I got a nice surprise when Meredith reached out to me to see if I’d like to work on a portrait of her dad’s dog. She loved the one her husband had commissioned me to do of their own dog, Ross, and wanted to give her dad the portrait for his upcoming birthday.
Sparky is a playful Australian Shepherd-Border Collie mix who knows lots of tricks that his dad taught him. Meredith wanted to explore a Western cowboy theme, which I thought sounded like a lot of fun! I provided a few concepts for her to choose from, and she selected the one with a classic red rancher bandana, a rope lasso in his mouth, and wheat for the botanical frame.
His fur looked so soft in the reference photos she sent, so I concentrated on making it capture that feel in his portrait. And I like the way he looks like he’s ready to go play — as if he’s saying “Ok, I grabbed the lasso…let’s go!”
While drawing out the rope design, I had to pay close attention to keeping the angles consistent. I also wanted it to look natural and not overly perfect, so I varied the thickness and color slightly for a looser feel. For the bandana, I used colored pencil for the fabric and shading, then went back over the top with gouache to create the surface pattern.
It always means so much to me when people trust me to create a special gift for their loved ones. I hope Meredith’s dad was thrilled with the portrait of his best friend.