Every animal is different so capturing the unique character of a dog in a painting is important to make a portrait special. It’s the difference between making a portrait that looks like a generic miniature schnauzer/retriever/spaniel and it being your best friend.
Dogs play an important role in our lives and in many cases they have become more than pets – they are seen as one of the family. This is certainly the case in my family where dogs are a vital part of the family unit.
When I paint a pet portrait, I don’t just ask for one photograph to work from. It’s true that the final painting will be created from your favourite photograph, but it’s important for me to see photographs from a range of angles and in different poses. I always ask people for a brief description of their dog too so that I can imagine what they are like as I paint them – and hopefully bring some of that to the fore in the final painting!
It’s important that the photograph that will form the basis of the final painting reflects the character of the animal too. For example, if your dog is lively and interested in everything, it’s probably not best to choose a photograph where they are asleep on their bed!
The eyes and ears will often show the character of the dog best of all. Selecting a photograph that manages to capture that special glint in their eye or the way they look when they expect a walk or a treat can be a great way to show them. If they are interested in you (or whomever you have helping out) when you take the photograph, there is a greater chance of capturing that look of interest and affection in the final painting.
Below are two examples showing the photographs and the final paintings. In both examples the dogs are interested in a particular person nearby (the schnauzer was interested in a small child playing nearby and the boxer is looking expectantly at her owner). Capturing these moments can bring life and interest to the final painting, but capturing the animal when they are actively thinking rather than being passive can help bring their unique character to the fore.
For more information, read my guide to photographing your pet here.