First, you need to decide on the style of art you’d like. Do you have in mind an Old Master-inspired oil painting, requiring countless sittings, all the better to capture the dewy shine of those devoted eyes? Or would you rather something sketchy and loose to convey the spirit of the breed that you love so very much? If you don’t want to be seen taking puppy love quite so seriously, you might opt for a humorous cartoon or alternatively, take Fido to a whole different level with something more sophisticated - an abstract, perhaps.
Once you’ve commissioned the artist whose work you want to live with, then you will have to settle down and endure The Wait. Whether you’ve had to provide photographic references of your portrait star, or taken your dog to the artist’s studio, in this world of camera-phones and short attention spans, it can come as quite a shock to have to wait for something to be made from scratch.
The Wait is often combined with The Worry. What if the portrait arrives and the artist has not captured the very essence of your beloved? Whether it’s a line drawing or a work in oil, a portrait must convey character. Somehow, because we owners are used to minutely observing our four-legged friends who cannot communicate via speech, the exact angle of that raised brow and the precise tilt of head becomes all the more important to get right.
Given all of the above, the idea of commissioning a dog portrait might seem downright difficult. This is where artist Caroline Towning comes in. She grew up in Yorkshire, drawing horses, but her new line of dog portraits - oils painted on sweet vintage glass frames – has recently been causing a stir.
With only two photographs for reference, Caroline captured Teddy’s bearded and browed glory, but more importantly she got his ‘on guard’ expression spot on. It’s this fine eye for detail that is key to winning over any dog-lover. It is also the reason that one of these portraits would make a clever present. Once you’ve sent Caroline a decent photo of the pup in question, you can rest assured that The Wait will only be a week or so and that The Worry will be swiftly allayed once that beautifully packaged portrait arrives. Dog-lover’s Christmas gift? Consider the box well and truly ticked.
By Samantha Murray Greenway
Nix The Worry | Commissioning a Dog Portrait | Guest blog by Samantha Murray Greenway