Pet Portraits: How to find the right artist for you?
PUBLISHED: 10:10 19 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:17 19 April 2016
What better way to capture the unique character of our beloved pets than by commissioning a portrait of them, says Rachel Buller
THERE IS a growing number of professional artists who specialise in creating beautiful pieces of work depicting a much-loved pet, but how do you go about finding the right person and what does it involve?
Norfolk-born artist Chris Wright is a professional wildlife artist and, as well as focusing on animals in the wild, he also takes commissions from dog owners.
“People like the romantic idea that someone who creates pet portraits spends hours getting to know their dog, but actually, that isn’t the case. While some artists might like to meet the pet, it isn’t always necessary. Now such is the advance of technology, people can take excellent photographs of their pets and use them to create the piece of work,” he says. “Occasionally you might meet the dog to get your own photographs to work from, but in my experience, if the owner finds it difficult to get the dog to sit still, getting a stranger round to do it when the dog is even more over-excited, is likely to be even harder.”
He says the most important thing to do is provide an artist with a good selection of images which you believe best illustrate not only how your dog looks, but its personality.
“It is important to provide a good range of photographs. Make sure you include some images which contain a clear close-up of the dog’s face. It might sound obvious, but some people will send lots of their dogs in the sea or running around. These give a glimpse into their characters but not a clear image of what they actually look like, their eyes, their expression.”
Chris, who combines his work with his job as a primary school teacher, spent six years working in conservation and education for the Born Free Foundation and while travelling with the charity all over the world he was able to hone his skills as an artist, studying different species.
“I lived in Holt for most of my childhood and returned to the county while I was studying conservation. It was then that I really felt inspired to pursue my art more and I held several wildlife-inspired exhibitions. Most of my work was of wild animals, but people began asking if I would do portraits of their dogs and it went from there.”
Chris says that anyone interested in commissioning an artist should do their research first.
“You don’t have to go too far to find a dog owner who has had a drawing or a painting done of the pet, so ask around and get recommendations. But also consider the style of art you want – a drawing or an oil painting, something classic or more contemporary. Another good place to ask advice is at any dog or country show or from any breed organisations, as there might be artists who specialise in that type of dog.
“Handing over a finished commission to a client is one of the most nerve-racking things to do because as a dog lover I know how important that pet will be to them, so it is essential I have everything I need to make sure it is absolutely perfect.”