Acrylic on Illustration Board
24″ x 18″
One of the biggest challenges I face with clients wanting portrait work done is getting them to supply good reference to work from. I always make it clear that I can only paint the detail I can see and that I can’t really make things up when it comes to missing details. I have always had a rule of thumb – if the person’s or pet’s face is smaller than the end of my thumb, there isn’t enough detail to work from. That, and the picture I am going to use has to be clear and in focus. Some people understand this right away and other’s don’t and still expect me to produce a dazzling portrait where every skin pore or strand of fur is immaculately rendered. This painting of a cat was one of those instances where I reluctantly agreed to work from a very poor reference photo. The lady that ordered the portrait wanted it for a Christmas gift for her husband as it was their cat they had for almost 20 years that had passed away. She had been to visit me at 2 separate public demos and really wanted to have the portrait done. The problem was that all of the photos she had were extremely under exposed and slightly out of focus. I picked the best of the worst shots out of the selections and did my best to produce the painting. It was a slow process of trying to balance the light and shadow and get the proper form of the cat. All of the tonal values you see in the painting were all done on judgement and couldn’t be matched to reference photo at all. All I could do was go by the major shapes and build up the painting layer by layer until it seemed balanced. When the portrait was delivered the lady was extremely pleased and I relieved.