What's on BZTAT's Easel? A Pet Portrait of Sadie Shih Tzu!

Artwork by BZTAT
Artwork by BZTAT

Every pet portrait that I make is special.

I love animals. I love people who love animals. I love the process of making an animal that is special to someone come alive in a painting.

That said, there are certain portraits that are really special to me. This portrait of Sadie Shih Tzu is one of those.

Sadie’s “person”, Liz Hover did a HUGE favor for me by helping me create this website in exchange for the portrait. I cannot thank her enough!

I think the fact that it was so special to me made it more difficult to make. Sometimes, when you are too emotionally attached to the outcome of a painting, you end up forcing it and not allowing yourself to let the process flow.

 Sadie-Shih-Tzu-WIP-1It seemed to start out well. Liz had asked that I do the portrait in a semi-abstract and whimsical style. I used a textured board to add to the style.

As I always do, my first step was to paint the background black and then block in colors and shapes.


I layered more colors on to refine the colors and shapes. At this point, I posted images on Twitter and Facebook so that my followers could watch the development of the painting.

Sadie and Liz were so thrilled with it at this stage, Sadie changed her twitter profile picture to the unfinished painting!

But something was not working right. I am not sure what it was, but the face just wouldn’t work right from this point forward.

I struggled and fussed with it, and I even set it aside for awhile, trying to find that magical moment where the painting would just WORK. That moment never came.

I finally did something that I RARELY do. I started the whole thing over again.

I realized the problem was in the original drawing that I started with. Although the image seems very simple, there is a directionality to the face that is quite difficult to capture.  The second effort captured it much more effectively.

 Sadie-Shih-Tzu-4Using my usual layering technique, I refined the colors and shapes, building up color by painting many layers of varied colors on top of each other.

Each layer reveals some trace of the underneath layers.

The finished piece finally captured the sweet mischievous quality of Sadie that was so important to me to show in the painting.


I will be sending Sadie her portrait in the mail this week. I hope that she enjoys it!

Thanks again to Liz for all her spectacular work in making BZTAT.com come alive!

BTW–If you are wondering about the background in some of the photos here, they were taken at Canine Action Sports, where I paint on location during obedience classes on Thursday evenings. Come visit if you are ever in the neighborhood!

Follow Sadie on Twitter: @sadieshihtzu

Follow Liz Hover on Twitter: @lizhover

Follow BZTAT on Twitter: @BZTAT

Life is an Adventure!