The reference for my pet portraits are usually images provided by my clients. And the better the reference image, the better the painting will turn out. This terrier pet portrait is a wonderful example of that.
Tilly provided me with around 20 very high quality images and her vision of seeing Arthur in a red chair or on a red cushion. What made their images exceptional was great lighting and the angle she used.
Most of their images were taken outside, or with a very strong outdoor light source from a window as we see in the final painting. Good lighting is incredibly helpful in capturing accurate color, detail and texture in my subject. This is much easier to accomplish with dogs and horses than it is for cats and rabbits. But it’s a great example of how much a window can bring in the much needed light.
Tilly also captured Arthur from his eye level in most of the images. This makes for less distortion and creates a more intimate portrait.
See my page with tips on photographing your dog or your cat.
You can see in the above images, how the original images are altered to design the composition. I work with background shapes and colors to compliment the subject. It’s also important to move the viewers eye around to each area of the painting, while keeping the focal point on the personality of the subject. You’ll notice that I moved the line of the chair from above, to below his nose, adding to the feeling of Arthur’s alertness.
There are slight changes from the mock-up to the final painting, but these are minimal. As I work, the colors and form of the subject come together and I allow intuition to guide my brush. My main goals are to create a beautiful work of art and to capture my subject. Though it’s very close to the photo, I always try to make it better than the reference if possible.
While painting, I also look at the other images occasionally to help double check for accuracy. I softened the contrast in his fur and made the background less saturated, which seemed to separate Arthur from his background and give him more dimension. It also made his eyes appear brighter not to match the background so closely. The final touch was to make sure to capture the little tuft of hair that stuck straight up in almost all of the other images (my client mentioned this tuft so I knew it was important to have it in the portrait).
“This is perfect! Thank you so much for working so hard on it, I’m absolutely in love- I can’t wait to see it! (in person)”
For inforamtion on pricing, gift vouchers and timeline for your own pet portrait, please take a look at my commissions page.