Labrador In Black - 7" x 5" oil on hardboard/masonite
I originally planned this painting to illustrate a dog portraiture point I wished to make. Quite often when painting dog portraits, an artist will be presented with photographs which are far from ideal. If possible the best course is to ask for further photographs to be taken but unfortunately sometimes this isn't possible - for instance when the dog is deceased or it is a surprise present for someone and more photographs are out of the question.
Very often the advice given to artists in this position is to find photographs of the same breed of dog to use as reference. Whilst it can be useful to look at several photographs of the same breed, and read the Kennel Club Breed Standard, I would never recommend copying features from a different dog as they vary such a lot. To illustrate this, I had hoped to feature three recent portraits of black labradors together with the one above, showing the differences between them. However, when I looked at the paintings I realised that two of them did actually share the same features (just as well as they were the same dog!) so my little lesson wouldn't work. Oh dear, I obviously need to be more organised!
So what do I recommend in these circumstances? Well as I said above, look at as many photographs of the breed you are painting to get you in the 'breed mood' and buy a good magnifying glass. Also of course you can always ask for certain details, ie colours of nose and eyes. If the photograph really is so bad that a portrait cannot be painted from it, then don't. While some owners are really surprisingly unobservant and could probably be happy with any portrait produced, I consider it insulting to both the dog and owner to mainly paint a portrait from a different dog.
The donation (10% as usual) will be going to Old Dog Haven
This painting is straight off the easel and will need to dry for several days before it can be shipped
My thanks to Cl@re Bear at Flickr for the reference photograph