Spaniel Portrait


There are artists who don’t think about the different methods of oil painting. However, the well-trained and caring artist will use different methods and techniques to create a beautiful piece of art. Using feathering techniques that make the border between two colors vague or scumbling that allows the under layer of paint to show through, a real-life pet portrait can be created. Send me a photograph of your pet, and I will produce a portrait you will cherish.

Recently I was given a photograph of a beloved dog who had passed away. The photograph was of Sheba, a gorgeous spaniel whose soft brown ears were mimicked by the brown around her eyes. I studied her photograph for hours trying to image the basic shapes and proportions of her breed. I actually called a friend who has a spaniel quite similar to Sheba. I studied my friend’s spaniel, felt her fur, and touched her nose. You can paint a dog portrait if you have a knowledge of known dog breeds, but at the same I use my imagination to capture the individuality of the dog I am painting.

Sheba’s fur varies in color, direction and length and this is part of her personality. One technique I use to get the perfect direction in a dog portrait is to enlarge the photo using a simple overhead projector. Next I lay out my paints and brushes, and “talk” to the dog I am painting. To produce the best dog portrait, it takes a feeling of intimacy with the subject.

When painting pet portraits from photos it is very important to capture the eyes. Look at the light in the dog’s eyes. Draw where the dog is looking, size the dark part of the eye and paint the colored part in proportion. Getting a dog’s eyes right brings out the focal point of the dog portrait.

Sheba’s ears are soft and silky. The fur goes from white at the top of the head and gradually lays into soft browns, reds, and gold. Her ears lay flat against her head giving her a very coquettish look. Her ears are her personality. Sheba was quite the lady.

Sheba has sorts of brown on her muzzle and around her nose. I had a bit of a challenge painting her spots just right. Notice her mouth; Sheba gently smiles from the painting.

Mr. and Mrs. Brown dearly loved Sheba and were very pleased with the work I did. In Mrs. Brown’s words, “Sheba looks as if she could jump off the canvas and right into my lap.”

Recently the Browns sent me a picture of where they hung Sheba’s portrait. Right above their fireplace in the sitting room. I am honored to paint pet portraits and keep pet’s alive for their owners.