How to commission a dog portrait?

Duelly

“Dually”

2007
11×11
oil on canvas
Commissioned

I have spent the last 15 years mainly painting horse portraits. From time to time I would get asked if I could paint them with their horse. Now I do offer any type of portrait, horses, people, dogs, … I even had a racing pigeon!

Today, let’s talk about our what you need to do if you want a portrait of your dog. Each artist will be slightly different, but I will talk about several of the normal options.

First you will need to decide what you want. Do you want a head study or full body? Do you want one dog or the whole gang? Do you want something highly realistic or more loose and abstract. How big or small do you want the original to be? These are some things you will need to consider before you call an artist. If you have no idea, stop by some artist studios to see what you like, what you don’t like, and take notes. Sometime if you know what you like, many artists can refer you to a friend that may more fit your needs.

Second, once you know what you want and you found the artist. Some artist will have you submit a favorite photo for them to copy. Others will ask to see the dog live and take their own photos. If you do have a photo on hand that you would like to use, make sure if it is not copyrighted. (If you got the photo from a professional photographer you will need a copyright release form from them before any work can begin! – I always ask, if you have a professional photo already why would you want that same image in a portrait???? – just a thought.)

When using photos alone I find that you have captured a split moment in time in a photo and it is hard to read a personality from that alone. Most of the time you can not get all the details and colors in a photo either. So I typically like to meet the dog, play with and get to know the personality of the dog. I study their unique colors in their coats, then I will take some photos to work from too. Sometime I will also take a small canvas to make a quick color study of the dog too to help me remember the colors I see.

Then I go back to my studio to begin. If it is a larger portrait I will then do a drawing in charcoal to work out any drawing and composition issues. Once the client has approved the drawing then I start on the painting. When the painting is almost finished I meet with the client and the dog again to make sure I have captured the color and drawing correct. At this point I make any changes needed.

Most artists who are professional in their field will also offer 100% satisfaction guarantee on their work, that if something is “just not right” they will fix it. Some artist will make a limited time frame to adjust these issues. On average 90 days from the time you take the portrait home. I give one year to make changes. The reason is, if it is an oil, I will need to wait 1 year before I apply the final coat of varnish on the painting for protection.

Third, How much does a portrait cost? That will vary from artist to artist. Skill level, medium used, how long it takes to create the portrait, popularity, and how booked out they are will all play its part. The most important is to first find which artist that meets the quality you want. Each will vary in their style. The range could be anywhere from $200 for a pencil portrait to $20,000+ for a life-size portrait with elaborate backgrounds.

My pet portraits (non-horses) – start at $1500 for oil. 

I hope this will help with some basic questions of how to have your dog or pets portrait painted. Do feel free to ask if there are any other questions.

Thank you for stopping by!

www.NanciFulmek.com

Nanci

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3 Responses to “How to commission a dog portrait?”

  1. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Stacey Derbinshire

  2. Nanci,
    Just checked out your website – your paintings are gorgeous – I am in love with the foal who discovered his own shadow!!

    When you get time, please e-mail me regarding some photos you have from last summer.

    I truly admire your talent with not only the camera, but with the paintbrush! You have a very soulful eye!

  3. Nanci,

    Nice article, I think you have hit on a few really good tips. I think most non-artists don’t really know where to start when hiring or commission an artist for work. Keep up the good work. Also, I like your work you have some nice paintings.

    Nikky Hughes
    Pet Portrait Artist

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