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Painting Lovable Louie

I had the privilege of making a painting of this adorable dog, Louie, for a Mother’s Day gift this spring.
People often ask me the process I use when I am commissioned to paint a pet.
Here’s how it works: After we talk about the pet and what makes him or her so special, I ask my client to send me a few pictures of the interior of the house where the painting will hang. This way, I can take a look at their style, taste and the colors of the decor.
And I make sure they include some pics of their artwork as well. As you can see, in this case, the clients’  taste was modern, clean, and almost industrial-feeling, with bright pops of color.
And then I received pictures of the Louie. What a sweet dog. I really wanted to paint one of him “smiling,” but the problem was when he was “smiling” his ears were laid back!
So we decided to do one with his ears up and that soulful gaze, as in this photo.
Here is my preliminary drawing. I use vine charcoal at this stage, which  I like because I can erase it very easily as I draw. Then I use compressed charcoal when I need darker areas and use a workable fixative to protect the charcoal from smudging…
A progress photo of my first layers of paint…
and here’s the finished painting with Louie and his mom.
I went with a contemporary, playful and fun vibe to match the energy of the house and the family.
And here’s a note from his “sister”:
We first saw Louie in a Craigslist ad. My mom thought he was cute and thought she might want him, but didn’t look like he was in very good shape. We ended up rescuing him from a trailer in Oregon City. The place was total chaos: Dogs were living inside the trailer and outside in doggy igloos. The ones inside were going to the bathroom all over the floor and on furniture. Louie was one of the dogs living in an igloo outside. His paws and tail were frostbitten and he was unhealthily skinny. We knew we had to get him out of this place…at least, we thought, was give him to a nearby animal shelter. He cost only $60, and the girl who sold him to us was a total drug addict. 
But we ended up taking Louise home. For a year he was aggressive and shy towards us. He spent most of his time alone upstairs hidden under a blanket. We started locking him downstairs using a baby gate, just so we could spend more time with him. To this day we still use a baby gate, but he is a completely different dog. Everyone loves him, and my mom is his favorite person in the family. 
You captured him perfectly! Thank you again! She absolutely loves it!
If you’re interested in chatting about a pet portrait for yourself or for someone you love, check out Commissioning Paintings.

Annie Salness Artist

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