Wednesday, May 22, 2024
animal artworkcommissioned portraitDaily Featuredogdog portraitfeatured artworkpastelpastel paintingpet portraitportrait

Commissioned Portrait: “Annie”

"Annie", pastel, 11" x 14", 2016 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Annie”, pastel, 11″ x 14″, 2016 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Meet Annie, a boxer mix whose portrait I recently finished. Her person won a portrait certificate I donated to Advocates 4 Animals in Xenia, Ohio, so though I only met Annie through photos and emails she looks so beguiling there on her rug and was a joy to paint I feel like I know her.

Annie’s portrait was fairly straightforward, and this was the reference photo her person chose as the pose she’d like for Annie.

Reference photo for Anni'es portrait.
Reference photo for Annie’s portrait.

A happy dog in front of a fireplace, what a wonderful pose! Her posture is perfectly composed—animals really do know how to pose—though the lighting is a little contrasty, often an issue with digital cameras. It’s a funny thing with digital photos too, they look great  but often when you need clarity in details it just isn’t there. With the contrast in the photo the brightest highlights are washed out on her paws and the deepest shadows around her eyes and nose were filled in. I asked for a few closeups of her face just so I could see the structure in detail, even if they weren’t in the same angle or lighting as the reference photo. But that makes all the difference in creating an accurate portrait.

Detail of "Annie", pastel, 11" x 14", 2016 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Detail of “Annie”, pastel, 11″ x 14″, 2016 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

And then too, because the portrait was to be 11″ x 14″ maximum, I decided to leave the fireplace out and just simplify the composition to focus on Annie. With a larger portrait I would have been happy to include it, and Annie would still have been large enough to see in detail, but smaller portraits don’t hold up well when you try to include too much of a background.

I did enjoy the wood and the rug as well. Painting patterns is fun because I get to study the object, the wood grain and the cotton chenille, and decide how to recognizably render it without drawing every last thread and wood fiber. I straightened out the parallax in the wood grain, where it changes angle across the image, because it would have been oddly noticeable in a smaller image—many things work fine in a photo, but not in a painting. I also straightened the slight foreshortening of Annie and the rug that happened from the angle of the photo, where her hindquarters look proportionally smaller than her chest and head and front paws.

And Annie’s simple little portrait is actually compositionally complex. The wood grain is on an angle in one direction and Annie on the rug crosses the wood grain, which balances everything just perfectly. Everything lined up with the edges of a painting can be classic or it can seem static and dull, and having subjects angled within a composition can be dynamic or a disaster. Both compositions have their benefits and challenges. I like how Annie’s portrait is simple but exciting to look at.

Because these portraits are typically smaller and simpler, they don’t have the story attached to some of my larger and more elaborate portraits, but they are special to their person and to me nonetheless—no one pays a good sum of money for a portrait of their pet, whether they bid on it at an auction or purchase directly from me, without a lot of deep feeling involved.

Also read about other current Commissioned Portraits and Featured Artwork

I also feature artwork which has not been commissioned, especially my paintings of my own cats. If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current portraits and art assignments and even historic portraits and paintings, I feature commissioned portrait or other piece of artwork on Wednesday. Choose the categories featured artwork.

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.

Download a Brochure

cover of brochure
My Portraits Brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.

Purchase a Gift Certificate

Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate
Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates here or from Portraits of Animal if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.

Enter the recipient’s name
Enter shipping address

You only need to enter an address if it is different from the address I’ll receive through PayPal. These are often surprise gifts and need to be shipped away from the home address to make sure they are a surprise.

Subscribe to my e-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat Preview E-newsletter.


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

© 2016 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!



Inspire Me Monday
Inspire Me Monday


From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

3 thoughts on “Commissioned Portrait: “Annie”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by ExactMetrics