We all know that pets don’t live forever but over the last week I’ve been paying even more attention to my rescue cats than usual – one of them came home late at night, limping and with a bloodied back leg. I assumed she’d come off worse in a fight. My vet said that she’d been run over. She doesn’t usually go near the road, but perhaps something scared her and she ran off into the path of a car. Fortunately she doesn’t have a broken leg, but she does need to have a broken tooth removed. It could have been so much worse, and she hates wearing the cone of shame, but luckily she’s on the mend.
As I’m an animal artist this set me thinking about why my clients decide to get their pet portraits painted when they do. There are generally three main things that trigger commissioning a custom painting of their much loved pet :
1. Their pet has recently died.
These can be the most challenging as there is no chance to take additional photos of the animals. Family photos may be out of focus or taken at a distance. The photographer probably didn’t think about a future pet portrait. If the client has enough photos I can usually produce a reasonable likeness using these and other references;
2. To remember their pet in their prime.
Pet owners often want a pet portrait of their ageing cat or dog once the owner realises that time is not on their side. I can paint from good photos of a younger animal if you want to preserve their youthful good looks forever;
3. As a surprise gift for family or friends who love their pets.
This is often for a special occasion such a significant birthday, or as a wedding or Christmas present. Most people ask far enough in advance to give me time to paint, but if time is short, I usually suggest a gift voucher so the recipient can follow the painting process and see the image emerge on paper or canvas.
I’ve already painted my gorgeous cats – my pets may not live forever, but they are immortalised in a garden mosaic to replace a broken paving slab.
What would prompt you to commission a pet portrait?