Kirby Pet Portrait Commission

Kirby Pet Portrait Commission
8×10 oil on canvas “Kirby”


I put off painting this painting longer than I probably should have. I was very intimidated to work from a dark, out of focus and grainy cell phone photo. My mother-in-law took the photo of Kirby the day before he died and specifically requested that I use that photo and keep it dark and moody. It has a ton of sentimental value to her, so there was no other option other than making it work.

Once I finally did start painting, it initially came together very quickly. It hit a snag when it was mostly done though. I stared at it for a week knowing it wasn’t done but not knowing how to finish it. I ended up posting it to an artist Facebook group asking for help and got some encouragement, but not any specific help. I eventually asked my husband for a critique. He got all serious and asked me if I was sure I wanted an honest critique. I had to remind him that I always want his honest critiques even if they’re harsh. He made it sound like he was going to be super critical; like the ear looked like was sprouting out of the snout and I hadn’t noticed or something. It ended up being a really good conversation that led me to see what need to be done. No glaring errors on my part.

All of this got me thinking. Am I in a bubble? I think my work is good, but I get so little quality input from other artists that I wonder if it actually is good. I’ve asked for critiques online many times, but never get much out of it. Is a good critique only possible in person with specific people? Is the back and forth dialogue necessary to work out the problem?

I’m probably over thinking it.

Anyway, before applying the varnish, I showed the painting to my mother-in-law for approval. She loved it of course and promptly requested a portrait of her new puppy, Ginger. I then attempted to take some pictures while she was bouncing around like crazy. Older dogs are definitely easier to photograph.

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