Many people requesting pet portrait commissions do so to create a lasting memory of a much loved pet who was integral to the family unit. A typical portrait comprises the pet's head and shoulders with a simple background. This is what most pet portrait artists quote for and it's what the majority of people request.
There are some folk who request a small element of personalisation, such as including a name tag or a favourite toy. It creates more of a link with the pet and adds a bit of interest.
And then there are the rare few who really go to town and, from my perspective, allow me to be more creative, making my job more interesting and enjoyable. This was precisely the case with Jasper the ginger tom.
To start with, there were only a very few photos of Jasper and none was perfect for detailed portrait work. Fine, that happens and I can often improvise if necessary. But there was more to come. The task I was given was to portray Jasper sitting in an impressionistic wild flower meadow with two magpies sitting on a fence looking at him. Oh, and there were to be some orange flowers in the meadow too. Now, there are some who might cringe at such a detailed request, but I couldn't wait to get started. Jasper had clearly been a very special cat. This was going to be fun!
So, after trying out a few sketches to settle on a composition, it was decided that the magpies should be sitting on something other than a fence in order to manage issues with perspective and only having a small space to work within. I also needed to straighten a wayward ear and open up squinting eyes ...... artistic licence!
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was given my brief and left to interpret it as I saw fit. What a joy! And below is the end result: Jasper in a very busy wildflower meadow, with magpies looking on. I went way beyond what I'd originally intended, but the specifics of the brief are what made Jasper's portrait so special to my client. I'd relish more commissions like this.
Thanks and respect to Mr M, my client :)