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Friday, December 26, 2014

Dog Portrait Commission

Dog Portrait Commission
12 x 16", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c)2014
These past several weeks have been extra busy with travel mixed in with painting and pen and ink sketches. Today I'd like to share a fun commission that I had the pleasure of creating for a new client who wanted to make this portrait a Christmas gift surprise.

All of the preliminary work for this painting was done via email. After the initial inquiry, a variety of photographs were sent to me; I was given the freedom to create from those and work on the composition from there.

This is the photo I used as my main reference photo. As you can see, the ears on both dogs were cropped and by using the additional photos, I was able to paint them back in. Also, the photo was a bit dark in places and so I enjoyed the artistic freedom of adding light and color that I saw in some of the other photos.

Stage 1: The sketch. I approach every initial sketch for a portrait painting as though I am painting from life and so I paint it freehand, using the eyes as reference points for the rest of the features. Getting the angles and likeness right is very important at this stage. I really liked the pose of these two pooches; the way their beautiful faces came closely together, leaning into each other, was endearing.
Stage 2: Blocking in the main colors. Another nice touch to this painting was the way the the two dogs complimented each other with the color and markings of their coats. Because of some of their similar colors I was able to paint each of the dogs simultaneously. In this layer I did not worry about details and texture, instead I focused on their main shapes of color.

Stage 3: Completing the painting. This final layer is always pure fun for me. I enjoy applying thick paint with a palette knife and then moving it around with a coarse haired paint brush. Colors are enhanced and details applied. The final touches involved a small, fine paintbrush that gave me the ability to paint in the suggestions of their whiskers. 

The background was also a blast. My client requested light blue, grayish colors with touches of yellow. That was an easy request to fulfill since the colors of the dogs had already lent themselves to that type of background as a nice option.

Painting commissions are always an honor for me. To be a part of a story where kindness and generosity is involved is so special.