Some Pet Portrait Favourites

Sometimes it is fun to go through some old work and see maybe how you have improved, if your style has changed and so on. I am also going to tell you in a bit more detail how Sarah’s Pet Portraits came about.

I guess many people don’t know I originally started pet portraits using watercolours with a painting of our old dog Charlie. I haven’t got a copy of the original portrait to hand, but I will see if I can find it. From there a few friends asked for portraits too. I was working full time and hadn’t really painted anything since leaving college in 1997/8. I didn’t really get on with my course and became very disheartened with my art so pretty much dropped it. This reignited my interest.

After this I decided to offer pet portraits for people alongside my full time job. Most of my work came from word of mouth, but it was a nice bit of pocket money along side my pay cheque.

After I had to leave work, long story and won’t bore you. I was very ill with anxiety due to my treatment at my last place of employment and I had to be signed off I decided to try and explore Sarah’s Pet Portraits more seriously. I had a bonus payment which I invested in getting a website built and invested in more materials and started promoting more seriously. I picked up work here and there, but it wasn’t consistent and unfortunately my limited savings didn’t last long and was beginning to think I would have to return to full time employment when I fell pregnant with my daughter.

I had a few more enquiries while pregnant as my website had moved up a little through the Google rankings and the word of mouth commissions were still trickling in. By then my medium of choice had moved from watercolours to acrylics.

Here are some of portraits in acrylics. I only seem to have copies of horse portraits in acrylic.

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My husband had bought me a book for my birthday just before or after my daughter was born by Lesley Harrison and painting animals in pastel. I fell in love with the softness and what she could achieve with them, but it was still a little while before I managed to try them. She used a paper called velour and it was hard to get in the UK and all the other paper I found frustrating to use, so I didn’t really take it much further.

That was until I found Fisher4oo, a sanded paper made int he UK, I didn’t really look back then. It is very different from velour but it took many layers and was really just a fantastic surface to use.

My adventure into pastel pet portraits started with Scuzz. A friend of mine, online friend that is. A beautiful wirehaired weimaraner. I wanted to properly trial my pastels on an unpaid commission. I was hooked. Fell in love with them. I have never looked back really. Scuzz still features on my website to this day. Perhaps through a bit of nostalgia, and also because I still think it is one of strongest pieces. 

I was now confident to offer pet portraits in pastel. The commissions came in steadily and I continued to learn alot about the medium. I owe a lot to a fabulous artist Mary Herbert who gave me an awful lot of support and advice in the medium online in a forum I used to use called Artpapa. I wonder if it is still running…..

I felt I needed to test myself a bit further and try my hand at backgrounds for my pet portraits. By that I mean a landscape background. Along came Finn. Again he is a stand out piece of mine. He has sadly recently crossed the rainbow bridge, but I love this guy and everything his portrait taught me. He has also earnt me a lot of springer spaniel commissions. I have also been referred to a the spaniel artist. I like that title!

Really from Finn, onward pastels have been my preferred medium for the pet portraits. It has proven popular with clients and I love the immediacy of the medium. No varnishing like oils, no dry time involved, just perfect.

I have dabbled again in acrylics a couple of times but have never really returned to them for pet paintings. I will use them again, I have some ideas rumbling around my head, but it will be for something completely different. When I have time. Time is always an issue!

I do use watercolours and I have offered pen and watercolour paintings. They are popular too as they are a different price bracket. I have also branched out to offer them in the bright rainbow style too. I hope to push this a bit more in the New Year as they are a lot of fun and I just love using bright colours and the random medium that is watercolour.