Behind the Easel

  • Events 2022

    Events 2022
    I would love to meet you and show you some of my artwork in person!  Check out my events for 2022 and plan a visit! 
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  • What is a "quality" reference photo anyways?

    What is a "quality" reference photo anyways?


    Commissioned pet portraits are a wonderful way to showcase the fur-loves in your life! Oil paintings of pets can be a proud way to display the love and adoration that they have shown us in our lives with them! So, how do you get one of these?

    It is all in the reference photo. 

    Choosing the Photo

    "Quality" reference photos should have bright, indirect, lighting that is preferably natural (from the sky). Make sure it isn't TOO bright/direct which will cause the pet to appear washed out. It is important that the lighting is bright enough to see clear details of the face, especially the eyes for dogs and cats! We all know THAT is where their love lies, in those sweet eyes! The photo should have the pet fairly close to the camera in the photo. If they are too far (try zooming in, can you see the colors of their eyes?) then all of those details that make Rufus YOUR yellow lab and not A yellow lab will be lost and not translated into the painting. Which it something that neither of us want! 

    Another thing to consider is, is the pet looking AT the camera? If the pet's eyes are pointing in another direction, consider if that is how you want their painting.  It can make for a fun and more expression-full painting; however, it isn't what everyone has envisioned for their pet's Regal Portrait. 

    Okay, so far we have discussed a "quality" reference photo, now what is my "ideal" reference photo? 

    For starters, take all of the above and throw in a lot of PERSONALITY! Especially with dogs, I love to see smiles (tongues out), head cocked to the side, and drool! Cats are all about that MOOD. The better the lighting on those big beautiful eyes, the better the photo! 

    Finding the "perfect" photo can be challenging, I know. Especially if you have said Good-Bye to your sweet fur-baby and only have limited photos to work with.  If you are unsure if your photographs will work, email them! I am happy to look at them and talk about it with you.  If I don't think it will translate well into a painting, I will tell you! 


    Here are a few examples of not ideal reference photo vs quality reference photo:

    I have cropped out the pet's family in the first two for their privacy, so the pet is now "zoomed in" and we still can't differentiate a lot of detail. Also, I don't personally know this pet but it doesn't look super happy or excited in either of the first two photos.  Maybe it's the Chihuahua though ;) 

    The photo on the bottom is PERFECT! I have a happy "smiling" dog in GREAT light. This is also the photo "as is", can you see how she is front and center for the camera?  

    Below is the completed painting on an 8x8 birch wood panel. The customer requested the name plate to be fixed on the front. 


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