2019 Pet Portraits

2019 has been a very successful year, both for my traditional pastel pet portraits but also the newly launched Jolly Splashes. When I launch a new range it takes time for it to get acknowledged and orders to role in. So far I have had 5 giant canvases and countless smaller framed ones. It is a style I am still learning and developing, but I can say with confidence it is around to stay!

The first portrait of the year was a gorgeous labradoodle called Ozzy, he is the second portrait for my client. I am always delighted to get repeat customers. I consider it one of my highest compliments.

blacklabradoodle painted in pastels

This year has been a year of firsts for me on the dog portraits front. First up was an Akita portrait. Stunning dogs and King was my first commission of this beautiful Japanese breed.

This was the second of my firsts! An Australian Cattle Dog. I was so excited to get thise commission as it was a gorgeous reference and I absolute adore this breed. Otherwise know as Blue Heelers, meet Bundy and Breaker

Both the firsts of the Akita portrait and Australian cattle dog portraits lead to second portraits of the breeds. First up was a Jolly Splashes giant canvas, Ted the Japanese Akita. You can watch his video here

And then there was Zeva, the gorgeous Australian Cattle Dog who’s owner commissioned me after seeing Bundy and Breakers double dog portrait.



We are nearly at the end of 2018 so there won’t be many on this page, but it will get changed to 2019 Pet Portraits in about 6 weeks. Are we really only 6 weeks away from 2019. It goes too quickly.

Here is a round up of my favourite pet portraits of 2017. I did many, many more than this, but here is a selection of the best.

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2017 Pet Portraits

The idea of this page is to talk about the portraits I have completed, the request my clients have made, how I have accommodated those, frame choices and the reasoning behind any other decisions made in relation to their pet portrait. It will be slightly different to my blog posts as they will contain more information on the painting process and time lapse videos and a day today catch up if anyone wants to know what else goes on in the world of a pet portrait artist!

Harley, Dog Portrait 10×12 inches.

I think this client was one of the first to contact me for Christmas this year. He contacted me about his beautiful dog called Harley. After discussing his requirements he settled on a 10×12 inch portrait, for the background to remain the same as the reference photos and that he would like to combine two photographs to create the portrait. One with his mouth open and another with his ears forward.

This is the finished result. I chose a simple dark wood frame to go with his portrait. It could work in either a contemporary or rustic home. It is a popular frame choice with my clients.


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Harley Framed

Here you can see a close up of the frame chosen for Harley. It is dark wood, not black is it almost looks like it. I love the grain in it as it adds a bit of texture and interest without detracting from the portrait. I have more information on framing and frame choices here and you can view Harley’s full portrait in my dog portrait gallery

Rafiki, Horse Portrait 14×11 inches.

Rafiki is to be a gift to my clients partner. For her portrait I needed to tidy up her mane, remove her rug and my client wanted a background similar to my portrait of Kauto Star. It was decided a 14×11 painting was best for his portrait and I decided to fade her neck out into the background slightly.

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My client was unsure of the frame he wanted to compliment her portrait, although he definitely wanted a dark wood frame. I helped him work through the options and we managed to narrow it down to four choices. In the end I settled on this frame. it compliments the colours in Rafiki and the background and has some nice edging to create some interest. I mount in my usual double off white mount and I am over the moon with the result. I have done an in depth blog on Rafiki. Please feel free to have a read.

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Rafiki, horse portrait framed

Jumping Horse Portrait, Cruz 20×16 inches.

Well this one is a challenge. My client wanted a painting of his friends horse jumping. Initially we had decided to keep the tack on, but as he had gifted this photo on canvas already he felt he needed to make it significantly different. We discussed the options and we are removing the tack and rider and putting poppy fields in the background. 

Here is Cruz’s portrait finished and has had full approval from my client. It has given me so much more confidence in removing full tack from a horse for a portrait as opposed to just a bridle. It is easier if you don’t want them in to remove them, but it can be done!

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You can follow the progress of this horse portrait in my blog

And here is Cruz framed. My client chose a beautiful gold guilt frame. I love this frame and it really looks lovely with Cruz’s portrait. Here he is all framed and I have taken a close up of the frame for you to see. It is moulding number W117 if you would like to order it for your pet portrait.

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Since launching my Facebook page 2 months I have nearly 500 likes. This is a great place to watch work I have in progress and keep up to date with other bits of news. I also regularly run competitions for gift vouchers and even occasionally a free pet portrait. It really is worth going over and liking my page to ensure you don’t miss out on one of the unique opportunities. These finished pet portraits can be found with other finished portraits in my Portfolio

This work in progress is from one lucky competition winner, a beautiful horse called Dylan.

Progress 1

Here is the outline drawing for Dylan’s portrait. As usual the initial drawing goes on rough paper and then gets transferred to pastel paper when I am ready to start with the pastels.


Progress 2

I have decided that pastel pencils are the way forward for this background due the amount of detail. I am laying down the green first and I am then adding the yellow flowers. I have done a bit of smudging with my fingers, but most of it is just blended with the pencils.

Progress 3

A bit more work done on the background and still more to be done yet. I have started work on Dylan to try and make the background ‘gel’ with Dylan and will continue to work on them side by side now. This is so they evolve together otherwise I often find they don’t gel if I completely finish the background and then do my subject.

Horse portrait DylanProgress 4

I have worked some more on Dylan’s mane, starting off with laying down the mid tones and building up the darks and lights to create depth and contrast.

I have also started work on Dylan’s body doing pretty much the same. You can see where I have roughly laid down a mid tone, in the direction his fur lays.

Progress 5

At this point I normally email my client and ask if they have any adjustments they would like making to their pet portrait. If not, then I tuck it away for a few days and when I return to it anything that may not look quite right normally stands out.. In this case I was happy with the portrait and he was packed up ready to go to his client.

Beautiful Stallion

Here, every so often when I get the opportunity I will be doing a detailed work in progress. Hopefully some of you will come and watch a portrait come together. More often than not it will be a personal project as most of my commissions are surprises and so I feel it isn’t wise to have them on website until they have been given to their new owner.

I will try and update as often as possible but it will depend on other commitments I have at the time.

I use Fisher400 artist paper to do all my pastels on and I use a mix of soft pastel sticks and pastel pencils. Hopefully how I use them will become apparent as I progress with the portrait. If you want to read more about pastels please visit my about pastels page

I do the outline drawing on scrap paper so as not to ruin the Fisher paper and then I transfer it by tracing on the back the outline and then rubbing it on to the Fisher paper like a transfer.

The next step is the fun bit – using the pastels – stand by for an update.

This is my current one.

It is a beautiful stallion I was lucky enough to photograph and have been looking to paint. He is set in the original background except I have blurred out a lot of it to make him stand out. I am still unsure about the background though and may change it as I start work.

I have also completed the outline drawing. I wasn’t to concerned with the background as I may be changing it.




Stage 1

I have transferred the outline of the stallion to the Fisher400 paper, which I use for all my pastel portraits.

I scan my drawing into the computer then flip it so it’s a mirror image of the drawing. I print it out and then trace the outline with a pastel pencil, then transfer it to the fisher paper by placing it face down, fastening with masking tape and rubbing over the back like you would any transfer.

The first image shows the transferred drawing and the soft pastels I will use for the background in this painting. The soft pastel sticks are Schmincke pastels and I use these for all my blended colour backgrounds such a Scuzz, and Charlie. I use pastel pencils for the detailed work on the animals and any detailed backgrounds such as Finn on my homepage.

I have latex glove to blend and smooth the soft pastel. The brush is a stiff bristle oil painting brush that I use to remove any pastel that may go over the outline of the horse as pastel pencil doesn’t go over the soft pastel very well, so I find it helps to remove it.

Stage 2

I put the pastels on the paper, for this I have used various ochre’s and greys and blue for the sky. When I have put the colours where I want I start blending using the latex glove.

As I blend I may add more colour if either if I want to change the colour slightly or there isn’t enough pastel to blend. I would advise not putting too much pastel down and adding more if needed rather than putting too much on and having to remove it.

Stage 3

This shows the background after it has been blended. I am fairly happy with this for the moment, but I may change it as the painting progresses.

I will normally move onto the foreground. For the most part I will use my pastel pencils for this. I would hope to have another update within the next few weeks, depending on how I get on with my commissioned pet portraits.

Stage 4

In the stage 4 image, I have roughly laid down the pastel in horizontal lines in ochres and greys to match the dusty background. I have then used a latex glove to smooth and blend it together (You can see the result of this in image 5). I add more colour where I think it needs it. I am sorry it’s a bit vague as I am making up this background as I go!

Stage 5

In this next photograph, you can see how I have blended the pastel together and I have now proceeded to add some more details. I have used a dark sepia and just made little stone like shapes and then gently smoothed them down with my finger. I only do this gently because I don’t want to smudge them too much and loose definition. If that happens pastel is very forgiving and it could be redone. This is why I love this medium so much. I have also done some lighter marks too. I have added some grey and burnt carmine. Burnt carmine is a favourite of mine by Derwent, It’s a purplish colour, but it works well in shadows and reflections.

I am now trying to add the dust kicked up by his hooves. I am currently using a pastel pencil for this, but may well turn to the soft pastel sticks, I am not sure yet.

Stage 6

I have the small update as promised. I have started blocking in the colours of the stallion with pastel pencils. No soft pastels are used for this process. I will continue to do this until I have the basic details down and then I will refine and add the finishing details after.

I occasionally smooth down the pastel with my fingers, but tend to try and avoid it too much as it can muddy the colours. I try to do most of my blending with the pastels themselves.

Stage 7

I have continued blocking the basic colours and the refined detail will go on last. I am adding some ochres to the stallion as well to show some reflection of the sandy ground. It is now really beginning to take shape.


Stage 8

I have continued with his body trying to create some depth to highlight his muscles and create a sense of strenght and power. I am still avoiding any really fine detail for the moment. I have at points gently smoothed over parts with my finger to soften up areas where it needed it. I do try to avoid doing to much of that though as it can muddy the pastels.

Stage 9

This is the penultimate stage now. I feel he is virtually finished, but I shall leave it now for 24, hours maybe a bit longer before I return too add the finishing touches. This way it normally makes anything that is not quite right jump out at me as I am looking at it with fresh eyes.

I have worked on his mane and tail and added some veins on his body. I didn’t put as many as there are on the photograph as I don’t think it was necessary I just wanted to suggest some.

His mane overlapped some of the soft pastel I used for the background. Pastel pencils will not go over this very well so this is where the paint brush comes in! I use it to gently remove some of the pastel, but not all of it. I shake the loose pastel off outside (don’t blow as its not to breathe in pastel dust!) I then blend it over again so it matches the rest of the

background, but there is now less pastel there and therefore easier to draw over with the pastel pencil.

I have also darkened up some of the darks and lightened up some of the lights and we are nearly finished!

With a few final tweaks we have the finished portrait titled ‘Wild At Heart’, which was given to him by Lucy aron Wilde. Hope you like it and thanks for reading.

Work in Progress

Here I will be showing the progress of one of the current pet portraits on my easel. I am always happy to answer questions about my techniques and the mediums I use to create my pet portraits. If you have any questions please contact me.

In between my pet portraits I always like to have a personal painting that I am working on. These will all be available for purchase when completed, and possibly limited edition prints released.

Photo to Portrait

I have decided here to show you in a basic format the steps involved in the creation of your pet portrait. I thought it maybe of interest to people who are considering a portrait and wanted to see how the process works and all the stages involved.

Splash horse portrait-1Step 1

This is the clients photograph. As you can see the photograph is in focus and fills the frame and the lighting is good, and most importantly no flash.




Splash Horse portrait-2Step 2

This is the mock up. In this instance my client wanted a plainish background for their horse portrait.




Splash horse portrait 3Step 3

I send an outline drawing to the client for them to approve, and once that has been done I can start their portrait.




Splash, pastel horse portraitStep 4 – Finished Portrait

The finished portrait! A photograph of the portrait is emailed to my client and it is then packed up ready for shipment to its new owners. Some of my clients like to see a couple of progress photographs and others prefer to wait until the portrait is finished. Just let me know and I am happy to do either.



Tips for taking your own photographs for your pet portrait

To ensure I can achieve the best results for your pet portrait it is important that I can work from clear images which show the unique details of your particular pet such as the fur, eyes, markings etc. If possible it is always best to send three or four images pointing out which one is most true to their colour. If you wish to send me some new photographs and you are not experienced in capturing pets here are a few tips I hope you will find helpful:

Photographs taken outside without flash or by a large window are the best to avoid red eye.

Try to avoid a really sunny day as the sun will cast dark shadows on your pet and the photograph won’t reflect their true coat colour. Likewise avoid a really dull overcast day.

Ideally, take your photographs with your back to the sun.

Take your pets photograph at their level rather than looking down to avoid and distortion or an unnatural pose and make sure they are facing the camera if you want a head/head and shoulders pet portrait.

Try to get as close to your pet as possible whilst staying in focus as this will give the maximum amount of detail and make painting the portrait easier.

Good photographs are essential as I can only paint what I see!