Remember When? (Portrait of Misha) Oil on Linen, 18 x 22 inches
Early this year I received a call from a woman in central Illinois (my home state), who commissioned a portrait of her Maltese who died last year. She found my website by accident, and fortunately when she looked around she saw an earlier portrait I’d done of the same breed of dog.
Maddie, my first Maltese portrait
The painting was originally going to be a surprise birthday present for her husband, but he was eventually let in to participate in our creative adventure. And for those of you who haven’t commissioned a work of art, especially a portrait, it really is a creative collaboration. And fun.
My patron emailed a number of snapshots and described Misha’s personality, energy, favorite activities, and what place she had (top of the pecking order) in the family of three dogs, a cat, and two mature adults. Based on her input I did three compositional studies in oil for general direction of the work.
These are the three oil studies, each about 8 x 10 inches, loosely based on images I received from the client
They chose the third approach (jumping up in the air to catch a butterfly in her mouth), with the image of the butterfly seen only in reflection in the water below. The concept was simplified in the end to make Misha bigger on the canvas, a good decision I believe, more a combination of studies two and three. Start to finish it was about 8 weeks in the making. Thanks to Yvonne and Phil, my new friends.
The completed portrait. I don’t know how I came up with this idea, but in general when I’m painting animals or people, the more different directions their bodies are going the more interesting the pose (in this case, Misha’s front legs are elevated while leaping forward, her head is turned left and pointed up). The pose is full of enthusiasm, energy and curiosity, qualities that Misha had in spades.