Jake is a Yellow Lab who lives in Portland, Oregon. He’s almost twelve, but has the personality of a puppy.
When I was scheduling a date to take photos to use as reference to paint his portrait, Vonnie, his owner, wrote, “Can we meet at a park? That’s usually where he has that big, ear-to-ear smile going which I love so much!”
We met on a Sunday morning at an off-leash dog park along the Willamette River. I took over 100 photos. Jake sitting. Jake running. Jake chasing his ball. Jake looking bored. Jake jumping in the river to get his tennis ball.
That’s Jake with Vonnie (his mom) and his pal Jessie.
I went through all the photos, and tossed out most of them. But there were a few nice shots of Jake in the classic stoic Lab pose. I really liked the shots of Jake facing me head-on with his tongue out and that big smile – and Vonnie had mentioned how much she loved Jake’s ear-to-ear grin.
Once I chose the pose for the painting, I wrote to Vonnie, “Let me know if you like this pose too and I’ll transfer the line art, and then paint it. I’m going to use a light touch. Not too much pen and ink, since Jake’s not a dark dog . . . I’ll do mostly watercolor. The finished painting will be 8 x 12″ or so.” (It turned out to be closer to 11 x 14″ or almost life size).
Here is the preliminary pencil sketch. I sent it to Vonnie for her approval and any necessary tweaks. She wrote back right away, “Karl! That is beautiful! Although, i do like his stoic look, i do love it when he has the ear-to-ear smile! I can’t wait to see the finished project . . . i just know i will cry ♥”
And so I proceeded. Here is the watercolor about completed.
And finally finished.
I sent the painting off to Vonnie and she wrote, “I totally love the portrait! It is totally Jake and I actually made it into my desktop picture, And the more I look at it, the more it makes me smile because it is . . . him. The amazing thing about your work is that it almost looks like a photograph and it’s not!”