Painting the Dog

ladybug, dog and flowers

Professional dog portraits by a local artist were recently shared in my sister-in-law’s social channel. Painted by a local artist, they capture the personality and whimsy of their dog and cat subjects.

Last summer, I included some small paintings of my dog Mo in a summer highlight collection of small acrylic paintings. It was a departure from my normal flowers and trees which are forgiving when it comes to shape and size. (Thank heavens for biodiversity.)

Part of the challenge with pet paintings is getting everything proportionally correct. I had read about sold out paint party nights where the hosts use projectors to place images onto canvases and then trace them before the guests arrive. They then provide guests with tips on painting realistic features such as eyes and fur.

With my initial small home paintings, I printed photos on paper proportionally sized to the painting size. This gave me the confidence to trace various features before painting in the individual elements. These first attempts are small, just 3 inches in diameter on cardboard, but I felt I had captured some of Mo’s personality in the images and found colour mixes that worked.

With the latest head and shoulders portrait, I decided to do a test painting on another reused background. I applied gesso (primer) on a frozen pizza box to use as media. I started with basic background in yellow and white acrylic. From there, I sketched an outline in pencil on the dried background from a photo. Although the real-life model was sitting just a few feet away, she became suspicious when I approached her to view her fine features up close.

Mona (acrylic on pizza box!), by Valerie Ferrier

I learned a lot of the process. Some elements I like, others show room for improvement. I will keep practicing my pencil sketches and I am planning to review the following tutorial by Lauren Elizatheh Fine Art tutorial. My next Mo portrait will be on canvas.

Painting Your Dog in Acrylics, by Lauren Elizabeth Fine Art

If art is not your thing, I would encourage you to find a local artist to capture a lasting tribute to your pet friend. Times are tough for many creative people with current closures and restrictions. Pet portraits make appreciated gifts and are a great tribute to special friends.


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