This is a canine portrait of Chilli, a heavenly springer spaniel dog belonging to very great friends of mine. It was commissioned for a surprise 50th birthday present.
I was forewarned that Chilli is not fond of the camera so made sure we did as much decision-making as possible before bringing my camera out. But it transpired that to call her camera-shy was an understatement. As soon as she saw the camera – even with all sounds turned off – she resolutely turned her head away from it, in the paparazzi-weary fashion of a celebrity, and would have bolted for home had it not been for her owner holding her into place.
It took quite a lot of food bribery and diversion tactics from Charlotte (no mean feat as she was also holding onto her to stop her making for freedom) and quick work from me to get the photograph we needed. The dog’s markings are particularly pretty from this side and we needed her to be in profile, looking up at her imaginary master eagerly but avoiding the rather anxious look that was present in quite a lot of the shots.
They say never work with children or animals which makes me a glutton for punishment. But canine portraiture is one of my favourite types of commission. It is every bit as challenging as painting a person as it has to embody the essence of your animal as well as the physical likeness.
See more examples of my portraits of animals here