OK, I fully admit I have a soft spot in my heart for small dogs in particular…but this pair of larger dogs totally captured my heart, too.
This was another portrait commission that came out of the r/AccidentalWesAnderson subreddit post my husband made. Mabel’s and Abby’s dad, Wayne, emailed me to see if I could draw his dogs as a surprise for his wife. He describes Mabel as a big clumsy dog that’s scared of the world and Abby as an angsty teenager.
Wayne left it up to me to create concepts to tell the stories of their personalities. For Mabel, since she’s scared of the world, I combined a scared expression with a butterfly on her nose to represent something non-threatening that she’d be unnecessarily afraid of. The floral border is inspired by lilies, which is a flower that symbolizes humility and devotion. To me this suggests an innocence that resonates with the description of her being big and clumsy + scared of the world, as well as the devotion of a dog. Her size in relation to the frame and name banner suggests that idea of being big and awkward.
For Abby, I used the description of being an angsty teenager to incorporate elements associated with an angsty teen: headphones so they can tune out the world that doesn’t understand them, and dried up roses that suggest sensitivity while being a bit edgy. Her expression is a cross between pained and apathetic. Anyone else thinking of the movie Say Anything right now??
I knew that for Abby I wanted to go with darker colors to fit with her angsty disposition. So to contrast with that and be in keeping with the butterfly and lilies, Mabel’s color palette is more soft and innocent.
One of my favorite parts of making these portraits is working with the eyes and eyebrows to capture the right expression. There’s so much potential there! And that moment when I add the white highlights in the eyes is just the icing on the cake.
After a few weeks of shipping the portraits to Wayne, I asked if he’d given them to his wife yet. I didn’t want to post about them and accidentally spoil the surprise. But he said he couldn’t wait until her birthday to give them to her — which is what happened when Libbie ordered portraits of her dogs Scout and Tuck. I think that’s about the best compliment. Thank you to Wayne for allowing me to create portraits of these special girls!