My studio recently has been full of portraits of dogs! This might be due to my recent stint at the International Algarve Fair, where for the first time ever I actually painted live (gulp!)
It was our first time at the show, and setting up day came only one day after we had finished our last Exhibition at the Carvoeiro Sol hotel – I’m not sure I knew which way was up that day! We arrived and found a nice – but very empty – space to fill and quickly set to work. Once I had got my bearings and worked out where my easel was going to be placed, the rest seemed to fall into place quite easily.
I had asked for photos of pets (dogs this time!) that I could work from, and then selected two lucky people who were going to have their dog painted at the show – it’s always worth keeping an eye on my blog and FB page as I often offer crazy things like this to my loyal followers!
The reason for the theme was simple, we were setting up beside the arena which was hosting the Algarve Dog Show, an annual event at the fair, and all in aid of charity – this year it was the very deserving Friends of Canil de Portimão Charity.
I quickly set to work, and soon forgot that people were watching me – which was fine until at one point I turned around and found someone literally peering over my shoulder – it gave me such a shock that I jumped a mile!
The first dog up on the easel was the adorable Sasha, who had unfortunately passed away last year, but I loved the story behind the picture – she loved toast and would smell it cooking every morning and would come and rest her head on the kitchen table waiting for the crumbs! I always like to know the ‘story’ behind a picture or expression, it seems to help me to paint a lifelike and realistic portrait.
Here’s the finished piece – I love the expression in her eyes:
‘Sacha’ Pet Portrait © Alyson Sheldrake
The second day it was the turn of Daisy, a rescued dog who belongs to the wonderful Julie Dawn Fox, who writes my favourite blog about Portugal. It was a real pleasure to paint her dog who has such a delicate and intelligent face – and surrounded by a field of flowers, which seemed so appropriate.
Here’s the finished Daisy for you to enjoy:
‘Daisy’ Pet Portrait © Alyson Sheldrake
And here’s a close-up of that beautiful face:
‘Daisy’ close-up © Alyson Sheldrake
I was very happy to support the Algarve Dog Show, especially after meeting the live-wire that is Julie Pickering that organises it all – it’s such a big event to set up – this year they had over 170 dogs and raised 1,665 Euros for the charity. I had offered a Free Pet Portrait Prize to the Best in Show on the Sunday – and was delighted to meet Jan and the gorgeous Digby after the show to arrange for her prize to be completed:
I have to say a huge thank you at this point to Dan and Natasha from Birch Photography – not only did they run round all weekend photographing the Dog Show, they also took a fantastic photograph of Digby which they very kindly allowed me to use to paint my Pet Portrait from! I am always keen to be given the very best photographs that I can to work from, the more detail and information a photograph can give me, the easier my job is – and Birch Photography’s photograph was amazing:
They are also a great young couple working out here on the Algarve, covering events, corporate and commercial work, real estate, weddings and portraits – you can find out more about them via their website Birch Photography or Facebook Birch Photography Facebook
And here’s my painting of Digby – he’s off to his new owners this weekend, but at the moment he’s sat on my studio wall – and I have to confess to a soft spot for him too!
‘Digby’ Pet Portrait © Alyson Sheldrake
All these pictures of dogs must have softened my brain too as we even began to think about adopting a rescue dog – we saw a lovely puppy Andy at the show and we rang up to find out more about him, but sadly we felt that we were too busy through the summer months to take on the job of training what turned out to be a young puppy.
I’m glad to say however that Andy has been adopted by someone else – and we have now made a good contact with the SOS Algarve Animals charity, who re-home abandoned pets – and who knows, maybe later this year we might have our own ‘four legs and a wagging tail’ to enjoy?!
If you are interested in a Pet Portrait – you can find out more by clicking this logo here: