30 in 30: Day 16 "Zoey" Pet Portrait + Process Photos

pet portrait commissioned painting by amira rahim Hey guys! Today it rained in Abu Dhabi and stormed with hail in other parts. It's been a gray, cloudy day, and I'm not complaining. I decided to spend my day indoors and get to some of the commissions ahead of me. This is of a sweet dog named Zoey who passed away recently. She was a joy to paint. I loved capturing her coat and sweet nature. I had many photos to choose from, but thought this captured her in a simple, but pretty light.

I decided to capture the process and share it with you, so here it goes:

This was the reference photo. After a few sketches and composition options, I decided the zoomed in crop of her face and collar would be best.

After working out the drawing in pencil, I then went over it in black gresso, bringing in the basic shapes and shadows that would define the painting.

Since the owner wanted a fairly realistic rendition of Zoey, I knew I wouldn't be using much color in this piece. So, I decided to tone the canvas in magenta. It makes for a nice graphic effect against black and white, and it is feminine, which can reflect the dog's sex.

I used Paynes grey, titanium white, raw umber, and indian red for most of the fur and features. I also decided to lift some of the highlighted areas with a little cerulean blue.

Propped my iPad up on the easel for most of the painting. As you can see, I painted from the photograph without any editing or fiddling. Just dove right in. I really need to invest in an iPad stand since I use my iPad so much in the studio!

I'm happy with how well the portrait came out. I don't typically paint dogs or cats, but some are just adorable and this girl was no exception. The final portrait moved the original owner to tears, so I can say, my job here is done. All on a rainy day's work!

Random Thoughts/Affirmations

"Birch Trees" - Watercolor study on paper
"Birch Trees" - Watercolor study on paper

You know, I'm realizing more and more that sometimes we don't give ourselves enough credit.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, when she said something that I know logically, but neglect to keep it in mind these days and that is that: Art is subjective.

Three words. One truth. A very simple truth. Spoken from one creative mind to another. And yet, it is so profound in these crucial days of my artist journey.

I am about to embark on a new path. A shift in thinking about my work and my goals. A dive into reality, while merging a bridge between my passion of painting and my needs as any other artist/creative.

Most prolific is my need to share the beauty I see everyday--tiny people against tall buildings, the way the light hits a collection of bell peppers from the grocery store--and attempt to capture that in my work.

This need to share can only be enhanced through discipline, endurance, and hopefully, pronounced acceptance by my viewers, old and new to come, hopefully manifesting in the form of purchases. After all, art is an expensive hobby.

So, art is subjective.

And yet I am stifled by my very normal, but very loud, fears of producing "wrong art."

After years of defining my intelligence through numbers and grades, it's hard to shift into my right brain not just on the canvas, but in my being, in my right to exist.

There is no monopoly on beauty, expression, charm. Why then do I fear there's this monopoly on art?

So, here are some affirmations. I wish I could say they were daily but life is full of inconsistencies:

  • First things first, I am a painter. I have been painting since the age of 14. Ten years later and with few classes in between, I am a very good painter. I didn't get worse. Contrary to the bad voices in my head.
  • I have an eye for good art. This helps me in evaluating my own work, often times, too critically. Bottom line: I know when something sucks. I know when something can use more work. And I know when something's genius.
  • I have a good sense of color. I love color. I dream in color.
  • I can draw like nobody's business, which translates into better, more accurate compositions when I paint.
  • I am incredibly self-effacing and I ought not to be.
  • I am a really fast learner.
  • I can do this. And dammit, I will.

I've been so worried about getting it wrong, when all along, there's more than one way to get it right.

And it's okay to be awesome.

"Friday Prayer" - Watercolor on paper (2013)
"Friday Prayer" - Watercolor on paper (2013)