People often ask me what my process is in creating a commissioned pet portrait. I figured, in this article I would explain the steps I take from start to finish to create these one-of-a-kind oil paintings.
I first start by painting the canvas a solid color using acrylics. It is typically a light yellow ochre color. This process helps cover up the naturally white canvas and provides a color underneath to apply the under painting.
Next, I grid out the canvas, depending on the size of the canvas, it is usually 1 inch squares, or 2 inch squares. This allows me to render your furry family member accurately. I sketch variations of shadow, color, details, etc. I also grid out the photo(s) I am using for reference to ‘transfer’ the image to the canvas. This process is called the Grid Method has been used as far back as ancient Egyptian times. It was also used during the Renaissance.
Once I have sketched out your furry family member onto the canvas, I begin the under painting. The under painting is useful for blocking in shadows and highlights and I create the under painting by mixing various shades of grey from black to white. I think of the under painting as the ‘road map’. This process makes it easier for me when it comes to adding color.
When the under painting is dry, I begin applying the background color. This will take about a day or two to dry.
Lastly, I mix up the colors I need to render your furry family member. Then, I apply layers of color on top of the under painting. Again, the under painting is a useful ‘road map’ in regard to capturing the correct values (light and dark) and if I notice I am off in regard to value, I can correct it while adding color.
Lastly, I add all the minute details - glint in the eye, whiskers, etc. Then I paint the edges of the painting and wire it, so that it is ready to hang when you receive it.
The size of each canvas determines how long the process takes. Below, is a video of a recently completed commissioned double pet portrait painting. The size of the canvas was 18 x 24 in. and required about 18-20 hours to complete from start to finish.
Check it out, the video is 2 minutes. And while you’re at it, subscribe to my YouTube channel.