Our son's dogs, Clara and Troy
On my morning walk the other day, a fellow and his dog moved off the trail to give me 6 feet of social distancing. I smiled and commented on his beautiful dog, and he said " If there is one group of critters on this planet that is over the moon with happiness these days, it's our dogs. What could be better for them than to have all their favorite people home all the time?" Isn't that the truth? And it goes for any pet that enjoys the company of their pack.
Having them around is good for us people too, especially now, when we can only enjoy the company of our human friends and family via the telephone or video conferencing. A head or paw on the knee is a reminder that someone cares and that someone needs us too. Since our beloved airedale died, my pet interaction has been with our son's two rescues, and I love them. I'm looking forward to when I'll be able to join them on their daily walks again.
I've also enjoyed the experience of painting people's pets, mostly dogs, and some cats too. Pet portraits are fun for several reasons. Animals have interesting shapes, and I love to draw them. There are lots of angles, and spots and varied coloring add to the puzzle. There's something there to hold onto when you start to draw.
To create a pet portrait, I usually start with an under painting in one color, showing the darks and lights, which is my map for the color layer. It's a huge help, and part of the process I teach my students for any painting. Next I begin the color layer with the darkest of the dark paint, in fairly large shapes, and move to the lightest. Then, while the painting is still wet, a top layer of detail, and I'm done. Above and below are some examples of that process.
Another fun thing about painting pets is that these paintings are usually commissions. In a commission I get to learn a lot more about the subject and what it means to my client than happens when I create a painting based on my own preferences. I get to hear about the animal's personality, and stories about their antics. A successful painting is one that means something to someone, to a particular person or family. Pet portraits give me an opportunity to create that meaning for those who've lost a pet or are intent on treasuring their current furry friend.
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