Sarah’s Pet Portraits on Channel 4

– Easter 2016

It is funny how it goes. I suddenly seem to get a lot of particular breeds in at once. At the moment I have 3 fox red labradors, 4 German Shepherds, 4 Poodles and about 5 horses. I am currently busier than I was at Christmas for pet portraits and I have exhibitions to prepare for. This of course clashes with Easter Holidays when my children are off and demand my attention. I fear I will burning the midnight oil on many occasion.

Read how I juggle bringing up two children and work on my pet portraits and also see how they come together in my work in progress section.

I will also be doing an in detail case study over the next few months which I hope will interest you and even may give you some hints and tips if you are wanting to give pastels ago yourself.

Choosing a pet portrait artist

– 17th January 2011

Choosing a pet portrait artist isn’t easy. Not only is there the initial cost to consider, but there is the type of painting to go for and the decision on how your pet should look. This article is aimed at demystifying the experience so you can be confident in choosing the right artist for you.

There are also a multitude of pet portrait artists out there all plying their trade on the internet. They offer a range of services from oil, acrylic and water colour to graphite and pastel mediums. Some will frame your portrait for delivery and others will leave it to you. However, the first and most important decision is to find a pet portrait artist whose style you most like, whether it’s their water colour or pastel work or their individual technique.

You’ll know instinctively who can reproduce the best likeness of your pet but – and this is the second most important point – most artists work from supplied photographs, so make sure that you have quality photos of your pet to send. Your favourite snap of Fido might not be suitable for your chosen artist to work from. It may be too blurred or simply not do him the justice your artist wants to bring out in their work. If you don’t have a really good picture, think about obtaining some fresh ones. Your chosen artist can always advise you.

As a general rule, try and get three or four images pointing out which one is most true to your pet’s colour. Try to avoid a really sunny day when the pictures are taken as the sun will cast dark shadows on your pet and will distort the colours. Likewise avoid a really dull overcast day. Ideally, take your photographs with your back to the sun and at their level rather than looking down to avoid any distortion or an unnatural pose. Make sure they are facing the camera if you want a head or head and shoulders pet portrait and try to get as close to your pet as possible whilst staying in focus.

At this point you will also want to start thinking about the size of your portrait and of course this is where price really comes in. Other factors need to be addressed here too, like if you want more than one pet in the portrait, do you want a plain or themed background, or do you want it framed?

Taking size first, apart from your budget, considering where your pet portrait will hang is really important; you don’t want a large picture dominating a small room. On the other hand, you need to choose a size that best portrays your pet. Ideally you wouldn’t really want the subject in the portrait to cover less than the area of an A4 sheet of paper and if you want more than one pet captured think bigger definitely.

The background you choose is a matter of personal choice, but an important decision nevertheless. It is a big cost factor too. Some plain but complimentary backgrounds can be very effective and a good artist should create a three dimensional portrait of any animal. But a flat background is only two dimensional and well, flat! My personal opinion is that there’s nothing like a natural setting behind any pet portrait and, whilst more expensive, it will really bring the portrait to life.

Framing is a difficult one. Different artists will charge different prices. My best advice is to get a quote from your chosen artist and then your local picture framer. Also take into account that delivery charges will be cheaper for an unframed portrait. Obviously, if you find a huge difference in cost the decision is made for you, but ultimately, if there’s not much in it price wise, there’s nothing like unwrapping a beautiful framed picture delivered to your door.

My best advice to anyone looking for a pet portrait is to do your research. There’s not much point in getting competitive quotes from different artists. Whilst commissioning artwork should be like any other purchase, as I pointed out earlier, you will quickly decide who you want to do business with. If that is the case then make sure you discuss all the points I raise above to ensure you get the perfect pet portrait.

Painting & Parenting

– 24th November 2010

alancing the desire for a family and run a successful small business has never been easy. Enquiries for my work started to increase after I launched this website in 2005 as people sought that unique Christmas and birthday present. Then in October 2006 Nicola came along forcing me to take a break.

Shortly after her birth, in February 2007, my partner went into hospital to have a hip replacement involving a long period of post-surgery convalescence. In effect, for a while, I had two children to care for but we got over this and I soon got back behind the easel. Admittedly it wasn’t easy with a baby which then started crawling everywhere before taking to her feet but the commissions kept coming in and the desire to paint again was overwhelming. However, with the help of parents, in laws and friends I managed to get going again. I would particularly concentrate on getting a few hours done in the evening in the days Nicola used to go to bed early! As she got older and started pre-school I’d make the most of the precious few hours in the morning when she was otherwise entertained.

As with most commercial artists the pinch points are Christmases and for me the last three have been exceptionally busy. However in the summer of 2009 I became pregnant again so the rush was on to complete Christmas 2009 orders and other non time specific requests. Leo was born in March this year. However, two months before his birth my partner’s new hip of 2007 literally fell apart requiring surgery once more. As Leo was born he was in hospital then once again stuck at home recovering. We had decided that I would take a longer time to enjoy my new son.

Now, as Autumn approaches and the enquiries begin, I have taken on a selection of commissions so as not to disappoint because of the constraints on my time, focusing on impending festive commissions. It’s a real juggling act with a demanding baby and a four year old with more energy than I can keep up with and more questions than I have answers for!

Again family and friends have come to the rescue. As soon as Nicola is out at school, out with her dad, or in bed, and assuming young Leo is snoozing I am back at the easel. Whether it’s grabbing five minutes or half an hour I take every opportunity to paint.