When I began painting pet portraits in 2001, my dogs Kramer & Stuart were my inspiration. I quickly filled my house with paintings of them, and while these portraits remain some of my favorites, I harbored a secret desire to paint huge pictures of them to hang in my dining room.
It took a couple of years to get around to it, but when I did, it only took a weekend to do both of them.
Kramer, acrylic on canvas, 36×36, 2003
Stuart, acrylic on canvas, 36×36, 2003
I really like using latex wall paint for my portraits because the consistency is good to work with, especially for backgrounds. After choosing the photos on which the paintings would be based, I painted each canvas with latex paint I had left over from painting rooms in my house. Next, I transferred the images on to the canvases by drawing grids on both the sample image and the canvas (scaling up). Using a pencil, I simply drew what appeared in each square of the sample photo in the corresponding square on the canvas. This is a little tricky, but it actually went pretty fast and I was pleased with the result.
Once I had transferred my images onto the canvases, I simply painted in all of the details. In some ways, the size of these canvases made the process more difficult in that it was harder for me to capture such important details as the expression in the eyes or the blend of the fur. And truth be told I’m not 100% satisfied with the results, although these paintings have a central spot in my home and I love them. And others love them as well–I get a lot of compliments from visitors and I’ve gotten more than one commission from people who know my dogs, have seen the work hanging in my own home, and want one for themselves or for a gift.
Besides, no pet lovers home would be complete without giant-sized portraits of their loved ones, right? (Or am I just obsessed with my dogs?)