I transferred the finished drawing from my finished draft onto a piece of watercolour paper making sure I have taken into account the extra space around the outside needed to stick it to the board and to allow some play in the size of the finished piece. It had been stretched first, taped to a board and dried overnight.
Materials used here are hot pressed 140lb watercolour paper and acrylic paint. My lightbox is an old cutdown amazon box with an unwanted picture frame glass front for the top and a spare loose strip light taped inside!
My portfolio of dog portraits is slowly but surely expanding.
I have taken on a couple of portfolio exercises to get a proper feel for the difficulty rating. They are:
a) a photo which does not have all the pictorial information because the resolution is too low and
b) a photo which is in itself not a great composition but it is the only photo we can get. These are situations a pet portrait artist may find themselves in and with these problems in mind they will then have to decide whether a successful pet portrait will be the outcome.
a) This is Amber. Most of the photo could be enhanced using the contrast tool to get more information for reference. This worked for all but the eyes. This was the most challenging and time consuming of my two examples. I had to make up the eye reference material, or cross reference it elsewhere. This meant it became time consuming and a fiddle mucking about with the “lost” information. The eyes are the most important focal point (apart from the muzzle also in a dog) and not succeeding in making them look “right” or more to the point “convincing” would spell disaster for the whole painting. One other point about this photo is the position of the tail gives a very long slim shape to the overall composition and so it was much better to take the important head area instead where there are alot of dynamic shapes to keep the picture interesting.
b) This is Gooner, obviously an older dog, which you can tell by the expression and posture. The overall shape is not very dynamic and more of an overall circular outline, not the best shape to use for a picture composition. This painting is taking much less time on account I hav all the necessary information in front of me. I took the liberty of using artistic licence to move the eye gaze so that the image was more engaging. Everything is in place and the painting is almost finished.
Below are the results of my endeavours:
Amber is completed
Gooner to the right is still work in progress.
There are times when another factor comes into play and that is when the pet owner has produced the only photo they have of their dog and it is just like the Amber example above. Perhaps this might persuade you as a pet portrait artist to take on the commission. Of course all these things can be discussed at the outset with the pet owner giving you the commission perhaps with deposit for work up front and other caveats would help mitigate any disaster!
My conclusion is that not having all the information is extremely time consuming and the outcome is not certain. It is up to the Pet Portrait Artist to determine the risk!
Don’t for one minute let the title of this post lead you to believe that I might give any advice currently on that subject matter!
A new pet portrait emerges from my studio but a distinct lack of ability to prioritise is ensuing along other commitments getting in the way, and a little procrastination to boot. No advice can come of such disorder. If anyone has any tips please let me know and help rescue the situation!
Meanwhile here is the most recent completed dog portrait painting.
If an image captures your imagination you may find your own internal dialogue emerging as to what is taking place in the picture. I make ACEOs with my own narrative in mind and often show them to my family and find that they in turn arrive at their own (sometimes surprising ) conclusion as to what they think is going on with the characters in my ACEOs.
I love to start the story and hope there may be a variety of possibilities for a story to be told.
Decide yourself what is happening here between Digger and Freddie, and then see below for what I had in mind. My description for this aceo goes something like this : “Digger could not be sure but he thought that Freddie was trying to tell him something…..”
My narrative could have been…. “Looking at Freddie Digger was not sure if Freddie actually liked him.” but I decided that it would be “Freddie kept glancing at the Fish Food and looking at Digger hoping Digger might take the hint and gives him a little snack!”
So Digger fancies himself as being a bit like his ancestors, although I am not sure what a Fox Terrier might sound like whilst trying to howl like a wolf….
Whilst designing and painting this image I wondered why there is a plethora of images featuring wolves and a full moon……but it seems is just a human association. “Wolf howls serve as GPS systems, sing-alongs and fire alarms — all rolled into one. In fact, the purpose of wolf howls isn’t terribly different from the reasons humans raise their voices to the wind.” [see more about wolves and howling…]
I was asked by a friend to paint her endearing little terrier cross called Gus. Not every photo will make a good painting. The dog can always look cute, but the overall shape of the pose can be uninspiring, and less interesting to behold as a final painting. The outline should be what I would describe as dynamic, that is is must have a variety angles as you would in any interesting composition no matter what the subject.
Finding The Photograph for the Dog Portrait
Getting photos off your client can sometimes be difficult. They cannot locate them, the ones on their phone are not good enough quality, or the photos they have found do not have that certain “something”. At this juncture, if you know your client it might be good time to offer to take your camera to them, get out on the common or the park and mooch about taking pics as you go. You could go for a photo shoot which is a more pressurised environment and may be your only solution, but make sure you snap away and take loads of shots at the dog’s eye level. It can be difficult for owner to take the best pics of their pooch because their pooch only has eyes for them, the moment they bend to take a good shot Mutley is bounding toward the lens itself!
The photo here is sooo cute, but look at the outline it is basically an oval. By accentuating detail in the head I could have got away with this but it would really be more of a head shot.
This was not what the client had in mind, she wanted Gus on the go which would have been an impossible round indistinguishable shape with all four paws off the ground!
The photo here is not detailed at all and again is a sort of oval shape.
So we settled for an “out in the field” shot, Gus looking very pleased with himself. I placed Gus centre stage, and enjoyed the detail of showing his happy character.
So if your client is slow to get a photo to you, arrange to get a good number of photos yourself if you can and then offer up the best of what you have which is inspirational for you too.