In February of this year I had the pleasure of personally delivering a commissioned portrait to my customers. Often, if the customer lives within an hour's driving distance it is more convenient and economical to make the trip and hand deliver it rather than packaging it and sending it via mail, especially if it is a large piece. The bonus of personally delivering a commissioned portrait is I get to witness the joy on the people's faces when they see their painting in person for the fist time.
Such was the case when I delivered Ike's portrait to his owners, Ashley and Scott. Ashley's face brimmed with excitement. She was so touched by how the portrait captured both his likeness and spirit, tears shone in her eyes. This special delivery was well worth the wait.
Originally Ike's portrait was commissioned as a birthday present for Ashley. It turned out to be the most challenging commission I had to date. Ashley's family are return customers who had supported my pet portrait endeavors back when I was in high school. A few years after I graduated from University of Washington Ashley's mom tracked me down to commission a portrait of Ashley's beloved French Bulldog Gigi as a surprise present. The painting exceeded all expectations, Ashley loved it. A few more years down the road, Ike, a fawn colored French Bulldog, joined the family and it was turn for his portrait to make a timely and timeless present for Ashley.
Unlike Gigi's portrait, which was a surprise, Ike's portrait needed much planning and consideration because it was intended to be a pair to the first one. His pose, the lighting had to be very specific; just any random picture won't do. Ashley also wanted to incorporate wine grape vines into the background because of her fond memories living in the wine country of Washington state. Those, and many other challenges during the process delayed the portrait well past the deadline; I was immensely grateful for my customers' patience. In the end, even being a belayed birthday present, Ike's portrait had made Ashley's day. And it makes my day to witness the happiness my art brings to others.
Below is a slide show of the progress of Ike's portrait, from selecting reference photos to integrating grapevines into the picture and getting the right composition, from color sketch to different stages of work on the final painting.