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Pet and Owner Portraits

Pet and owner portraits make wonderful gifts to hang on your wall.

I am dedicated to providing pet owners, like yourself, with high-quality artwork. My passion for animals makes me committed to creating beautiful portraits of your special pets.

However, sometimes I understand that you wish to have a portrait that shows the bond between the pet and another family member, be that another animal or a person. That special relationship creates its own stories, and I would love to help record an unforgettable memory for you.

Often these events can occur between your child and their best friend, capturing a moment in time to look back on when those in the drawing have grown up.

The family with their portrait of Bentley and Tori

All thoughts of photo technique go out the window at times like these; the most important focus is to capture that special moment forever.

Unwanted items in the background can be ignored when drawing your combined portrait, or something could even be added if you have a separate photograph.

Often these work best in graphite pencil, resembling a black and white photograph. This is because, unlike in a studio shot, the colors of the pet's fur and the person's clothing were not picked out beforehand, resulting in hues that could clash.

Adding a human to the commissioned drawing does add to the time it takes to complete the portrait but depicting a combination of a shared bond is time well spent when special memories are at stake. 

I can also be persuaded to draw a portrait of a special person, although animals are my first love. 

Tori and Bentley - an example

Joe's photo of the toddler and her friend Bentley

Take this wonderful snapshot of toddler Tori with her best friend and protector, Bentley the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. A family friend, Joe, took the photo one evening when Tori was ready for bed.

The thumb in the mouth, the smile on the dog's face, and Bentley's relaxed pose captured this adorable scene at the perfect moment. The parents knew it would make a gorgeous drawing to hang in their living room and approached me to see if I would be happy to add a child to the portrait.

As if I could refuse! My heart just melted and I agreed on the spot.

After much consideration, I removed the background items that weren't essential to the portrait - the pillows (or cushions as we call them here in the UK). 

This required me to "recreate" the section where they had been lying on the couch. The perspective of the couch was tricky but I reduced the detail in that area so as to not take the viewer's attention away from the child and her pet. 

The completed portrait of Tori and Bentley

Pet and owner portraits - the process

When drawing a portrait, I normally begin with the eyes. However, this time around, neither the dog's nor the little girl's eyes were visible. Therefore, I started with Bentley's face. I just couldn't resist that smile!

It also helps to get the deepest dark areas in quickly at the beginning to give a guide to how dark the rest of the tones (or values) can go.

I used a selection of graphite pencil grades, working in layers to achieve the desired tonal range. The shading on Bentley's white fur was very subtle compared to his features but necessary to give form to his body.

Some pet and owner portraits are high contrast, but for this drawing, I wanted to keep things high key instead. This means that even the darker areas were not black.

The shadows were still important to give depth to the overall composition. They help to show the direction of the light, and also areas where the light cannot reach. 

The focal point in this drawing was the dog's head where it meets the shadow in front of Tori, and so I used the darkest and lightest contrast there.

Beginning the drawing with the dog
The drawing is now ready for the background

Testimonial from the family

I thoroughly enjoyed this commission - it was a blast to deliver the finished portrait! The ecstatic family was over the moon with the results.

Jenny said. ... "I was a little skeptical whether it was possible to capture "the moment" in a drawing. I am truly delighted that you could. You have captured the very essence of Bentley and his love for Victoria, which she returns. I am very grateful to have a piece of artwork from such a talented artist on my walls. It is with pride that I can hang this alongside paintings created by my Grandparents, in my mini gallery."

Would you like to commission one of my pet and owner portraits?

Remember when you next get a beautifully lit photograph that captures a special moment between pet and owner, a portrait in pencil may just be possible!

If you liked this drawing and more importantly, if you'd like to see more of my work or commission a portrait of your own, please do take a moment to sign up to my newsletter below so that we can keep in touch.

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