• Nick Pike

Step-by-step Dog Portrait commission in oil paint


A lovely couple Oli & Hayley rang to commission a portrait of Oli's parents' Bichon Frise dog for a 60th birthday surprise. They were well prepared with a great variety of photographs of Daisy. Whilst browsing through them, I noticed her left leg poked out in a few pics and Oli said this was her trademark pose, so I made this a feature.



I had a request to take some progress photos along the way, something I'd never been asked before. Here are the pictures I sent to Oli:

The first photo was a sketch of Daisy to study light and shade. Also adding the pokey-out leg! The second shows her on canvas with gesso to enhance the texture of Daisy's coat, pre-painting.

With these photos, I concentrated on the eyes, nose and mouth, building up the contrasting white fur and blurred the tail to make it appear to be wagging.

With these photos, I concentrated on the eyes, nose and mouth, building up the contrasting white fur and blurred the tail to make it appear to be wagging.





Because of the short deadline, I opted to offer the painting framed. This was beneficial for me as the oil paint would still be wet and very difficult for Oli and his family to touch. A frame ensures that you will be able to hold it without this problem, it is also slightly raised, so if you do need to wrap a painting like this, you have extra protection.


I used an old frame which I sanded and painted in white mixed with yellow ochre acrylic paint, echoing the Daisy's coat. Choosing a standard size canvas from the outset is generally best for both parties as there is always the option to pick a frame from the shops/online.


Another, easier option which I often choose is offering a deep edge canvas. This is a simple but modern and effective alternative, which gives a 3D effect to a finished painting.


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