Pet portraits…

Your Labrador’s Likeness in Lead? Monochrome Mastiff ‘Mug-sketches’? Pooches in Pencil?

Well, having failed utterly to light upon an appropriately witty or memorably original alliterative title for this latest addition to illustratedbyamanda, I have admitted defeat and gone for the Ronseal approach:

     PET PORTRAITURE in PENCIL    

I am delighted to announce the launch of my new pet portraiture service, inspired by recent (and burgeoning) interest from family and friends to see their favourite furry companions rendered in pencil.

'Ginny', a rather coquettish Norfolk Terrier (e.g. of a small dog 'head & shoulders' portrait)

Portraits make for thoughtful and unique gifts, and can be commissioned to accommodate a range of wall spaces and budgets.

Ordinarily, I work from photographs (so no need to try and coax your excitable springer spaniel, for example, into motionless obedience for a multiple-hour ‘sitting’…) and would ask that, if you are considering commissioning a portrait, you provide a selection of, ideally, about five clear images – although two really crisp, close-up photos that capture your pet’s personality and profile can sometimes work just as well as, if not better than, seven or eight less distinct ‘action’ shots. You can send photos by post (I’d recommend Recorded [signed for] or Special Delivery in this case), as high resolution digital files by email (although these may need to be sent one or two at a time, as they are usually rather large files), or as digital images on a CD. I promise to take good care of all photos submitted, and to return them with the portrait on completion.

A very contented, silvery cat, with just a suggestion of colour in the fur around her neck and belly to reflect a tinge of 'caramel' here.

A note, or two, on photographing your petAs I don’t often get an opportunity to meet the subject it’s really important that the photos are a good likeness and, if possible, demonstrate something of your pet’s character.

  • Alfie (e.g. of a 'dull day' photo OK for a face portrait, but not to show his shoulders or body, which are partially concealed by his very fluffy head!)

    One of the best ways to achieve this is to try and get down to their eye-level, if you can, so that the photo that results isn’t too severely affected by perspective, e.g. if you’re towering above your diminutive little Yorkshire terrier, chances are his face may be clear and large enough, but it will probably obscure his shoulders and front legs and may look oddly out of proportion to the remainder of his body.

  • To avoid uncharacteristic facial expressions (!), it may also be best to try and find (or take) photos that do not position your pet in glaring sunlight or strong winds (where he/she may be caused to squint/close their eyes) – indoors, in either good natural/natural-esque electric light, or outdoors on a dullish day (no flash) would be perfect.
  •  To capture a ‘good likeness’ – and take a picture before they find something more interesting to do! – you might find it easier to wait until they’re installed on their favourite cushion, or in a position that you know indicates they’re relaxed, when they’re perhaps more likely to demonstrate something of their character. (Also, if your pet has a ‘best side’, or a favourite ‘pose’, I’m more than happy to draw to this specification if you can supply a photo showing them in this position.)

It may sound like rather a lot to consider, but I want you to be completely thrilled with the resulting portrait and to be in no doubt that the canine gazing down at you from the sitting room wall is none other than your faithful, and occasionally a bit barmy, Border Collie, Marmaduke (for example) – otherwise, it might as well be any other sheepdog…!

Ginny (e.g. of a v. relaxed subject in one of her favourite positions...)

I draw on relatively heavy-weight (180-200gsm) white cartridge paper and, as pencil drawings have a tendency to smudge fairly easily, treat the surface of the finished drawing with a fixative to help minimise this – not 100% fool-proof, but usually sufficient for the amount of handling involved in the packaging and framing process.

Once the finished drawing is complete, I can email you a scan of the portrait for approval (at this stage any rare, last-minute tweaking can be effected, if requested, before the fixative is applied) before packaging it up on a rigid board, sheathing in tissue paper and wrapping for postage by Royal Mail Special Delivery to the address of your choosing.

If you live locally (in the Staines/Ashford [Surrey] area, TW18) and would prefer to collect the portrait in person (or have it hand-delivered, up to a 3-mile radius – apologies for the limited range: I rely on self-propulsion!), this can also be arranged on request. In such cases, postage charges will obviously not apply!

Although I would normally recommend allowing approx. 4 weeks from ordering to delivery of a portrait, during reasonably quiet periods the turnaround time can be much speedier. If, though, the portrait is intended as a gift for a particular occasion, e.g. a birthday, do please let me know and I promise to do my very best to accommodate your deadline!

Although each pet is different and I am happy to discuss each commission individually so that it can be tailored as accurately as possible to your unique requirements, a few rough guidelines are always useful in establishing a ‘jumping off’ point:

(Note: ‘portrait dimensions’ refer to the size of the finished portrait page; I’m afraid I don’t currently offer a picture mounting service, but most framing galleries/businesses should be able to do this for you if you wish.)

Portrait dimensions:                                                                  Price:

8″ x 10″  (e.g. Sma./Med. dog head & shoulders [h. & s.])        £55.00

10″ x 12″ (e.g. Large dog h. & s./cat, full body)                          £70.00

12″ x 17″ (approx. A3) (e.g. 2 subjects, [h. & s.]/1 full body)    £85.00

12″ x 17″ (e.g. 1 subject, h. & s. and full body images)               £100.00

These are just as a rough guide, but I’m happy to discuss your requirements, whatever size/shape of portrait you have in mind, whatever composition you’ve envisaged (e.g. a single gun dog standing to attention, in profile/a couple of puppies slumped against each other in a basket), and whatever your budget. If you can give me a good idea of what it is you’d like and can send a few images of your ‘subject’ as described above, I’d be more than happy to provide you with a quote – there’s absolutely no obligation for you to proceed with the portrait unless you’re 100% happy, and I promise to return any and all images you may have provided whether you decide to go ahead and commission the work or not.

I hope this helps, but if you have any further questions, or feel that anything I’ve said here muddies the matter as opposed to clarifying it (!), then please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the contact form below:

Alfie (e.g. of 1 subject, 2 poses - his winter and summer 'looks'!)

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