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  • Writer's pictureQinghong Wei, PhD

How I create Pet Portraits from the Heart


I recently created two pet portrait commissions and I was absolutely enamored by painting these two fur babies. These portraits will be wedding gifts from a loving mother to her daughter and soon-to-be husband. The kitty and the pup "are like their children, and I want them to feel the love the animals have for them as they have for their pets." The mother told me, and I was really moved by their story, and feel honored to be part of this gift of Love.

I also want to share a bit of my commission painting process, to give you some ideas if you are also into pet portraits. I always start by asking my client questions, like what the pet's personality is like, what message or feelings you want the painting to convey, etc. Then I will start to tune in and connect with the loving energy of the pet. It may take a while - it feels like planting a seed in my heart and let it grow naturally. When I feel it's ready, I will start the physical painting process.

In this stage, I will start with a pencil sketch, and it serves to get familiar with the physical form of the pet. Then a small watercolor study. Here I don't stress likeness but more to understand how water and color flow together to create the right form. As you can see from the images I post below, the kitty in the study looks quite different from the kitty in the final painting. But it was invaluable informing study.

Then the large painting. It will normally feel quite different from the small study, still a lot unknown to navigate through. It's can be quite challenging for me, which makes it a very valuable learning process And if I get lucky, we will have the pet emerge on the watercolor paper winking at me.

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