Last fall my friend, Libbie, saw one of my Instagram posts of Dachshund illustrations and asked if I could draw portraits of her two dogs as a Christmas gift to her wife, Lindsay.
She wanted capture them in a quirky way and had fantastic concepts in mind. For Scout, their black and white hound mix with adorable spots, she wanted to reflect his aloofness by portraying him as a Frenchman with a beret and cigarette hanging out of his mouth. And for Tuck, their dark brown hound with sweet eyes, she wanted to feature a bib around his neck to reflect his food-motivated personality.
She was also hoping to include floral edging around the dogs with their names below, to frame them nicely on the paper. And with the quirky approach she was after, I recommended using hand-drawn techniques, with evidence of the imperfections and personality of the materials showing through rather than the digital look (which is more smooth and polished).
I hadn’t met her dogs before, so I loved seeing the photos she sent! I also asked if she had any favorite plants or flowers that I could consider for the frame.
To get started, I made sure we were on the same page with approach by creating initial sketches based on her concepts and photos.
Libbie loved the sketches and requested that I make the floral frame in a style like one of my watercolor wreaths that she spotted on my Instagram feed:
I remembered to take a few progress photos…that’s something I really want to do more of, but it’s so hard to remember!
I’m so happy with how the final portraits turned out. They’re made with colored pencil (all of the little fur details drawn stroke by stroke), with watercolor and gouache for the floral frame and banner. I used accent colors that would coordinate with the area of the house she wanted to hang them.
And the best part: she was thrilled with them and couldn’t wait until Christmas to give them to her wife. Who picked right up on all of the details that we had worked so hard to include. It was an amazing project and I hope to do a lot more artwork like this!
“I love them so so much!! Gah. I’m literally so in love with these. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Oh, and the best, best part! Lindsay pointed out an influence of Wes Anderson in them, whose classic-yet-quirky style I find so inspiring.
If you’d like to chat about a custom portrait of your dog, you can fill out this form: