My most difficult painting ever (but why I will always treasure it)
A painting of MY pet
Junior came into our life from a rescue. I had been looking at adds in the papers because we wanted to adopt a dog into our family. The kids were still young but no babies and they were used to dogs already. It felt like the right time. The dog we went to see turned out to be not suitable for us. But we saw this handsome little Lab mix puppy sitting in a kennel and we fell in love instantly. A few days later, the puppy was brought to us by the nice lady from the rescue and the rest is history. Junior was the perfect addition to our family. Playful, intelligent, cuddly, smart and always up for a game of football or a walk.
The perfect friend
Junior wasn’t just a perfect family member and friend to us. But he also took to the new 4 legged family additions like a star. Nothing faced him. I still remember bringing Red home for the first time. Red came from a less than ideal home. He smelled so bad and his lovely long fur was badly matted, his body way too thin. He was a sorry sight. I picked him up and put him in the car with Junior. You should have seen the look of disgust on Juniors face when he got the whiff of poor Red! I almost couldn’t stop laughing. But like a star, he endured the smell and gave his frightened companion a shoulder to lean on while we drove home. I gave both a bath when we got home and from then on, Junior was the rock in Red’s life. He was the rock in all our lives.
Our worst nightmare
Junior was nearing his 10th birthday. He still loved his walks, even though they were a little slower and shorter now. But one day he stopped halfway and needed a rest. That was strange. Then his ears got a little infected and didn’t want to clear up. So we did a full check-up at the vets and they found a lump in his shoulder. We took blood for tests but we all knew what the result would be. Junior was diagnosed with Cancer. An operation was no option for him, we could only make him comfortable with meds. Our time was limited.
A portrait full of love
I took him out in the garden that day with my boys for a photo session, desperate to get a photo worth painting. I felt the need to get his portrait done before I would have to say goodbye. It was never a question in my mind that it would be a painting instead of a drawing. I always loved his gorgeous eyes and I knew I needed to capture that color of deep amber. He was our first dog and I wanted to create a painting of my pet, my friend. A painting worthy of him.
I got my photo and I finished his painting. It was a labor of love but it was healing and therapeutic. I painted while he slept at my feet. A few days after it was finished, Junior’s meds gave him severe reactions. We couldn’t let him suffer and it was time to say goodbye to our friend.
Years have passed and I still miss him. But I know he is watching us with his amber eyes. His painting gives me the feeling that he is still with us, looking over us. If you would like to see the finished work, here is a link to the painting of my pet.
Featured pet portrait
Sheepdogs in Scotland
This time the stars of the featured pet blog post are 2 gorgeous sheepdogs by the names Ernie and Mac. Strictly speaking, they are working dogs rather than pet dogs. But they are loved and highly valued by their family. Madge and her husband breed and work these dogs on their farm in Scotland. And I believe they are quite successful at it too!
This commission painting was created by combining 3 different photos into 1 painting. While this is no problem, it makes matters a little more complicated. In an ideal world, the 2 dogs would be in the same picture so I can see the size of the dogs against each other. But the owners told me they were roughly the same size, so I could work with this information.
Working from multiple reference photos
When creating a painting from multiple reference photos, it can feel like working with puzzle pieces. You keep putting them together in different ways until you find a combination that works. For this painting, I came up with 15 different versions for the owners to choose from. Thank goodness for photoshop lol Luckily I had a lot of photos to chose from, so I could play with lots of different combinations. So first of all, I forwarded all 15 to the owners and let them choose the one they liked the most.
Then the real work started. When combining different photos, my first job is to make sure that all the shadows are showing the light coming from the same direction. After that, the colors may also need adjusting. For example, 2 black dogs can look very different if you take the photo of one of them on a sunny afternoon and the other one indoors under tungsten light bulbs! Luckily, there wasn’t such a huge issue with this painting. All photos were taking in the same place, on the same day.
I loved painting these 2 gorgeous sheepdogs. Their glossy fur really shows the care their owners take of them and their bright eyes made me understand that working sheepdogs are happy doing their jobs. The landscape behind them shows their home, the land they work on. It was a challenging painting but a very enjoyable one too. I learned a lot about sheepdogs and their owners. And if you get to do this and enjoy your craft, this got to be a great thing.