Earlier this year I was commissioned to paint a portrait of much loved family pet, Storm. The handsome Siberian husky was from of a pack of 5, but unfortunately, he passed away back in March. The family, who I’d only just met days before, naturally were devastated, so wanted to have something painted, in honour of him.
The clients requested that Storm be resting in a bluebell wood, in acrylic on canvas. This was exciting, as it’s been a while since I’ve painted a landscape in acrylic, plus mostly the background to my paintings are quite plain or simple patches of colour. Having a background scene meant that I got to exercise painting skills and techniques that I haven’t for quite a while.
After sketching Storm’s general shape, I began with the overall layout, mapping in areas of colour. I use an array of reference images of bluebell filled woods, but I could see in my head how I wanted the piece to be. Quite quickly, the painting took shape, and I was happy with how the woods were growing.
Once my brush started on Storm, the creative juices really began flowing, and it was all I could do to tear myself away from it occasionally! He really was a handsome dog, and acrylic the perfect medium to illustrate his thick, lustrous fur. I tend to critique my work inwardly throughout the process of creating a portrait (not infrequently I can be heard to say that I hate a painting before I complete it), but this time, not once did I doubt myself. He seemed to want to come alive through the paint. However, there were a couple of areas that caused some issues; Storm’s left eye took a few retries before it was right, and his markings on his face were quite hard to make out on his photo, so that had to be adjusted a few times. Once these things were sorted though, I felt quite proud of what I had achieved.
I finished the painting just in time for a show, and the clients were generous enough to let me take the portrait to Artfest, a one-day exhibition as part of the Banbury and District show. This was a pleasure, as I can usually only showcase my pet portraits with a portfolio of photos. This time though, Storm got to sit centre stage! He had a few admirers too. The lovely couple who commissioned me, came along to the show to collect the painting, armed with flowers and a card! Such a lovely thing to do, I knew they must have really been pleased with Storm’s portrait. I was almost sad to see the painting go, but I knew that it meant so much to the family, that any feelings of gloom were replaced with a joy that I’d made a little bit of a difference to the sad loss of a pet.
I really do enjoy painting portraits of our furry friends, and there is always an added special touch when the pet has passed away. It becomes then not just a pleasure, but an honour, and Storm was definitely that.
If you’re interested in having one of your animals eternalised in paint, please give me a shout.