View Full Version : dog commission--help needed!

Deborah Secor
11-30-2003, 02:28 PM
I'm starting today on a commission painting of a poodle, Molly. The lady who owns her wants Molly painted on the beach. I thought I'd post the images here so you all can help me think before I start to paint--you're so good at that!

Here's Molly:


And here's the beach she loves:


And here are the two possibilities I've suggested to the buyer, both of which she likes. She wants me to choose:

A: sitting

B: face

So, any suggestions? I have some excellent shots of her head and face to use for details on this. The size of the finished painting will be 8x11" (or slightly larger, on a 9x12" sheet of Wallis) so I'm thinking the face shot, B, is stronger. I have to deal with the beach--just a suggestion of it somehow, not a detailed beach scene.

In A, would you have her paw go off at the bottom? Would you crop differently? Would you suggest a deeper shadow to hide the paws she's sitting on, or, conversely, detail that more clearly?

In B, Would you pull the light down further on the side of her chest? Would you crop closer to her face or farther down???

Heeeeellllppppp.... I'll be doing some drawings today and will post anything I come up with, but I welcome--no NEED your views on this.

Many thanks.

11-30-2003, 02:44 PM
My opinion, which isn't worth much, is that on that small of a piece of paper, I would just do the head shot..

I think the photo in B would make a great painting the way it is.

11-30-2003, 03:17 PM
Dog commissions are great ..... arent they Dee.... hee hee :D .... hey does this help at all? ....... combining two of your pics


Kathryn Wilson
11-30-2003, 03:48 PM
IMO - I like the B version best - it's more about the dog than the beach and you can get more detail into it on that small sheet.

Looks like a fun project!

Deborah Secor
11-30-2003, 04:07 PM
Thanks bombero and Kat, I'm glad you all think B is best because I can't see trying to get her whole body in there. I'm actually considering painting it a smidgie larger and not charging more, just so it makes it a bit easier for me!

Oh yeah, Dawn, that helps a lot. I just don't have the software to cut and paste like that yet. Thanks. In fact, I'm doing a color sketch and it looks similar.



This is about a half hour so far, and I see the darks are off. I'm just wondering about proportions. Does she look like a big dog and not a toy? Is her head too close to the top? Now that I compare to your version, Dawn, I can see that the sky is too pale, too!

Ack! I'll get there...


11-30-2003, 04:13 PM
OOOhhhhh this is going to be lovely!!
At first I liked the top one the best..but the size of your paper makes the second one ..just right!
Cant wait to see this!!

11-30-2003, 04:37 PM
Looking good Dee.... good colours too......
..... if you could get a little more space on the top, would be perfect.... double the amount you have now.....
Definately a full poodle and not a toy...... ..... once you get the texture going in the fur, it will become more apparent

11-30-2003, 04:37 PM
THis is a great start. I'm glad you chose the head shot and I think Dawn's suggestion was excellent. Really nice start...I'll watch for the progress reports!


11-30-2003, 05:14 PM
You're off to a great start and I really love your model! Love the colors and think the background is perfect for Molly. Yes she looks like the big poodle. Too bad the format is small because that front leg gesture is so full of personality. Yes, I think I'd try to put some light - but not the lightest light - across her chest.

These types of commissions are the most fun, wish I had one.:(

Deborah Secor
12-09-2003, 06:36 PM
Okay, here's the next version. Tell me what you think. Be picky--this needs to be shipped next week so time is short! What bugs you? Is the color okay? What about the beach? Do her eyes read and does she seem to sort of smile? Is that mouth too simple? Thanks for any help...



12-09-2003, 06:50 PM
This is absolutely lovely!!!!!
I love the way you played the colors, her curly hair and the highlights in her eyes!
I notice you went with a colder blue for the water and sky. I think it's a good choice, because she ( the dog) is mostly warm, so it jumps forward better
The mouth is smiley, but all pudles have this face. Don't worry, it's not simple, this IS the way their lips are. Molly will be flattered to see herself :)

12-09-2003, 07:16 PM
:music:Woolie Bully..... Woolie Bully...... .... Woolie Bully....... :music:

He's brilliant..... lol...... you have to grin when you see him ......
yes I think I agree with you about the mouth.... put a bit more colour into it, and thicken it up a tad..... I would also put a bit more light for the viewers left eye.... so they are not Both in shadow.... more like the photo

she will love this for sure

Deborah Secor
12-09-2003, 07:43 PM
Thanks! You all are so good at prompt help. I need to noodle with the mouth a tad. It'll end up looking about the same but maybe just seem a little more considered. I think your idea of a little more light in the left eye is a good one, D_S. I want to show the color of her eyes.

Is anyone bugged by the orangey red on her ear? Would you put more of that color elsewhere or less there?

Do you think it's finished looking enough in the lower left corner or should I do a bit more there?

Thanks, thanks, thanks!

12-09-2003, 08:03 PM
I knew this would turn out terrific!! Love the colors!

12-09-2003, 08:04 PM
Dee she's a super little poodle, you have rendered the fur so well, colours are a great and the face is so full of character, and yes I like the smile :)

As for what is bugging me, it's the sharp diagonal line of the water edge, is it possible to gentle that, make it more undulating?
As to the lower left foreground, I personally wouldn't add any more there, in fact I'd be inclined to blur it out just a tad more.

Hope this helps, ignore if not.


Kathryn Wilson
12-09-2003, 08:11 PM
You nailed it Dee - but I agree with Mo, the waterline is harsh and the dark area on the lower left is distracting.

But other than those nitpicks, you've done a wonderful job - the color is glorious, the eyes are intelligent, and there is just a hint of a smile. :D

Mikki Petersen
12-09-2003, 11:03 PM
Looks like an alert, happy poodle to me with a glint of mischief in his eyes.

I too agree about the horizon line and also think that intensifying the blue in the sky would contrast beautifully with the dog's coloring. Good job and FAST!

12-09-2003, 11:54 PM
Great job on this! The colors are wonderful and the dog really stands out well from the background. More blue in the sky would be cool cuz that would really go well with the oranginess (is that a real word?) of the dog fur - would make for a nice contrast.

I have no doubt the client is going to love this!

12-10-2003, 09:29 AM
She's really a pleasure to look at! Hope I'm not too late for comments, but the orange on her left/our right ear could be subdued a bit and maybe a touch put in higher up on the ear and on the chest. Agree that the mouth is too much of a simple line. Personally, to me, the background looks perfect. Her owners will be thrilled with this!

Deborah Secor
12-10-2003, 12:04 PM
Well, I guess I didn't quite nail it! LOL Here's what the client wrote:

It appears you were having so much fun painting her curls that you went alittle out of control with them. :-) She looks fat and her body is undefined.

The nice part is that this morning when I got up and looked at it I saw just that, so I'd already carved her down on the sides before I saw this message. She's right--I was a little enthused about the curls and missed the bone structure of her body.

I'll post the new version here before sending off a photo of it to her so you all can critique it with me. I'll put the original photo next to it so we can compare.


12-10-2003, 01:25 PM
Ohhhhh ...... did the comments bother you Dee?

Deborah Secor
12-10-2003, 01:58 PM
Oh, no, they didn't bother me in the least! I prefer honesty...and needed to know what she thought. In fact, I'd already noticed the problem.

Ref photo:

Then from this:

To this:

Now I think I'm getting it! But be even pickier, if you want to. I'll take all the helpful criticism I can get. (Oh, yes, I'm fixing that blue in the water to the right side of the dog. Too raw.)


12-10-2003, 04:04 PM
Hi Dee, ok ..... lol here goes..... ..... I still think you are missing the light fur to viewers left surrounding eye ....... love how you brightened the eye itself up though....... perhaps some more light on the side of the left body too... and still not convinced regarding the mouth..... and would like to see some deeper darker shadows as in ref pic

12-10-2003, 04:20 PM
Hope you dont mind Dee... used PSP, roughly and rather exaggerated to show what I mean....... I would use your ref photo, and squint to see the shadows and lights


Hope this helps...... put in some HIGH highlights.... and thickened up the mouth.... darkened shadows..... put lights round the left eye..... etc

12-10-2003, 09:04 PM
How funny, Dee, it would be easy to get carried away with her curls but I think her width does look better -- and agree with Dawn that more light on the left is needed to define her shoulder and leg. If you look at the photo then compare your last version you'll notice the line of her left leg/viewer's right is fairly straight though and not angled out and her ear sticks out farther to the right than her body, so maybe she could be trimmed more on that side. She could also use some lighter color in her chest I think.

Deborah Secor
12-18-2003, 02:24 PM

Hi again. Here's the next version of Molly--and I'm praying it's near if not THE last one. I've done four revisions for the customer so far. She's across the country so I've shown her digitals. I want her to be happy before I ship it to her. Tell me what you think! I'm pretty happy with this now myself, especially the way the light on her chest worked out. I think it gives it more depth and mass.

Any other thoughts? I really appreciate your helpful suggestions.

12-18-2003, 05:23 PM
I feel for you Dee........ you must be getting cheesed off with this one........ I think you have done a wonderful job on all...... your customer knows exactly what she is wanting to see..... so its her you have to please....... just a personal thing for me...... I still dont like the perfect line for the mouth..... and not sure if you would see so much 'white' of the eye...... but if the customer hasnt commented on either....... leave well alone lol ........

wish you luck with this being the final version

12-18-2003, 05:48 PM
I think it is wonderful!! I know I would be happy! Poodles can be very tough to paint!!

Deborah Secor
12-18-2003, 05:58 PM
Well, I'd do a number of things differently but she likes the mouth just as it is, and frankly I won't mess with success! I don't quite understand what you mean by 'white' of the eye. There really isn't any showing in the painting. There are some flecks of golden hair over the (viewer's) left eye that might look like white on the screen, but they aren't that light in real life. In the right eye there are highlights. In the real painting the eyes match in size. I think this scan skewed things a bit.

Anyway, she just accepted it (yay) so I'm shipping tomorrow... whew! If you want to see the progress shots, go to http://www.deborahchristensen.homestead.com/molly.html (http://) and use the password molly to get in. I'll probably close that page tomorrow or Saturday, so go soon if you want to see it. I put it together for my students to look at.

Thanks for all your comments.

12-18-2003, 09:28 PM
Congratulations!!! Ship ol Molly away and give yourself a huge pat on the back. I just have to say I love those curls and that cute expression!!



12-19-2003, 07:39 AM
ooh....am getting my new pup tomorrow and so am looking at all dog portraits I can find! Who knows I might try one myself one day! (yeah.....rright....:D)

This is so cute. Well done and congrats on the success. Lovely pic. Very woolly.

12-19-2003, 07:50 AM
Molly looks perfect to me! :clap:

12-21-2003, 07:13 PM
Incredibly gorgeous! I love the way you handled the fur! And those colors!!! Looks like a seashell.


12-22-2003, 07:54 AM
Sorry Dee,
Coming in too late here . . . . just wanted to make one small comment on the choice of commission . . . AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

This is waaaaaaaaaaaay too hard . . I wouldn't cope!! . . . congrats on a successful commission!!! . . . .