Commission a portrait of your reptile, amphibian, or another animal
If you have a pet that you adore, and perhaps a bit of a silly side, then an Old World Pet Portrait might be just the thing for you! For many, a commissioned portrait has been a fun way to indulge their love for a pet, add a bit of “formal whimsy” to their decor, or give a delightful gift to an animal lover.
For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of working on commissions is the chance to brainstorm with pet owners about themes, costume ideas, favorite toys, and symbols that best capture the unique qualities of their pet. Life never gets too serious when my workday includes conversations like, “I think we should put a pearl necklace on Mindy (the Boston Terrier)” and “What do you think about a pink dress with puffy sleeves?”
Anyone interested in exploring the idea of commissioning a portrait should start a conversation with me before ordering. But to help you get a better idea of the process, here's how it works.
The Process of Creating Your Custom Pet Portrait
1. Photographs First, I’ll need some good images of your pet. Photos should be taken from the eye level of the animal, not looking down on them from above. A good sign that you've got the right angle is when you can see their chin. Head-on or turned just slightly are the best angles. Imagine you're taking a school photo! High-resolution images taken in good light will help me see all the details I will need to create a great portrait. Images can be sent via jpeg format.
2. Historical Reference Next, we will work together to select a historical portrait that works just right with your pet and your classical style. Some of the images you see on this page may help guide you in a stylistic direction. I also have lots of historical paintings I've gathered; once I know a general idea of what you're looking for, I can send you links to more images to choose from. You'll have a big say in what your pet will wear in the portrait, but I will add my input so the end result is a fabulous portrait.... Now that I've been doing this for a while, I think I can say I'm a bit of an expert at painting elegantly dressed critters!
3. Sketch After we have pet photos, a historical reference painting, and size selected, it'll be time for me to create a pencil sketch. This is also time for you to officially order and pay for the painting. After payment, I'll send you an image of the sketch for approval. The sketch phase is a time when adjustments can be made without much difficulty... though we will be sticking to the photo and historical painting already selected.
4. Painting Once the sketch is approved, it'll be time to confirm colors. It's not difficult to change the colors and values of the original painting, and sometimes, it's a good idea to do that to make sure the animal is a prominent feature in the painting. Once these decisions are made, I'll start the painting. When the painting is complete, I will send another image to make sure that I’ve captured your pet’s likeness accurately. At this point, small adjustments can still be made if any fine-tuning is necessary. After approval, the painting will need to dry for two weeks. Then I'll put several coats of varnish on it. When that dries, it'll be ready to send to you.
Can I have more than one animal in a portrait?
Single portraits are more classic, so I prefer them, but we can talk about it. I charge an extra $250 for an extra figure in a portrait.
Can you paint my animal in any style?
My specialty is portraits painted in classic historic style. Some people have ideas about portraits that aren't quite what I do, or that I can't envision well enough to do the idea justice. It's for this reason that I like to make sure my clients and I are on the same page about the portrait concept before I accept payment. I like to think that there's no harm done if either party decides it's not quite working out prior to the sketch phase.
How long does the process take?
From the time the painting is actually ordered and the time it is received can be expected to be between 4 and 7 weeks. Why longer sometimes? If we have to make adjustments to the sketch or painting, that can add time. Weather and some paint colors can extend paint-drying time. If I'm working on other commissioned portraits, some will need to wait. And if you live farther away, it takes a little longer for shipping. If you have a deadline, ask about it and I'll see if I can meet it.
Sometimes, a customer wants to give a painting as a gift, and the timeline is too short. There are options! We can start the process, and a promise of the painting can be gift wrapped along with an image of the sketch or painting (that is in the process of drying in my studio). A gift certificate is another option; Then the pet owner will get to participate in the creative process themselves.
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All images copyright © Carol Lew