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  • Writer's pictureDonna Jeanne Koepp

Anatomy of a Pet Portrait

Over the years, I've developed a process that works for creating pet portraits that look like the pets I want to paint. Yes, I can paint a dog, but can I paint "your" dog? Here's an outline of my method (which will always evolve as I learn).


I select the best photo of the subject and and grid it to the size of paper I will use.


I carefully draw what I see in each square. This ensures that the proportions are correct. I used to think this was cheating somehow, but not anymore.


I collaborate with the client on a fun and creative background. Solid background or elements that have significant meaning.


I start with the background. I don't have to start with the background, I just feel more confident if the background is progressing well before I start the subject. (I've messed up a few backgrounds and I want to make sure they fit)


I proceed with the eyes of the subject and continue to the face, ears and body. I think the eyes are the most important feature of the pet's fac


I communicate every stage of painting with the client so they have input to the process. I always include a mat board in a cellophane sleeve. Framing may or may not be included, depending on the individual.


Painting pet portraits is fun and rewarding.

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