portrait of Jake

April 8, 2012

I’ve been teaching a pet portrait painting (gotta love alliteration) class at the local city arts center. When I approach doing
a dog or cat portrait, I go first for the eyes and the nose, getting those facial elements elements right makes all the difference
between capturing the pet’s likeness and personality. So to offer up a demonstration, I painted this portrait of a neighbors
medium sized dog, Jake.

Jake’s a mix of something that could be poodle or bichon or who knows. His owner found him deserted in a parking lot years
ago, with no tags or ID, so she brought him home.

Anyway as I was saying, I wanted to give a demo and what makes this a good subject is that the area around the eyes and nose
is just all this shaggy white hair that doesn’t require the tight accuracy the eyes and nose does. Just keep the proportions in check, the light/dark areas that help define shape and you can produce a very good likeness. One of the things I like best about Jake’s
face is that when he is looking up at you, his dark colored bottom lip shows through the light color fur and creates an effect that looks like a  smile. I ended up painting this using one of these canvas pad tablets (instead of a pad of paper, its a pad of canvas sheets) as it was easily portable and fast to produce in a class situation.

12"x 16" oil on canvas NFS

12″x 16″ oil on canvas

I didn’t bother to paint the background, just left it the canvas white. Which worked well with this “white-furred” dog, the subtle yellows and grays in his fur had enough contrast to stand alone on the pure white canvas sketch pad.

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