Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sucker for Punishment! Cat Portrait

 I've been asked to paint a portrait of a recently deceased cat and the following (& a couple more that are similar to these) are the only known photos of him.  The first and last photos are the best, of course, but none are really great references.  The first photo is of the cat when he was younger and the rest are from the last years of the life of the cat.  And these are all at the size the client emailed to me.  When I asked for larger resolution photos, I got enlarged versions (not higher resolution) of the ones sent - very pixelated and worse than the originals. 

I guess I'm a sucker since I said I'd TRY to do this portrait.  This is a favorite client and she's commissioning it for a friend of hers who just lost this cat.  So many people think an artist can look at bad reference photos and immediately paint a superior portrait. Fortunately, this client is not like that but she would still like a miracle, of course. 

To all others who give me reference photos like these I'd like to ask them to drive down to the corner store and get me a soft drink - oh, and by the way, have them wear a blindfold.  Then , if they protest, I'd say, "Oh, don't worry, you've driven there hundreds of times and I know you can do it! and please can you be back in about 10 minutes?"

To me, that's much the same expectation many people have of a pet portrait artist.   Just because we've painted a lot of cats or dogs or other animals in our life doesn't mean that we automatically know what your pet looks like nor can we paint it in a short amount of time.  Animals are like people and one ginger cat does not look like another one!

Fortunately, I'm to paint the younger version of the cat before he got his ear mangled. I don't think I could paint that ear and have it look right - there's just not a photo that shows it clearly enough to paint accurately. 

I know, I know, I could have refused to even consider this commission but hey, I'm a sucker! 


Dors said...

Oh Jan what a challenge. Not good reference photos at all.

I am a sucker too and have had similar refs.

As artists we can only do out best.

See you soon. xx

Christine Perry | Graphite Art said...

Jan, I am feeling your frustration. You've got a difficult job ahead of you here. The cat looks pretty roughed up, meaning the fur isn't very smooth looking at all. Good thing is that you can kind of see the pattern of the fur on the head, and see that the lower mouth is a lighter color and front chest hairs are the same color of the rest of her. I'll look forward to see what you will do with this, and have confidence that you will do well. :)

sue said...

Oh poor Jan :O(

I thought my black horse commission was going to be tough but the ref photos are 100% better than what you've been asked to deal with.

I know just how frustrating and non-enjoyable this is likely to be but I'm sure if anyone can pull it off, you will.

Jan/ said...

Thanks everyone. In spite of the poor refs, this is going surprisingly well. Spending time with my granddaughter so will update when I can.