Tag Archives: pet portrait

Colorful Pet Portrait Painting of Brown Tabby Kitten

My latest pet portrait painting was completed on May 15, 2020. The subject was a young long haired brown tabby kitten named Finnegan. His owner really loves the color red, and wanted me to incorporate a sunset color palette in his portrait. His portrait was painted using acrylic paints on a 9″ x 12″ stretched canvas.  You can see his portrait compared to the reference photo of him below.

Finnegan kitten portrait photo comparison

Finnegan kitten portrait photo comparison

He is laying on a fleece blanket, and I wanted to mimic that texture in my background, yet also use vibrant colors.  Originally, it was all red and yellow, but I felt that it was too harsh like that, so I toned down the yellow behind his head with light blue.  This also helps to divide the background into foreground and background, and the blue recedes a bit into the background providing some depth.

Even though I used an entire spectrum of colors to paint his fur, you can still tell he is a brown tabby kitten.  The brownish areas of his fur have a magenta, red, and orange undertone, with yellow, blue and green layered on top.  His stripes are created with dark purple and blue for contrast.  I used light blue along the lower edge of his arms and tail to separate him from the reds in the blanket.  No black was use in the creation of this portrait.  Areas that appear black in the painting are actually created using layers of dark purple.

Red paint has a tendency to look very dark and dull on the canvas.  Instead of red, I used fluorescent pink in many layers, along with orange, to create a bright vibrant red that seems to glow on the canvas. This is much more apparent in person than it is on the photo, as fluorescent colors do not scan accurately.  The result is a red that really stands out, instead of looking dull, washed out, and dark.  I recently started using a lot of fluorescent pink acrylic painting in my paintings and it really makes a huge difference in the vibrancy of the colors.

If you like this artwork and would like one of your own please visit my Pet Portraits Commission page for more information.

If you are instead interested in purchasing cat wall art for your home or office, please check out my Art Print Store online.

Colorful Pet Portrait of German Shepherd Dog

My latest colorful pet portrait creation is complete!  This is Kozmo, a long haired black and tan German Shepherd Dog.  His portrait was created with acrylic paints on a 9″ x 12″ stretched canvas.  I just completed it on April 23, 2020.  His owners requested that I use bright rainbow colors and incorporate a lot of warm colors such as red and orange.  You can see some close up views below.

I had a lot of fun creating this unique portrait.  The reference photo was of him sitting in the grass on a windy day and I wanted to include the wind blown fur in the portrait for a unique and dynamic touch.  The background is somewhat tie-dye inspired, with a base layer of green, blue, yellow and hot pink, with overlays of more colors in splotches and brush strokes.  For the black areas of his portrait, I used mainly blue and purple, then overlayed brush strokes of green, yellow, magenta, and orange as highlights.  The tan areas are mainly yellows and oranges, with some blue, green, hot pink, and a little white as highlight.  Only his eye color was left natural, as amber with a darker border of brown.  No black was used in the creation of this painting.  Areas that appear black are actually several layers of dark purple.

For this painting, I really pushed the color.  My older pet portraits and paintings are rather conservative, since I am not sure how people will like having a rainbow psychedelic portrait of their dog or cat.  But I am feeling more and more comfortable using bright colors and really including the whole rainbow in my portraits. I got a good reception from this painting, so I feel more confident to use brighter rainbow colors in my future portraits.

Comparison of photo and painting

Comparison of photo and painting

Above you can see a comparison of the photo on the left with the painting on the right.  A few minor changes were made to the dog for the painting.  The photo was taken at an angle which caused foreshortening, and made the head appear too large and the body appear too small.  I corrected that using other photos of this dog to create a more accurate representation of his proportions.

It is a unique take on traditional pet portraits.  The style is realism with a colorful twist.  The portrait is created with close attention to detail.  I try to match colors and tones to the real colors of the dog.  You can tell this is a black and tan German Shepherd, even though it is mostly blue and orange.

If you want a Colorful Pet Portrait of your own pet, please read the information on my Pet Portraits page and use the contact form at the bottom.

Tote bags and more

Tote bags and more

If you are interested in purchasing this artwork as an art print and more, please visit my Gallery Store.  This is available as wall art (art print, framed art print, canvas print, acrylic print, metal print, wood print, tapestry), home decor (throw pillow, fleece blanket, coffee mug, duvet cover, shower curtain, beach towel), greeting card, spiral notebook, cell phone case, and tote bag.

Colorful Pet Portrait of MC

Colorful Tabby Cat Pet Portrait

Just completed on April 7, 2020 is this colorful pet portrait of a brown and white tabby cat named MC.  It was created with acrylic paints on a 12″ x 16″ stretched canvas.  The portrait was created using a photograph as a reference with a few modifications. You can see a larger version of this painting in my Pet Portraits portfolio.

The “brown” tabby stripes of this cat are actually created with a whole rainbow of colors!  Instead of large areas of the same color, I used a small round paintbrush to create fur texture using different colors next to each other in small amounts.  This creates an illusion where when viewed from a distance, the colors merge and become brown, but when viewed up close, you can see each brush stroke is a different color.  Click on the images below to see a close up view of the details in the face and body fur.

It was both a challenge and fun to create the tabby stripes on MC. Tabby markings aren’t just stripes.  They are usually blotches and spots as well.  Brown tabbies actually aren’t brown at all.  Their fur features what is called an “agouti” pattern, where each individual hair has bands of color along it, known as “ticking”.  When a lot of these hairs are grouped together, they give the illusion of color and markings.

The white areas of his fur were also created with multiple colors. The light source for the reference photo was from the right side, so it created a nice shadow on the side of his face.  I created this in the painting by using lots of blue and purple colors.  I balanced the cool blues and purples with warm pinks, orange and yellow throughout the white areas.

I chose the background color, a gradient of yellows, greens, and blues, to bring out the rich green color of his eyes.  The style I used for the background is what I call confetti. I create a gradient of the lighter colors first, then layer short thick brush strokes of the adjacent color overtop.  This creates an interesting yet non distracting background.  The lighter area of the background (yellow) is adjacent to the darkest areas of the cat’s body.  The darkest area of the background (blue and purple) is adjacent to the lightest areas of the cat’s portrait, mainly the face and upper body.  This contrast helps the cat “pop” out from the background.

MC photo and painting comparison

MC photo and painting comparison

Above you can see the comparison of the photo reference on the left to the painting on the right.  You can see that some changes were made to the portrait compared to the photo.  I rotated the reference photo so the cat was more horizontal.  The collar was removed.  The chair and background were changed, bringing the focus on the cat.  The orientation of his ears was modified slightly, bringing them more forward.  This gives the cat a more relaxed appearance.  In the photo the cat’s ears are more flattened toward the side, sometimes called “airplane ears”.  This can typically indicate displeasure or stress, or maybe he was listening to something in the background.  But it gives the impression of irritation, and I thought it would be better to have the ears at a more relaxed angle.

If you enjoy this painting, and want a similar one of your own pet, please visit my Pet Portrait Information page here to learn more about the process.

This painting is available as a fine art print in my gallery store.  Choose from multiple paper types with hundreds of options for framing.  You can also choose a canvas print, metal print, acrylic print, or wood print.  Other products available are a cell phone case, throw pillow, fleece blanket, coffee mug, tote bag, wall tapestry, greeting cards, and a spiral notebook.

Poseidon Zeus Hades

Multiple Dog Pet Portrait Acrylic Painting on Canvas

My latest pet portrait painting is complete!  Finished March 19, 2020.  This portrait is created with acrylic paints on a 12″ x 16″ stretched canvas. From left to right, they are: Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades.  Poseidon is a Keeshond, and so is Zeus, and Hades is a shepherd mixed breed.

Please click on the pictures below to see close up view of all three dogs.


This painting was created with my signature colorful style, but in a slightly different way. Looking at a small thumbnail version of the picture, the dogs look fairly normal, somewhat grey and black.  However, once you zoom in and see the details you can see that no grey or brown was used. The fur details of the dogs was created using the entire spectrum of colors in small impressionistic brush strokes.  For example, in the “white” areas of Zeus’ face, you can see purple, blue, green, yellow, magenta, orange, and red.  This creates a very interesting visual illusion. I chose this method because these dogs do not have solid colors.  Instead, their fur has an agouti, or ticked, appearance.  The grey areas of the dogs are actually made up of hairs that have small black and white bands that give the appearance of grey from a distance.

Comparing the painting with the photo

Comparing the painting with the photo

Here you can see a comparison view of the painting vs the reference photo. This painting is actually rather atypical for me, since I rarely use the reference photo exactly as it is. I usually do a composite of multiple photos, even for a single portrait. By compositing, I mean maybe I will use one photo reference for the overall position, but a different one for the eyes and yet another one for the markings. Most of the pictures I get to use as my references for pet portraits are cell phone shots, and they tend to be a bit out of focus, too dark, too small, taken from too far away and there is loss of detail, lots of compression artifacts, or maybe some bit got cut off. So I tend to pick one that I like best for the main reference and use the others to fill in the details. This is fine, expected, and part of the process of being a pet portrait artist. This photo was exceptional and perfect, and I didn’t feel like there needed to be any changes made.

If you like my art style and want to commission a pet portrait of your own, please visit my information page.

You may also visit my Etsy Store.

Color Choices Affect the Mood of a Painting

I recently had the unique opportunity to create three almost identical paintings for the same client.  She wanted them to be mostly the same except for the backgrounds.  This provided an opportunity for me to showcase how choosing background colors and color schemes can affect the mood and feel of a painting.

Green color background

Green Color Background

Blue Color Background

Blue Color Background

Gradient Background

Gradient Background

This painting is a three dog pet portrait that was created with acrylic paints on 16″ wide x 20″ tall stretched canvas. The original was the one with the green background, on the left.  The second was the one with the dark blue and purple background.  The third painting has a background that is a gradient of purple, blue, green, and yellow.  Each portrait was created by hand using acrylic paints on canvas, these are not digital manipulations!

Except for the background colors, these are essentially the same painting (besides some improvement on technique). This gives a unique illustration into how the background colors that are chosen can affect the mood and energy of the painting.  The bright green and yellow one has a vibrant and energetic energy.  However, the colors of the dogs do not stand out as well, since they are similar in tone (lightness vs darkness) to the background.  The dark blue one has a peaceful, almost somber mood.  However, the light and bright colors of the dogs stand out really well, and almost “pop” out from the dark background. The orange of the pitbull contrasts really well with the dark blue, taking advantage of complimentary colors in the color theory. The gradient background has a nice blend of both of these, creating a lively background while the dogs still “pop”, and the multi-color background seems to enhance the colors of the dogs, even though i used the same color palette on both.

It is interesting to note that I tend to use cool colors (blue, green, purple) in the backgrounds of my paintings. There are a couple of reasons for this.  One has to do with the base colors of the dog.  If the dog is warm colored (various shades of brown, tan, etc), the color choices I make for the fur tend to be warm colors (red, orange, yellow, magenta).  These warm colors contrast best with a cool colored background.  For dogs that are white, black, or gray, I tend to use a lot of cool colors, with splashes of warm colors as highlights.  For these, I tend to keep my background lighter and more warmer (yellows).

Another reason for using cool colors for the background is an interesting property of colors, where warm colors seem to “advance”, or come forward, where cool colors seem to “recede”.  The bright orange pitbull definitely pops out against a blue background.

These portraits are available in my online store for purchase as a fine art print, tote bag, cell phone case, and much more! Please visit my Gallery Store on Pixels to see them all.

Other Color Schemes

Using complementary colors is not the only way to enhance the portrait.  Using analagous colors (colors close to the other colors on the color wheel) can also create a different kind of mood.  Warm colored dogs may “pop” out from a cool colored, canvas, but a warm background can enhance their warmth of these colors.  It may also benefit to pick one key color and use that as a background color to bring out something, such as eye color.

Here is an example of a warm color scheme, which enhances the warm colors on the dog:

Dog pet portrait with warm color scheme

Warm color scheme

Here is an example of a color scheme where I take an element of the animal eye color) and use that as my background color choice.  This enhances the eye color, and makes it stand out.

To order your own custom colorful pet portrait, please click on the Pet Portraits link above or the image below.

Custom Colorful Pet Portraits from your Photo

Custom Colorful Pet Portraits from your Photo

Five Dog Colorful Pet Portrait on Canvas

I recently completed the largest pet portrait I have done to date. It was created with acrylic paints on a 24″ tall by 36″ wide stretched canvas. This painting took me 6 weeks to complete.  It was completed on February  4, 2020 and features five dogs sitting in the snow.  Four of the dogs are Australian Shepherds, and one is a mixed breed shepherd.  Their names, from left to right, are Caliber, Jerry, Chips, Ammo and Lexi.  This was based on an actual photograph taken by the customer, with all five dogs sitting patiently in the snow, waiting for their picture to be taken!  It was such a great and unique picture that the customer wanted it to be captured as a portrait for his wall.

Please click on the thumbnails below to see closeups of each of the dogs.

This portrait was created with my signature colorful realism style.  I used their real colors and markings as a base for which colors were chosen.  You can still tell what their real colors are looking at the painting, even though full saturation bright colors were used instead.  The dog on the far left, Caliber, is a tri-color (black, copper and white).  Her black areas are represented by purples and blues, the copper areas by orange, yellow, and magenta, and the shadows in the white areas by an assortment of colors.  The next dog, Jerry, is a blue merle with copper and white,. The blue merle parts were also represented by various shades of blues and purples, and the copper by red, orange and yellow. The dog in the middle is Chips, the shepherd mixed breed. his fur is a black and tan color, like a German shepherd.  His fur is a colorful mixture of red, orange, yellow and magenta for the tan areas, and blue and purple for the black areas. The next dog is Ammo, the red tricolor.  The red areas of his fur were created with various shades of magenta, brick red, orange, and purple.  The copper areas were created with red, orange and yellow.  And the white areas with a mixture of all kinds of colors.  The last dog on the right is Lexi, and her coloration is similar to Jerry, but she has blue eyes and a slighter body structure.

Above you can see the two main photos that I used as the references for the portrait. The process for this painting was very meticulous.  The owner picked out a really good photo to use as the main reference, but minor modifications were made.  For example, Caliber, the dog on the left, was laying down in the original photograph, so her reference photo was trade for one where she was sitting up.  Also, Lexi originally was next to Caliber, but the customer wanted her moved to the right side.  It was a great decision, and the result created a more balanced composition.

My first step in the creation of this portrait was to sketch out each dog individually, then scan them into my computer and digitally create the composition.  Once a composition was agreed upon, the sketch was printed out and then transferred to the canvas using graphite transfer paper.  This is my preferred method of transferring a sketch to canvas, as it leaves a nice clean sketch without eraser marks.  The background was painted first, then each dog, and finally the snow was painted last.

This was a fun project, challenging, and also a learning experience.  I take joy and pride in the portrait I have created, and hope to have the opportunity to do more like this in the future.

The owners were kind enough to allow me to make this painting available as a fine art print.  Please visit my store to purchase this artwork as a print on paper, stretched canvas, acrylic, metal, or wood. There are hundreds of options for framing and matting. It is also available as a greeting card and a coffee mug.

5 Dog Pet Portrait

Wall Art options

To order your own custom colorful pet portrait, please click on the Pet Portraits link above or the image below.

Custom Pet Portraits from your Photo

Custom Pet Portraits from your Photo


2018 Pet Portrait Commissions

2018 Pet Portrait Commissions

I have been very prolific this year as an artist.  In addition to the 16 original paintings I created, I have 10 commissions, 9 of which are Pet Portrait commissions.  The majority of commissions this year were dogs, with one cat.  With two exceptions, all of these portraits were created with acrylic paints on stretched canvas.  It is a media that I have come to really love, and now work almost exclusively with it.  My style for these portraits is somewhat impressionistic, yet with realistic anatomy and proportions.  I typically use bright bold vibrant colors, while trying to maintain the color tones and markings of my subjects.  Thus I call my style “colorful realism”.

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