Man's Best Friend: Pet Portraits for YOU
Updated: Jul 20, 2018
Animals have always been close to my heart and are certainly still my favorite subject matter. I would spend hours as a child pulling animal-themed wall calendars apart to paint the horses, bears, frogs, and whatever I could find.
One evening recently, while hustling away on a great american buffalo in oils, my roommate/business adviser/husband said - "Miss, you love to do animals, and people love their pets - why not put two and two together?" And that was genius in its simplicity (though at the time, I'm sure I said something like "sure, sure what do you think of the eye on this beast?"). But of course as soon as I let it soak it, I was sold. Focusing on pet portraits is so special in its ability to capture a member of the family through custom art.
Kitties & Doggos
My aim with these portraits is to be fun and flirty while staying true to the personality of the pet and the aesthetic of the owner and patron. I decided on an base 8 x 8 square with largely neutral backgrounds to make those pups and kits pop. But of course, I would love to scale up! I hope that soon I move beyond cats and dogs and get some fun pet birds, horses, or even piglets in the mix.
I started with my own beloved dog, Cody, in blue and purple. He's the one top right, above. I can't help but see purples and pinks and all shades of wine (rosé???) when I look at him - in real life and in my imagination.
He is part black Chow Chow, which means he has a beautiful red tint to his coat when the sun hits him just right. He also has a black spotted tongue - could he be cuter? I tackled him the way I tackle every painting - looking for color, lights, darks, and shapes. I laid down the first layer of pinks and purples before getting darker, as always thinking in highlights and lowlights. Because he's such a fluff-ball, he doesn't have a great deal of shape or edge to him - so I had to look hard for subtle color tones and changes.
Shout out to Heather Nunan, my paint-ner in crime.
I then went in for the details. The video below captures a bit of that. His eyes were the hardest part. To capture the energy and compassion of my best friend for 15 years was no small task. And truth be told, I don't think I nailed it. But when I look at the finished painting, I see my pup, and I see him see me, and that's what matters. I am now realizing that in the final version, I forgot to give him teeth. I'll have to go do that... Don't worry, I won't do that on your pretty piece 0:)
Next in the Pack
Because I was on a roll, and to refine my vision and aesthetic for these pet portraits, I went ahead and did an over-do commission of an ADORABLE pupper, Bing, for a friend. Bing - wow. I will save my words and show you a picture:
See? SO paintable. SO here I go. To my eye, Bing was all pinks and oranges. I started with some bright, bold colors. From the beginning I knew I wanted the tongue to be a centerpiece of this portrait - so much pink! Bing also has that special blue eye that is key to capturing his character.
I finished with the details. In these videos it is especially alarming to me how very bizarre all subjects look before they have their eyeballs. Eye holes are so unnatural. Speaking of anatomy, though you can't see it in this video below, I remembered to give Bing teeth.
If you're thinking "wow my pet would look excellent in a regal portrait by a fun-loving artist," then you're in luck! These commissions are available and for sale on my Etsy now. Let me know what you think!