Portrait of Two Sheep in Colorful Style

This painting is a portrait of two Lincoln Longwool sheep named Charlie (left) and Curtis (right).  This is a unique pet portrait, very different from my typical dog and cat portraits. It was created with acrylic paints on an 18″ x 24″ stretched canvas.  It was completed on September 5, 2020. It is painted in a very colorful style, using a lot of bright rainbow colors.  This is the very first time I have painted sheep, and it was a great learning experience, especially learning how to paint wool texture.

A Note on Painting White Animals

Sheep in general are mostly white, with many shades of gray and brown tones here and there.  White fur (or, in this case, wool) is never really “white”. There are many hidden tones and colors in the hairs, especially in the areas of shadow and shade.  Upon closer inspection, most “white” animals have lots of undertones in their fur, including creams, yellows, oranges, blues, and purples. It is fun to paint white animals and bring out all those hidden colors in a more saturated form.

Charlie and Curtis painting and photos

Charlie and Curtis painting and photos

Reference photos of sheep vs Painting

Above is a comparison of the reference photos that were used for the painting, and the painting itself. Both of the photo references were cell phone snaps of actual physical photographs (the king that are taken and developed on paper). They were adequate for my purposes, but I did need to look at clearer and more detailed photographs of this breed of sheep to fill in some details.  Other photos were provided by the owner to fill in other details, such as the eye color and ear markings.  Since these two sheep are in different stages of being sheared, I did a virtual “haircut” to Charlie (the one on the left) so it would match the other sheep’s wool length. I really liked the dramatic side-lighting of the first photo, and used that as my reference for the lighting.  I decided to make the lighting for the painting as a late afternoon sunlight, so the areas where the sun hits the sheep it is more orange and yellow, and the shadows and shaded areas are more purple and blue. The owner wanted them to be standing in a grassy field.  The grass that is closer to the foreground is in focus and detailed, and the grass more in the background is blurred like with a shallow depth of field.

Sheep Closeup

Sheep Closeup

Detailed View of Sheep

In the above photo you can see a close up view of the details in the painting. Here you can see the details in the eye, and the wool texture. It was created by using an old beat up brush that has the bristles sticking out in different directions.  That brush was perfect for creating this texture.  Sometimes, having an old beat up brush can be useful for something! I used a whole rainbow of color for this painting.

Charlie and Curtis photo vs scan

Charlie and Curtis photo vs scan

Photographing the Painting vs Scanning

Finally, the above photograph shows a comparison with the finished painting taken with a cell phone camera, vs the final one which was a professional scan.  This shows the dramatic difference between different sources of digitally acquiring paintings.  The photo was taken with my cell phone in indoor lighting (LED soft white lightbulbs, two directions), and with minor color and brightness corrections.  It is hard to tell from this small picture, but it is a bit blurry and there are a lot of compression artifacts, and the color is a bit off.  The scan on the right was done by a professional scanner, and the details are sharper and the colors more accurate to the actual painting.  I suggest to artists who wish to have their artwork reproduced as prints to get it scanned professionally and not make prints from cell phone snaps.  There is a huge difference in quality.


If you like this style of painting and want one of your own pet (or any animal), please visit my Pet Portraits Commission Page for more information.

This artwork is available in my online store as a fine art print, home decor products, and other gifts.  Please visit my Print Store for paper and framed prints, canvas prints, metal wall art, tapestries, tote bags, throw pillows, fleece blankets, face masks, and more.  Please visit my RedBubble Store for jigsaw puzzles, coffee mugs, stickers, coasters, clocks, socks, magnets and more cool products.