 1:26

They call her Pigcasso, but her real name is Izabelle — or Izzy — the mini pig with some serious painting skills.

Caitlin Dillon's pet is one of the most talented pigs in St. John's.

She plays the piano and excels at the ring toss, but Izzy's most noteworthy talent is her penchant for painting.

Two-year-old Izzy has already finished over 20 paintings and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

At this rate, she'll have enough paintings to have her own gallery space.

But how does she do it?

According to Dillon, all Izzy needs is some strong encouragement and a Costco-sized box of cheerios to pick up her "brush."

"It took a while just to train her to put her snout against the canvas, and then I started introducing her to paint," she said.

Dillon applies the paint directly to Izzy's snout, and then instructs her to swipe her snout on a blank canvas.

After each successful swipe, Izzy is rewarded with a handful of Cheerios. By mixing and matching different paint colours, eventually what Dillon is left with is a work of abstract, colourful art.

'She gets a little excited'

Caitlin Dillon helps Izzy paint by placing non-toxic paint on Izzy's snout, directing her to the canvas, and then rewarding her with a snack. (Gary Locke/CBC)

It wasn't long until Izzy started to get excited at any mention of the word paint.

Each painting made by Izzy even has a special touch to it.

"Whenever I tell her she's going to paint, she gets a little excited because she knows she's going to get rewarded," said Dillon.

"Not only does she use her snout, she generally swipes her whole head, so in most of the paintings she usually leaves a strand of her fur in as well."

Painting for over a year

Izzy the mini pig with one of her creations: a painting done not with a brush, but with a snout. (Caitlin Dillon)

Dillon first got the idea to teach Izzy to paint over a year ago from another pig owner who runs an Etsy business called Snout Art.

"After watching her, and getting tips from her, that's how I got Izabelle into painting and she's been painting ever since," said Dillon.

Izzy's paintings have been so successful that Dillon is now planning to take it to the next level.

"Everyone loves them, everyone wants them," she said.

"There's been such an increase in people wanting them, that I started about a week ago, I created a group on Facebook called Izabelle's Art Work where I'm going to start actually selling them."​

If Izzy can keep this up, who knows what might happen.

Maybe one day we'll see Izzy's work showcased at a gallery in town.

Unusual, but worth it 

Caitlin Dillon says Izzy is an ideal animal to have kicking around her house.

It's not lost on Dillon how unusual it may seem to have a pig for a pet, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's awesome. She sleeps with me and my boyfriend, she actually has stairs to get up on our bed," she said.

"That's all she ever wants to do, is pretty much sleep, cuddle, and eat."

But even though those are Izzy's three favourite things, Dillon said Izzy is open to trying new games.

All it takes to get Izzy to open up is a barrel full of snacks, and these days Dillon even takes Izzy for walks some weekends with other pig owners in St. John's.

"We started getting together on Sundays and having walks in the park," she said.

"That gets a lot of peoples attention, seeing like five or six pigs walking across the road."

Izzy's got some other tricks up her sleeve, too. In addition to painting, she dabbles with the ring toss, and plays the piano, according to owner Caitlin Dillon. (Gary Locke/CBC)


Andrew Sampson is a journalist with CBC News in St. John's.