Every year, I enjoy painting more and more. The reason? There are always new challenges and overcoming them can feel like a real accomplishment.
An example is this painting of Dolly and Bella.
Just like about 50% of my work last year, the portrait of these two lovely dogs was to be given as a gift. Gifts can be challenges no matter what, first in getting the best photo without the recipient finding out and then in the timing.
This particular portrait was a gift for my client’s adult daughter. With some planning, I was able to organize a rendezvous to take the photos, and that’s when the fun began.
Originally, I thought the painting was only of one dog, but as it turns out, I was asked to paint two dogs. This is not unusual or challenging of itself, as you know from some of my other paintings, but this particular situation was a bit unique.
Getting the Pictures
One of the dogs, Bella, was a rescue, and, as it turned out, was afraid of some men. It is difficult to get a good photo of a frightened dog. The other dog, Dolly, who wasn’t feeling well that day, oddly enough was the one who would not stop moving! I did get a shot of both, but it included the client and was too far away. I also tried putting their favorite toys on a blanket to grab a photo of them together, but that didn’t work.
After crawling around on the ground and sneaking about (check out my blog post on how to get good photos of your pet), I managed to get over 100 photos and, finally, two separate pictures of the dogs that might work. Then I had to get them to the correct size and then meld them together in the position the client wanted.
The Most Important Thing
My client had a couple of poses that she thought would typify her daughter’s pets. In addition, she had specific marking on the dogs that she wanted to be shown in the painting. After some drawings and sketches (see one of my posts on the process), she agreed to the planned portrait.
I painted the portrait and delivered it to the client, but I could immediately tell that she was not as excited as my clients normally are when they see the portraits. I asked what was wrong. After some persuading, she admitted that she thought that one of the dogs would be sitting. When I mentioned the drawing that she had approved, she said she was so focused on the positioning of their heads, that she didn’t pay attention to the body positions. We both laughed and I said that I would redo. The most important challenge? Making sure portraits like this are something you love not just something you think is ok.
I redid the painting with the positional change and delivered it once more. This time my client was happy, but I told her that if her daughter was not thrilled with the gift, I would redo the portrait until she was.
After Christmas, I received my own gift – something I can only hope for in all of my work – an email from my client that said this:
“My daughter cried and was thrilled with her painting of her two beloved friends.”
My deepest gratitude to all of the clients who have trusted me with their treasured memories. I look forward to this next year of “challenges”.