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Rex , Hawk and Grizzly

The creation of a triple dog memorial portrait from separate photos.

Carole wants me to create portraits of many of her dogs. A lot of the portraits are posthumous and the only photos we have for reference are very old blurry ones.

This is the story of a few of those portraits

Carole thought she would like to have a wall filled with portraits of past and present dogs. I suggested that an Oil on gallery wrap canvas would be the best way to present them. There is no need to frame the painting and it is the most economical way of having a multiple Oil portrait done.

Our first portrait was of  Rex , Hawk and Grizzly.

With Rex , Hawk & Grizzly I created a coloured background that was subtle but best bought out the colour of the dogs. This would be the theme for all subsequent portraits so they would  look good hung together on the wall.

Carole found all the photo’s she could of each dog and emailed them to me with a note as to which were her favourites. As the portrait was a multiple dog portrait as well as trying to pick the most flattering and sharpest photos we  had to choose ones that would look nice next to each other and suit the design.

Here are the photos we selected.

The original photo used for Hawk's portrait


This photo wasn’t that bad although Carole asked me to straighten his ears in the portrait.

It still lacks a bit of detail in the nose and right hand cheek area. For the best results in a portrait I need to be able to see the bone structure of the face as each dog is different and that is what helps make them unique!

The original photo for Rex


This was the most flattering photo we had of Rex. It was a cropped section of a photo taken from a fair distance away and the quality left a lot to be desired. I would usually say it wasn’t good enough to use for a portrait but as it was a posthumous portrait Carole said to just go ahead and do the best I could.

 As you see there is no detail in his eyes or nose . They are just black blobs.

The original photo for Grizzly


Now this one is more like it! A nice happy pose , pretty sharp and eyes and nose details good.

Because we were using several reference photos that weren’t very good I had to average out the portrait. I couldn’t have Grizzly really sharp and detailed  because we had a clear photo of him and then paint the other two who had unclear reference photos more generally. I averaged the three portraits so the overall painting would look cohesive.

 Below is a computer mockup showing the suggested placement of each dog in the portrait.

I sent this to Carole to give her a rough idea of what the finished portrait would be like and get her feedback. I was to remove the background and create a cohesive custom coloured background.

We decided this was the way to go and then I did a sketch of each dog and sent them for her approval.

The mockup I showed Carol so she could get an idea of what position each dog would be in in the portrait.

 I did 3 separate sketches as then they could be bigger to get more detail in.If I had done one long one the faces would have been smaller.

If necessary changes can be made to the sketches at this stage but Carole was happy with them so I could then start to paint!

The sketches are shown below. Sorry they didn’t photograph very well.

Sketch for Grizzly
The sketch for Hawk
The sketch for Rex
The finished portrait of rex , Hawk & grizzly

Rex , Hawk and Grizzly

35 x 74 cms

Oil on gallery wrap canvas

” It’s awesome! I’m more than happy with it!