As far as I’m concerned variety is the spice of life, so after spending almost two months working on painting and framing erotic art IÂ am more than happy to switch my attentions to a totally different subject matter – of the four legged variety. Normally if I’m doing animal portraits I’d rather take the photos myself as I know what poses I want (taken from the animals eye level as much as possible rather than from standing human adult height which means you’re looking down on top of the animals head) and also getting the lighting right (natural daylight if possible so that the colours are natural and not bleached out by a camera flash) with the eyes looking intelligent with the right lighting (not red-eye with camera flash) and not taken too closely (otherwise the whole picture is out of focus so you can’t see details in the coat, face, eyes). All those are the reasons I like to take my own photos to work from.
But I can’t do that with this commission, for a very good reason. Sadly all ofÂ the animals are dead.
And like the owner said to me “You never think about taking the right sort of photos when you have the animals, you just take snaps when they’re out in the garden, or in the house, not thinking that you’ll need them at a later date, after they’ve died”. I agreed with her, it’s always the case with pet owners. And it’s after the animal is no longer with us that we miss them most and wish we’d taken more photos because we’d like a painting done to remind us of our beloved pets.
Which is where my job comes in.
The clientÂ was well organised when I went to her house yesterday and had sorted out the best of the photos of each animal. But they still weren’t of the quality I would have ideally wanted to work from. I will have to do the best I can with them though. But that isn’t my main problem with the painting she has commissioned me to paint for her. I am happy and confident that I willÂ be able to make a decent attempt of the animals putting them in one watercolour painting, and that they will look as close as I can get them to look like the animals as I can see them. But, its not my opinion that matters. Because the client knows all those beloved animals intimately as she has loved them and cared for them and lived with them for many years on a daily basis.
I have to get the essence of the animal even though I haven’t seen the animal in real life. I have to capture that and put it in the painting. And I have to do it five times.
But, as well as that the main problem is the size of each animal. One is a German Shepherd, so that’s ok, I know its a large dog. One is a collie, ok that is a smaller dog to the German Shepherd, but there is another dog too which is a lot smaller, and two cats. But one cat is leggier than the other, and some cats are smallish and some are bigger and plumper.
But most importantlyI haven’t got all the animals together inÂ ONE photo, to work from.
I have a selection ofÂ aboutÂ twenty photos, some of which feature two or three of the animals,Â butÂ a variation each time, but usallyÂ taken from a distance of quite a few feet away. So I don’t know how the size of each animal relates to the size of the other animals.
That means that my thought process is going to be something along the lines of those lateral thinking quizzes working out what is known to find out what is unknown knownÂ …….. “In this photo The German Shepherd is six times bigger than the white cat which is in the foreground, but one and a half times bigger than the collie which is two feet behind it, which seems to be four times bigger than the black cat in this photo but the cat’s lying down, but that is only a third the size of the terrier as they’re lying together by the fireÂ which is a third the size of the German Shepherd when its lying down, but it has shorter legs than the other dog so does that mean in this photo I should add a couple more inches or does the fore-shortening of the angle the photo was taken at give me a false message and I’ll disregard it? MMMMmmm….
I don’t want the white cat looking like its on steroids and asÂ big as the collie…. or that the German Shepherd must be a special kind of minature one (!!) “
And that’s before I’ve grouped them all together in one painting. Putting them all together in a way they were never together in real life. BUT, making it look natural!
Gooooooooood job I like a challenge! 🙂