Creating a Pet Portrait

People often ask me about how I go about painting a pet portrait so I thought I'd do a quick blog to show the stages from beginning to completion.

The first image shown is the photo the client chose for me to paint. These two gorgeous ginger cats Harry and George are brothers from the same litter. Sadly earlier this year, one day Harry returned home injured and passed away. George was so distressed that he ran away and their owner Kate was absolutely devastated at losing both cats within a few days. Happily George returned home after 3.5 months and shortly after this painting was completed. His return was such a wonderful surprise and a huge comfort to Kate as it helped to ease the sad loss of his brother a little.

I begin by choosing a background colour which will generally harmonise and pull everything together - this is because the background colour (or ground) will show through slightly without being obvious. In this painting - as the cats are essentially red/orange/brown I went for my "go to" mid tone mocha/brown coloured pastel paper.

Then I work out what size I want the painting to be and sketch the subject/s in. I generally get the detail of the eyes in first. Then I begin to block in the dark and mid colours quite loosely, working all over the all areas of the painting so I can get an overall feel of how it will look when finished.

I continue to cover the paper with colour and then gradually increase and build up the detail. I complete the painting with the highlights which you can see in the last photograph which just lifts the whole image.

Finally I sign it and then send a photograph of it to the client for approval. Once approved and the payment is received I post the painting flat in sturdy card packaging and waterproof mailing bag.

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