• Olly Jordan

Chapter 82 - Commission - Pet Portrait - Sophie - 2019


Sophie - A2 425gsm bockington Watercolour Paper

Sophie was a commission from my colleague at work, I work part-time as a server at a restaurant in the evenings for now so I have so stable form of income while I paint during the day and try to build a name for myself. This is a painting that I struggled with, again, much like with Veronica Lodge and Archie Andrews, it wasn't a great photo reference to work from. I am still happy with the outcome, I wouldn't have set it off to a client if I didn't think I had done a good job, but I just look at this piece and see the struggles I had with creating the details because the photo reference wasn't great to be honest.

I started the commission process by picking the best photo from a bunch that were sent to me, then edited some potential background colours behind the dog so that my client could see what the end product could potentially look like as you can see above. Giving a quick mockup like this allows both me and the client to see potential ideas. He originally said a soft yellowish colour, but I gave a few suggestions of my own as a way to help see as many different variants that could suit the portrait, I even included a pink as that would have gone with the harness of the dog. We ended up agreeing on a background colour that was more orangey in colour as that would go with the colours used within the pet portrait itself.


Once we agreed on the style of background, it was a case of just creating the painting itself. As discussed at the beginning of this post though, I did struggle with the painting as the photo wasn't of a high quality and also slightly blurry. You can see even from the background roughs that the fur is kind of just block colours and not like short hairs that the dog is obviously covered in. I had to use my imagination for alot of the portrait to add details. This photo would have been fine to work from if it was a small painting being produced, but it was A2 in size, so alot bigger than the dog in real life, so details are important if you want a realistic portrait. I think I managed to pull it off, but to be honest, its not my best piece of work. I should have asked for a higher quality photo, now on my website that is listed as a requirement for one of the steps for booking a commission with me - discussing the photo references along with background design choices.

One thing I do like from the portrait is the way that I painted the harness. I have added photos above that help illustrate how I did it. I used this process in my painting Tessa Thompson back in 2018 t create her waffle texture dress. I started with a block base colour which was the darker tone, then printed a netting texture over the top in a slightly lighter shade of pink using fishnet tights. The fishnet tights allowed me to also create realism through the use of perspective. The tights are stretchy, so making the tights wider at the points that are closer to the front of the dogs body and thinner at points that are in the distance allowed me to help capture the shape and form of the dog's body as well as to easily recreate the texture of the harness.


Although I may not personally think this is the best painting in my portfolio, my client did really like it and has it framed up at home now, and that is the main thing. As an artist, you will never be 100% happy with a piece of artwork, there is always something that you will want to change, but it is sometimes a case where you have to accept that it has reached its finishing point and move on. I think the painting is still good, I just personally see the struggle I faced when I look at the painting, like areas like the ears and nose where I had to make things up without actually having seen the dog.


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