Tag Archives: pet portraits

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

2019 Year in Review – Pet Portraits

2019 has been a busy year for me for pet portraits! I have completed 11 portraits, which is more than last year. Whereas the last few years have been mostly friends and friends of friends, this year I have done many more portraits for those I don’t know personally. I am happy that my pet portrait business is taking off, and people are able to find my website and Etsy listings. I also completed my first multi-pet portrait (the three dogs) and the owner was so pleased with it she wants me to paint two more!

I have one of my friends to thank for getting me into this business in the first place. She reached out to me three years ago and asked me to paint her pet’s portraits, even though at that time I really had not painted any dogs or cats. Since then, I have created 25 portraits for customers all over the United States. It has been a little bumpy the last few years: not knowing what to charge, how people will find me, what style I should do, and if people will even like my art! But I feel like I am making progress, I am getting better every time I complete a portrait, and people are finally finding me online specifically for pet portraits. I already have several portraits booked into the next year, something that has not happened before!

I am also having fun creating artwork from my customer’s photos. I know that not many artists will take commissions for a multitude of reasons, and bad photos are one of them. However, I actually don’t mind getting reference photos which are less than ideal, since it allows me to use my artistic license and really create a work of art. It is a challenge to create a portrait from a small and grainy photo, but I feel like my colorful realistic yet slightly impressionistic style is well suited for the task, since I don’t need to focus too much in every little hair. And it is especially a joy when I do get a great photo to work from!

Please enjoy this review of my portraits from the past year, and look forward to more in the upcoming 2020 year!


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