Sierra, Portrait of a German Shepherd
16 x 20 oil on canvas
©Carole Rodrigue 2017
Hey everyone, meet Sierra the German Shepherd. She was a beauty and her owner really misses her, so her portrait was commissioned. I cannot express how much I enjoyed painting this. Though she is gone, I hope this painting will bring some joy and fond memories.
Why did I enjoy painting this so much? The lighting.
For me, the best paintings aren't always about detail, but rather, lighting and mood. The best pet portraits are those with references with natural outdoor lighting. I cannot stress enough how indoor photos with the flash having been used are not good references. You can have a painting where all the details are there, every hair painted, but then it's boring because there's nothing special about the light.
When painting a pet portrait, it's crucial to get things right. Indoor photos with the flash are poor references. You can't see the eyes and you have to guess. Details are missing, disguised by the flash, other areas overly enhanced. When considering a pet portrait, always try to get soft outdoor lighting whenever possible. I understand that's not always possible, especially when a pet is gone.
Sometimes something good can come out of a bad shot, as in this painting.
The reference for this painting was a tiny paper photo and the dog was only in about 1/3 of the photo. Picture that picture. That was a tiny dog to look at. (The reference above is cropped to protect the child's privacy. The dog only filled a portion of the whole photo.) So, I scanned it at the highest resolution before agreeing to paint it. Because I was able to see the eye and good shapes, I agreed to paint it and created one of the portraits I'm most proud of. Seeing the eyes is so important. I have painted several with the flash being used and guessing what the eyes looked like, but I think I was lucky to be successful. It makes things that much harder.
Natural light folks, natural light.
Now I'm starting another German Shepherd painting and I can't wait to show you! It'll have dramatic lighting this time and I'll talk about that when I get to post it.
Thanks for visiting! If you want your pet portrait commissioned, be sure to visit my website at http://www.carolerodrigue.com for info. Use the Contact form if you have questions.