I often get great compliments on my dog portraits; ' they are so realistic', 'I've never seen anything like this', 'I thought it was a picture!'.
Compliments like these always make me lost for words...somehow I can seem to comprehend that my own two hands actually practice the art of drawing. Especially since I never considered myself to be a socalled creative person.
When I tell people I struggle to find the time to draw because of my day job (I work fulltime as an office manager at an internet agency), they always react kind of surprised. Surprised that I still work a day job and can't manage to support myself with my art.
The problem is that there is always an uncertain factor when your income depends on commissions; one month you may receive 10 commissions, but who's to say what the next month will bring. I do know it will bring a stack of bills that need payment. Whether I managed to receive commissions or not...
Some days I think it would be easier to take the leap of faith if I would have a partner I lived with. Double income. Less financial risk. But then again I probably wouldn't be able to draw 8 hours a day, since I wouldn't be able to focus on my drawing when the bed isn't made, the dishes aren't washed and the room isn't vacuumed. And that does seem to come with the package. Oh, the struggle!
I currently live by myself. Well, that's not quite true. I live together with my Great Dane Noa, my muse. So no, not by myself, but with the best roommate a person could wish for! That also means I don't just have myself to take care of. She depends on me. She depends on me for walks, food, her medicine and lots of love. And of course she gets all of that. But that also means that working less hours with my boss, or quitting my day job all together, could have concequences for her. No, not the love and walks part, but she does have quite a gourmet taste and her meds are not the cheapest either.
Another part of the struggle is that bringing down the hours as an Office Manager would mean, besides spending more hours at the drawing board, spending more time with my girl. A typical win-win wouldn't you think? But on the other hand it would mean I HAVE to get enough commissions to fill the 'gap' in order to maintain our living standards. And that's a certainty I don't have. Damn, why are some things so complicated sometimes... Or do you think I just see bumps in the road?
At this point I think I will postpone the difficult decision to quit my day job until further notice. But the the fact that thoughts like these circle my brain tell me that I am almost ready to become an actual entrepeneur ;-)
All my dog portaits are drawn from pictures. Good quality pictures that is. Since I pay a lot of attention to detail in my drawings, these details need to be visible in the picture.
From time to time I get a bad quality picture send by someone, with the request to draw that picture. Unfortunately I am unable to draw from poor quality pictures...
We all know how hard it can be to take a pic of our pups;
It’s so hard to capture their unimaginable adorableness and beauty with a camera or phone, but here are some tips on how it can be done (without having to hire a professional photographer or buying a complicated expensive camera):
If possible always use natural light when taking a picture of your dog. Avoid flash, as flash burst can not only cause red-eyes, but also frighten your pup. Instead try to go outside or, if that's not an option, use a room that's well lit by a large window.
As the eyes are known as 'the windows to the soul', having sharp eyes in the picture is super important. Make sure to focus on your dogs eyes and keep the tack sharp. Maybe even consider holding his or her favorite toy right above the lens of your camera or phone, to make sure your dog will focus on that. That way you can buy yourself some time to click for the perfect pic!
It is very important that you dog feels comfortable and at ease, so instead of forcing him or her to come to you go to them. Most important is to get down to their level; We all know how a dog looks when viewed from above, this is the way we always see them. Show us the way they see world! Sit on the floor or lie on your belly and remember to shoot from HIS or HER eye level or maybe even below.
I think it's safe to say that your dog will be totally him- or herself when you are the one behind the camera. Therefor chances are that they will show their true character. In my opinion a successful picture is one that reflects your dog a they truly are. We are all familiar with the 'sqeeky toy' pics, where your dog looks super alert with his or her eyes wide open. If you want to photograph your dog with 'softer eyes' and a more relaxed appearance, stay away from objects to lure their attention.
In order to end up with a high quality picture of your dog, make sure to leave the 'zoom' function on your camera or phone alone. If you do zoom in when taking a picture, that usually results in loss of quality where the enlarged image looks blurry and unprofessional.
Dog photography requires a lot of patience. A LOT! No matter how excited your pup is, if you are patient enough, he or she will end up relaxing and you will have the opportunity to get a decent shot. When you lay down on the floor for example, they might think you are initiating a new sort of game and be 'in your face'. But once they notice that you are not instigating a game, they eventually leave you be and give you the chance to take some great pictures.
Try different approaches, angles and compositions. Don't expect to have the perfect picture taken in the first try. It might take you several sessions before you get that perfect picture. Shoot a lot; you will have time to worry about the results later.
No matter what you try to get the perfect picture of your dog, make sure you and your dog have fun doing it!
You have a tip that I forgot to mention? Make sure to share it by adding it in the comments :-)
In my previous post I mentioned my switch from charcoal to PanPastel and I thought I'd write some more on this fantastic medium that is, for reasons unknown to me, relatively unknown in the artist world.
PanPastel is a member of the soft pastel family. On their website www.panpastel.com it states; 'PanPastel Colors are professional artists’ quality soft pastel colors packed in a unique pan format (cake-like). The special qualities of PanPastel Colors mean that artists can blend and apply dry color like fluid paint for the first time.'
Since I only use black for my dog portraits, you might wonder why I'm such a PanPastel enthusiast. Well, let me try and explain to you why that is. As you might know soft pastel is known for its rich colors and versatility. Since I was looking for a medium that could give me a rich black color, the switch to soft pastel wasn't all that surprising. But why not switch to traditional soft pastel sticks or pencils you wonder?
I wanted to use a medium that I could do the full portraits with. I didn't want to do mixed media. Using only soft pastel sticks would have meant I'd had to combine them with soft pastel pencils for the finer details, since I couldn't see myself creating super fine lines with a stick. Using only soft pastel pencils would have meant I couldn't create the softness that soft pastel sticks can create. Then the store clerk pointed PanPastel out...
As the name already states, PanPastel comes in small pan's. It's appearance may remind you of things you'll normally find in a make-up bag, like blusher or eye-shadow. To apply PanPastel I was recommended to use the specially designed Sofft tools and applicators; sponge tools that come in various sizes and shapes. Achieving tight detail takes a lot of practice, but as my dog portraits show, it can be done!
Furthermore PanPastel creates far less dust than charcoal or traditional soft pastel sticks. An added bonus for me, since my whole living room was sometimes covered in grayish powdery dust after a drawing session with charcoal...
Most soft pastel artists still choose to use sticks and pencils over PanPastel, but I take great pride in the fact that I have 'mastered the art of PanPastel'!