If there is one secret to a truly great pet portrait, it is getting the eyes right, why is this so?
The answer is all down to our unique relationship with animals and the way human beings function, an oil painting is a visual feast for the viewer, there are so many features to appreciate, ranging from the sublime details of colour and lighting and shading, together with less obvious such as depth, background and saturation.
But the real secret is that an oil painting should evoke our innermost feelings and emotions, and that is what distinguishes it from the average photograph or polaroid image, the true beauty of a great oil painting is in capturing the heart and essence of the pet, it's innate sense of calm and regality, the true hallmarks of great pet portrait.
The eyes are normally the first feature which we notice, they convey emotional state, character and the intrinsic personality, open of the "tricks of the trade" our artist utilise, is to give the iris more colour and depth than might be true in reality, the effect is really subtle to be as almost unnoticeable, the eyes may also be made slightly larger than is the case in reality, again the change is almost imperceptible, check out this drawing below and compare it to the photo, can you see the left eye has actually been pointed forward so you can gaze into it's sweet eyes? on the photo you could not see the eye properly, if this had been drawn into the picture then the viewer would have had less connection with their pet, any emotional distancing is not good, and so the artist reconfigured the eye whilst still keeping the naturalistic expression of the dog in pose.
Now here is the drawing below
Can you see the eyes of this dog, what does it tell you?