I love painting Pet Portraits. They're different than painting Home Portraits, as there's a deeper emotion present when capturing something that was living. It's the eyes, or maybe the depth and colouration of the fur. The whiskers. The stance, or the tilt of a head. There's personality there.
I say “was living" because almost all of my Pet Portraits are of pets that have passed, and I've been contacted by a family member who wants to comfort their loved ones who are grieving. They think to gift a Pet Portrait; a forever keepsake, perpetuating the memory of the beloved pet. Kotti. Trudy. Gizmo. Maki. Venture. These are pet portraits I've been honoured to work on for this type of situation. And now there's Caesar.
Caesar was a beautiful dog, was he not? There was just a hint of sadness in the photo supplied, which carried over into the painting. It doesn't feel inappropriate though, given the very real sadness present for his family feeling his absence. I received an email from Isabella in November, wondering if I had time to complete a pet portrait in time for the holidays. Isabella and her husband, Zach, wanted to gift a pet portrait of Caesar to his parents on Christmas Day. Caesar had passed the previous year, and they were still struggling with the loss.
We landed on a 6x8" commission and they supplied several reference photos. We settled on one with perfect clarity of Caesar's face, with him looking right at the camera, and with that sweet little tilt of the head. He seems like a good friend. Like he would win a “Best Listener" award. I don't have a pet myself, but I get it. Pets—especially one by the looks of Caeser—provide such a warm and steady companionship. It's amazing really when you think of it, how very real and deep an attachment can form with something that doesn't use words. It just goes to show that words are just a small aspect of communication, and connection can be built on a form of communication that runs much deeper.
As I began to plan the painting, I realized that where I wanted to crop the photo—nice and close up on his face—would require different proportions; the painting was much more suited to a square. I contacted Isabella, recommending we change to an 8x8" at no extra cost. “Sounds great about the sizing - you are the expert," she said. Thanks for the trust!
I finished Caesar in time for the holidays and he was gifted, as planned, on Christmas Day. “Thank you so much for the amazing painting of Caesar. I was blown away by the detail. Zach’s parents’ reactions were priceless - instant tears and they said it was the most thoughtful gift they’ve ever received."
I could not have asked for a better response. What an honour to be part of such a meaningful gift.