One of the most poignant moments in the life of an animal portrait artist happens when one is commissioned to provide a posthumous portrait. I have never yet done a portrait of a pet where I haven’t fallen in love with the subject, and handing over the finished work to the clients can be a moving experience. The love the owners had for the subject of this portrait, an English Bull Terrier, was obvious from the start, and it was really nice to meet them in person and hand over the framed portrait. The dog’s posture in the reference photo lent itself to a composition with strong lines and contrasting colours. The reference hinted at a certain nobility of character, I thought. His name, appropriately enough, was “Duke.”
The work of an animal portrait artist is never dull. It’s amazing how different animals can be, even when they are of the same breed, and how much you can tell of their personalities just by looking through photos of them. This pair of Dachshunds is a case in point. I hope I managed to capture the elegance of the long haired Dachshund, Serge, and the playfulness of his wire-haired companion, Lou. Lou definitely had a twinkle in his eye!
The most technically challenging part of the portrait was the creation of a blue ball, which did not appear in the main reference photo, between Lou’s paws. To make such an object look solid and three dimensional, the form and cast shadows have to be just right. If you look closely, you’ll see I’ve added a green tinge to the underside of the ball to give the impression of grass reflecting on the ball’s surface. Small details like that can make a big difference to the outcome when you are striving for realism in a portrait.