I want to share a recent experience I had as part of my pet portrait journey.
My husband was showing some photos of my paintings to his work colleagues and a few days later I received a text from Toby asking if I could paint his two toy poodle pups. The photos he had were a bit sketchy, so I offered to come out and photograph them – and to get some puppy kisses of course.
The photo shoot
Now I don’t claim to have any great photography skills, but I do have a decent camera for the job, Olympus OMD mk2, and I’m very patient. Just as well too, because those two little black pups just would not keep still. It was an overcast day also and I was struggling with the light. I wanted to capture them in a pose that illustrated their joy of life, bond to each other, and their cuteness.
There was no real concept of what Toby and Frankie wanted the dogs to be doing in their portrait, so we just started taking photos.
They are a couple of great guys who are really loving their puppy journey. They worked with me the whole time to try and entice the dogs to sit still enough to be photographed and we just kept going until I thought we had enough images to use. After about an hour, and about a hundred photos, I had a couple of ideas to show Toby and Frankie.
Creating the artwork
I started with a pencil sketch to get a feel for the pups energy. This was then sent to Toby and Frankie for approval.
I gridded up and drew the composition onto the 14×18″ canvas. Then blocked in the tonal lights and darks using acrylic paint.
After a quick check in with Toby and Frankie, I was ready to get some colour on the canvas. The beautiful thing about black is that it has many other colours within it that creates its glossiness and shine. I don’t use the colour black in my paintings, as it tends to flatten out the work. Instead I combine browns and blues. If you look at the reference pic (above)and squint your eyes a bit, you will notice these blues and browns in the puppies coats.
I added some colour, initially with acrylic, then with oils -layer apon layer. Just keep adding. It’s a bit like building a sculpture. You have to imagine the 3-dimensional object and try and create that form with colour and light.
I always imagined this painting to have a light background. Toby and Frankie’s house has clean white walls and I wanted the painting to have that same fresh feeling. I played with shadows and floorboards to create some depth, but was conscious to keep the overall look clean. I really like how the layers of different colours work together in the shadow.
When all was finished and Toby and Frankie gave it their blessing, the painting was proudly hung in our lounge to dry until it was ready to go to it’s new family.
The Dads were so excited to see their portrait that we hand delivered it and were treated to a beautiful hand baked lunch. It was great to see the puppies again. They had grown considerably. Max is now substantially larger than Molly and their individual personalities are a lot more evident. They were very happy to have visitors come and give them cuddles and were also delighted with their portrait.
Thanks to Toby and Frankie for a very rewarding experience. You guys are great to work with and I’m delighted that you love your painting of the beautiful Max and Molly.
You can follow their journey on instagram @maxandmollythetoypoodles
For pet portrait enquiries, I’m always happy to discuss ideas. Send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org