How Do I ACTUALLY Make My Dog Paintings? The Nitty-Gritty about my Tools & Techniques.

How Do You Actually Make Your Dog Paintings?  is a question I’m asked from time to time.  I’m always happy to chat through my portrait process, but here’s a post that goes a little bit deeper into the techniques I employ.

How I actually make my dog portrait paintings?  By Samantha Barnes Artist, ipaintdogs.com

In October 2017 I did an online course with a lady from Texas.  Sadly the course is no longer but it was an 8hr intensive, shot on video and filmed in the early 90’s. It was quite something and this course quite literally changed my life. I paid about £45 and had to download the lot, using up pretty much the entire memory of my computer, I had no idea what to expect!

Sadly I can’t now find the course, or the lady’s name - she was fantastic.  She had lots of BIG wafty hair and wore a denim shirt complete with dogs all over it - I completed the course in 30 min sections, it was pretty intense and quite mathematic too - lots of measuring occurred in each section.

During this course we looked all ALL the techniques employed by portrait painters - both animal and human.  We learned about measuring via your thumb, arm extended and one eye closed, working from eye - this technique I learned at art school many years ago, but it was good to revisit it point-by-point again.

Secondly I learned about using a Pantograph.  I bet you used to play with one of these when you were a child.  They are fantastic and look like something Leonardo Da Vinci may have used - essentially this is a scaling up tool, tracing around an image with a point, leaving a mark on the paper as you trace.  This is a great tool for getting perfect measurements, the key is to avoid such mistakes as the paper moving as you draw.

Thirdly, the projection also known as Oblique Projection method.  This is a fabulous method, assuming you have one.  An OHP is really helpful when working from photographs of faces.

Fourth up is the Grid Method.  This is where your canvas or paper is gridded up ridgedly - no room for mistakes on this one.  The Grid Method works by gridding your images and your canvas, working block by block you gain your drawing in accordance to scale.

So which do I use?  Well, I use them all.  Different dogs are best represented using different methods.  Sometimes I use my Pantograph, other times by eye. The projection method is brilliant to use at the end of drawing my canvas, to be 100% sure that I have my scale completely on point.

Once I have my drawing, I arrive at using paint - for me, this is one THE BEST bit of making my painting.  I absolutely love it. I come to my canvas with super loose sloshes of thick paint - the difference here is just delicious to see: - the simply mix of seeingmy rigid, strictly - drawn, painstakingly perfect drawing, meet loose brushes - the juxtaposition here is lovely to see - in fact I should video it.

When I’ve applied my first layer of paint onto the canvas and you can no longer see much line, it’s at this point that I send out my ‘NOT FINISHED YET’ email to the dog’s owner.

My painting then sits on my studio wall for about 3 days, to make sure that I am happy with the composition (placement on the canvas) and that the painting is going to work for me.    Sometimes, it’s at this point that I stop, paint over the drawing and canvas and go again completely.  If I’m not 150% happy, the owner will never see it.

Our painting at this point is about 55% percent finished.   In the next blog post, you can read more about how my paintings come together from this point.  

With love and of course, if you have any questions - pop them in the comments below and I’d be delighted to answer them.

Best wishes, Samantha


About Samantha

Samantha Barnes is ipaintdogs.com  Pet portraits

Sam is a practicing artist of 25yrs with a deep love of dogs.  Her drawings, paintings and prints are exhibited in galleries throughout the country.  In 2017 she painted her dog Barney and clients began to ask for bespoke portraits of their own best friends.  Since then, Sam has successfully painted many personalised commissions and sends her dog paintings all over the world.  

She has a stand-alone testimonial page on Trustpilot and is proud to support charities & auctions too.

To talk about having your own dog painted or to give as a gift, email Sam on info@samanthabarnes.co.uk today.