Samson: The Painting of a Dog

“Samson” by BZTAT

Meet Samson, a beautiful Pomeranian dog from San Diego, CA! Samson is the housemate a Twitter Critter friend (@PerrytheBirman) whose portrait was featured on the “Buzz from BZTAT!” on April 18. Samson and Perry’s person (@debweeva on Twitter) commissioned their pet portraits after getting to know us on Twitter and seeing my artwork online. It was a privilege to paint both of these beautiful creatures!

I have not met Samson or Perry in person, as they live very far away from me. I created their portraits from photos on their person’s Flickr page.

I knew that painting Samson would be a challenge, as solid colored animals are the most difficult for me. My style depends upon strong contrasts, and solid colored animals have very subtle visual contrasts. Honestly, Samson is the first white dog that I ever painted.

I started by making a reference image by abstracting the photo with Photoshop. This gave me an idea of the basic shapes and lines to the face. I then traced the image onto a black canvas using an overhead transparency.

I began layering colors to get different color and texture effects. I struggled, however,when I started to integrate the subject with the background. I was posting in process photos on Twitter, and everyone was loving it, including my patron. But it wasn’t looking right to me. I had to take some time away from it to get some clarity. I worked on another picture for awhile to take a break.

The image was troubling to me because the face, which takes up the majority of the picture, was very flat and abstract. The background, although also abstract, was more dimensional,
which made the face look too much like a cut-out mask to me.

I fiddled and fiddled, trying to make the face more dimensional, with no success. My style just didn’t lend well to that. Finally, it occurred to me to flatten the background instead. That worked!!!

Now that it is finished, I feel pretty accomplished, having accepted and successfully met a new challenge! There were some moments of insecurity, throughout the process. Such is the life of an artist.

Painting Samson and his housemate Perry was a great adventure! I will be sending them their portraits this week.

Next up? Another Twitter Critter friend, @Pandafur, who is a beautiful Maine Coon cat from Massachusetts!

Life is an Adventure!


Would you like a custom pet portrait of your pet? BZTAT will paint your animal for a very reasonable price. For information, email her at

Follow works in progress by BZTAT on Twitter by searching #bztatptg.

Art Adventures Studios, located in downtown Canton, OHnear Second April Galerie and the historic Onesto Hotel.