“A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound” Charles Baudelaire
I thought it might be good to show you how I paint a Pet Portrait in stages. So I am going to introduce you to Seamus and show you how I painted him.
I start off with the photograph(s) from the client and I will e-mail them to make sure that I have understood the brief properly – I will also let them know if the quality of the photos is not good enough to work from. I’ll also check what background they would like me to create.
In this case, I checked that they wanted me to use the picture of Seamus with his eyes closed – which they did – and also that they wanted the leaves in the background – “typical Seamus” was the reply which was great as I always want to portray the pet ‘as they are’
Once I am happy with the images, I will then get to work sketching out the design and making sure that I get the likeness and sizing just right:
Here’s Seamus all drawn out in pencil and the background dark colour blocked in. I always paint using high quality acrylic paints on a gesso-primed and prepared board – this one was 44cm x 44cm – you can find out more about how I prepare each board on this post C is for Canvas
Then it was on to the leaves – I wanted them to surround Seamus without overpowering him – the main feature is always the pet! He seemed to nestle into the leaves quite nicely:
Next came the fun bit – and the smaller brushes came out of the jar – his face was so peaceful and content in the photograph, with lovely soft fur – I think I captured him quite well:
I try to always work from top to bottom on a picture, with the background going in first so that I can create the depth and layers that I like to show. Next was his body, and having sorted out the colour mixing for his face and fur, it was easy to carry this through into his body:
I loved painting his tail!
Then it was just a case of adding in the foreground leaves, which I lightened to make sure they stood out and gave the picture more depth and perspective:
Often I stand back at this point and even leave a picture overnight to see how it feels in the morning – but I was happy with this one straight away and didn’t make any changes at all. A quick signature bottom left and we were done!
Here’s a close-up of Seamus’ face for you, which gives you the best colour reference too:
He’s a very handsome chap!
Then it’s the scary moment when I send the images over to the client for approval – and I wait on tenterhooks for their reply! I am always so keen to get it right and make sure the client is happy – and my website is very clear that our t&c’s state that you don’t have to pay anything up front, or pay at all until you are happy! That’s just the way we run things!
Luckily they liked it (!) in fact their reply was lovely:
” The portrait is perfect, thank you! You have really captured our lovely Seamus!”
The painting gets added to our website A3 Art and payment is safe and secure via our PayPal system:
Once the painting is all authorised and paid for, I carefully paint the edges of the board a crisp white, then it’s over the Dave to add the fixings on the back so that the painting is ready to hang. All of my paintings are designed to float on the wall with a concealed frame and hanging – you can unpack it from the box when it arrives, plonk a picture hook in the wall and hang it straight up!
Here’s the finished painting for you:
‘Seamus’ original acrylic painting by Alyson Sheldrake
Then we create the individual Certificate of Authenticity that comes with all of our original paintings – and then it’s time to pack it up – we use lots of bubble wrap and cardboard – and take it off to the post office. We send our items recorded delivery and they have a tracking code on them too so that we can see where they are. We try to warn people that they can take 7 – 10 working days to arrive – the parcels tend to sit at Heathrow – Langley for distribution for several days – and then we always like to hear from the client once the portrait has arrived safely.
Then it’s time to sit down with a cup of tea, and load up the pictures for people to enjoy:
If you would like more information about how you can commission a Pet Portrait – for yourself or as a gift for a friend – just click the logo below: