Capturing the essence of an animal’s character is a primary objective when painting the portrait of someone’s beloved pet. Although my pet portraits are somewhat abstract, and the colors diverge a bit from reality, there still has to be plausibility. The image has to look like a specific animal, and it has to strike a chord with the animal’s human caretaker in a deep and moving way.
Even so, there is room to play.
Cats are fantastic creatures, and the relationships we form with them include a great deal of imagination. Painting their portraits often allows for a great deal of creativity beyond the simple depiction of their features.
In my most recent portrait of Francie, a beautiful dilute tortie cat (tortoise shell/calico with gray and creamy colors), I found a lot of creative energy in the way that her presence interacted with the background of her home. The reference photos I received of her revealed a rug with amazing abstract patterns and designs and colors as part of her domain, and I was drawn to it as I developed the initial sketches. I had to include that rug in the painting.
Moreso than many of my portraits, Francie’s painting took a turn towards the abstract in many ways, yet her personality still dominates the painting. According to her human caretaker, she is an intense creature with a variety of expressions, ranging from worried, annoyed, sleepy, impatient, alert, goofy, and loving. She can be demanding, yet also very loving, and she is a generous “big sister” to a younger feline with whom she shares her home.
“She is very emotionally involved with us and sensitive to our moods; she is always in the room with us, participating in whatever we’re doing… She was a rescue, found by a workman riding his bike home from work. She was on an overpass and he picked her up and carried her to a restaurant parking lot. We saw them from the window and we took her. She was not feral; she was vocal and made eye contact, and bonded with us immediately.”
Francie’s story is as amazing as she is. She was so fortunate to be rescued at the exact moment that the most perfect family arrived to take her home! I had great fun painting her portrait, and I am grateful that my artistry could help to express that love in a special way!
Life is an Adventure!