I don't normally show the source images that I use for my portraits. I thought that I'd include this photo (below) of Libby the Airedale (RB) that I recently used for her memorial portrait because it shows how a painting can not only enhance a memory but actually improve upon the original image.
Libby was a rescue dale from Airedale Rescue and Adoption of the Delaware Valley. I didn't have many good photos to work from and I settled on this one because it showed expression plus it showed her head to advantage. The image is blurry but I knew that I could sharpen the focus in my painting. As you can see, I edited the out the extraneous background and used much more saturated color. I cropped it a wee bit closer to the nose than the photo since I like it to look as if the dog is about to emerge for the confines of the border! The nose touching the border creates a visual tension that draws your eye to that spot and you then follow the image across the canvas. Libby was a sweet Aire girl that I had the pleasure to know. Mako was especially fond of her. I think that she liked him, too!
I am fortunate to be featured in an article -"With lens, brush, artists capture love" - in the Spring edition of Delaware Pets! I'd like to thank Ken Mammerella of the News Journal for the interview for and including me in the story. The print version of Delaware Pets was included in 3/25 edition of the News Journal.
There is a quote in the article from me about grief counseling. Many of my clients have recently lost a pet and the pet's passing is the reason that they want to commission a portrait. Often, they have waited for a year or more to commission a portrait from me and the death of their pet has triggered the desire to have a portrait done now. A painted portrait is a way to still have a special connection to that pet. It is how I got started in the profession. I painted my Monty's portrait just before he died of CRF. Monty still guards the house and that portrait is my official image of him. Our society still doesn't fully recognize the validity of grieving over the loss of a pet. Sometimes, people feel guilty or that something is wrong about the intensity of their feelings. I'm here to say that it is normal. When you've shared your life and your emotions with your pet, they are part of the fabric of your life. Of course it hurts us when they die! Especially if you nursed them through that final illness. Anyone who puts you down for grieving for them is insensitive and cruel. I'm lucky to have a life and career where I am surrounded by animal lovers. We all understand the meaning of the human - animal relationship. It doesn't mean that you love the people in your life any less. In fact, it may mean that you love them even more.
And to paraphrase the title of Temple Grandin's recent book - Animals Make Us Human!