Sam and I became friends many years ago attending an open-studio gathering hosted by a mutual friend. She loved cats and talked about them all the time, but I was shocked to hear she didn’t have one! She and her husband were catsitters for one and they were very much in love.
After four years, Angus’s human saddly passed, but Sam and her husband were able to adopt him. He went from one very loving home to another. Soon after the adoption was official, she contacted me for a portrait of her favorite kitty.
Hand-Finished Antique Frame
I offered one of my antique frames that my sister found several years ago at a The Castner Picture Frame Company, made in the early 1900’s. You can see my finishing process on a previous post. It’s incredible to watch the transformation they undergo and I love the warm tones in the frame with his fur colors.
INCREDIBLE! Truly amazing. I can’t thank you enough. I absolutely love it and can’t wait to see it in person.
I’m in love with the subject for my latest pet portrait commission. Harrison is a flame point rag doll Siamese and those eyes!! Harrison is 10″ x 8″ and is made with oil on aluminum.
During my tiny thanksgiving gathering we talked about things we were grateful for. My clients that commission me to paint their beautiful furry friends came just after friends and family. Thank you. ❤️
I worked as a picture framer during my college years and have continued to frame my own work since then. I frame most of my clients commissioned works and for Harrisons portrait we choose this georgeous bronze colored carved frame. My client has synesthesia and she loved this frame in particular because the swirls looked like how Harrison’s meows sound. Sounds like a pretty incredible experience with the world.
Ahhhh!!! It’s BEAUTIFUL! I feel like you totally and perfectly captured his essence. It’s wonderful! I love how the background brings out his eyes and various fur colors and textures. His little nose is so cute!! And he looks so fluffy!
Thank you so much!!!
Traditional Techniques: Layer by Layer
I made a short video that shows how my paintings evolve, using the time tested technique of “lean to fat”. The first layer starts with big shapes and paint thinned with odorless mineral spirits (Gamsol). This is the lean layer. For the oil, I use Galkyd slow dry painting medium. As the detail increases with each layer, so does the oil content added to my paint mixture. By working in this way, the paint has ideal conditions to adhere to its substrate. It also ensures that the bottom layers of paint will dry more quickly than the top layers which prevents cracking in the future. I also find that this technique gives painting a luminocity and depth that is essential for capturing fluffy fur and pearlecent eyes.
If you’re interested in a pet portrait of your own, please visit my commission page to lean more.
My latest commission is a portrait of a Rocky Mountain horse named Chief. He has a beautiful dual colored mane and he is such a sweet horse. I’m in Seattle, but have family in Ohio and travel back to visit (don’t know when the next visit will be at this point though!). I got to meet my client who lives in Ohio in person last year and spend a lovely morning with her and a mutual friend taking reference photographs. Horses are tough to photograph and horse people KNOW their horses so you have to get it right! It’s quite the experience to soak in this amazing bond. I hope these two have many many years to enjoy each others remarkably warm company.
Date of Delivery
This painting was due to be completed for Bobbie’s birthday. I was dismayed that it was my very first and hopefully last commission that wasn’t finished on time. I have a clause in my contract in the “Date of Delivery” section that states, “This completion date shall be extended in the event of delays caused by events beyond the control of the Artist.”
My husband and I suffered nasty bout of illness in early March, followed by the challenging transition to working-and-schooling from home.
Being sick while caring for a 4-year-old was really difficult. My husband and I were both sick for the entire month of March, and we took turns resting while we did our best to keep Isaac fed and out of trouble. I wasn’t able to venture into the studio for the entire month and it threw a big wrench in the works for my paintings schedule.
Once we finally recovered, I got back to painting and I have never been so thankful for my health, the sunshine and wonderful clients! Bobbie was so kind and forgiving and I’m very grateful. Wishing you all a very healthy spring. ?
My work as a mountmaker at the Seattle Art Museum has brought me into contact with some pretty extraordinary people. Curator of Chinese artwork, Ping Foong, is one such person. I’m very grateful that she and her partner choose me to make a special portrait of their cat Lila that reflects her love of Chinese porcelains.
A pet portrait is a gift that will last a lifetime (and beyond!)
Pet portraits take some time to make. But they are worth the wait. The most important part of the process is the planning stage. I like to get the composition figured out right away and take the time to get it right. Carrie and I worked through several ideas until we found the perfect composition.
I put a lot of care into my portraits for two reasons. The biggest reason is that a true representation of the subject honors the connection my clients have to their pets.
I’m also doing it for myself. It’s important to me that my paintings last and using the proper materials and techniques is only part of the equation. Making a work of art that will be interesting to future generations means future generations will take care it long after we are all gone. Likewise, every time I exhibit my work, win an award, or have a painting published I’m adding to the provenance of all of my paintings. Which means they will have a historical context that will add to the future value of my work. Adding value to my work means it will be taken care of.
The Best Part of a Pet Portrait
All of that longevity is important, but the best part of a pet portrait is preserving a well loved smiling face. It’s incredibly meaningful for me to make the special connection humans have to our pets tangible. My glimpse into the bond shared between Carrie, Derek and Sophie was truly a gift and it was an honor to make Sophie’s portrait.
We received the painting and it’s absolutely beautiful! It’s perfect. Thank you so much! Derek can’t get over how closely you managed to capture Sophie, you’re just SO talented. I hope to work with you in the future!
I was commissioned to make two paintings for Jason. The first, a gift for his sister of her beloved dog Hazel. Hazel was a golden retriever that had given a lifetime of love. The other was of Turbo, a lot of personality packed into a miniature 4″ composition.
I composed both of these painting with classical dutch portraits in mind. There were so many great photos for me to choose from of these two. I was especially inspired by the warmth in Hazel’s eyes and the intelligence in Turbo’s.
I was sad to hear that both Turbo and Hazel passed between the time when we designed the portraits and when they were completed. It really reinforces my mission of creating pet portraits though. And I love that their portraits will live on for hundreds of years to come.
I got them today! We are in love! Thank you so much, such talented work!!
To learn about how to commission your own pet portrait, please visit the Commission’s page.
My King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Mona, has posed for us to help demonstrate how to get the best photos for your pet portrait.
Take photos outside.
Cloudy days are ideal and you can shoot at anytime during the day. If it’s sunny out, it’s best to plan to photograph around an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. Give yourself around 30 minutes for a photo session. The first image of Mona below is from a huge image file, but it’s a blurry image without a lot of detail because it was taken inside.
Photo taken inside
Photo taken outside
Get on your pets level.
Though my ten year old Mona does look awfully cute and puppy like in the first image below, images taken from above distort the body and feel kind of generic. I find images shot from closer to a dogs eye level feel more intimate and show a clearer picture of who your unique furry friend is.
photographed from above
Image taken from Mona’s eye level
Get up close.
The first shot below looks great at first glance, but it’s shot from too far away. When zooming in on the face, you can see that the fine details are lost. Capturing the little details if part of what makes your portrait special and if the detail isn’t in the photo, I can’t paint it.
Photo taken from far away
Far away image zoomed in
Photo taken up close
Up close image zoomed in
Light up their eyes.
A little light reflected in the eyes gives your pet a lively alert expression. Mona looks like she’s kind of sad or very sleepy without that light. Even on a cloudy day you should be able to get a reflection. If you’re having trouble, try to position the sun behind you.
No reflection in the eyes
Reflection in Mona’s eyes
Take lots of photos.
When trying to get the perfect shot, I took over sixty images. Be patient and try lots of different angles. Block out 30 minutes to take photos and even if you feel like you got the perfect image 5 minutes in, keep shooting for the entire time.
Get a helper.
Not all dogs are as docile as Mona and having someone there with toys and treats helping pose your dog is a tremendous help.
Don’t forget to brush your dog’s hair! Mona had some tangles I missed before we took our photos. 😉
I look forward to seeing your images!! If you’re having trouble or if you’re unable to get new photos, contact me. Good luck!
Visit my Pet Portraits gallery to see some of my past pet portraits and see my tips for taking photos of your cat for a portrait. And now I’m going to have to make a portrait of Mona! Check back in a few months to see which image I end up choosing.
Every year Seattle’s last surviving newspaper, The Stranger, does a feature issue all about pets. Art critic Jasmyne Keimig interviewed four different artists who immortalize animal friends and I was delighted to be among them. Read the full interview on the Strangers website.
Thank you to the folks at The Stranger that continue to produce such a well loved local paper and for the yearly focus on animals. And a big thank you to Jasmyne for putting so much into writing a lovely article. I’m honored to be included!
They used an image of my portrait of Shiloh, oil on aluminum, 18″ x 12.5″ for the article. Go to my Pet Portraits gallery to see more examples of my work and go to the commissions page to learn about having your very own painting made.
The idea for the painting “Self Portrait – Expecting” came back when I was six months pregnant with my son and most of my reference images were gathered at that time. Rabbits were a big part of my childhood and I had two rabbits that lived in my painting studio. My rabbit Eleanor, was a natural addition to the painting. Not only did she sit at my feet while I painted, her species has been seen as a symbol of fertility for more than seven-hundred years.
I didn’t start painting “Self Portrait – Expecting” until my son was two and a half and after a series of miscarriages, I had recently learned that I was pregnant again. Eleanor had passed away since the photos were taken and right in the middle of working the painting, I lost yet another pregnancy, the fourth since my son was born. The act of making this painting was such a bitter sweet experience. The painting is about fertility, yet while making it, I was experiencing so much loss. I think that some of my resolve, the strength that I had to keep up for the sake of my two-year old made its way into my expression which changed throughout the painting process. In the end, the painting has become a reminder for me to be grateful and never give up hope.
This painting is on view at Arcadia Contemporary in the group show “ARC Visions 2019“ through March 2nd 2019.
I have three new rabbit paintings up at Arcadia Contemporary for the Art Renewal Center “ARC Visions 2019“, a group exhibition featuring the winners of the “Arcadia Contemporary Award” from the 13th Annual International ARC Salon. It’s an impressive group of artwork by eleven different artists and I had the privilege of meeting two of the artists at the opening, and another in Barcelona a couple of weeks before. Lovely people and extremely talented and dedicated artists. Go to Artsy to see all of the artwork in the exhibition. The exhibition is up through March 2nd.
The ARC Salon is an internationally revered competition that attracts submissions from some of the finest realist painters in the world.
The Art Renewal Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational foundation championing the revival of realism in the visual arts and is devoted to furthering the realist art movement and helping talented artists with strong technical skills thrive. Arcadia Contemporary is recognized as one of the premiere showcases for those artists.