Creative control is a funny thing. Sure, as pet owners we have maybe an idea in our head of what kind of portrait we like, how we see our pet, but the reality is that you choose your pet portrait artist based on their eye, their inventive style, and their creativity.
I think I threw Jennie Taylor for a bit of a loop when I said this. Surely, that's not always been my style: I used to want to have a great deal more creative control over Merry's painted dog portraits. But the longer I spend reviewing this type of work, the more I realize that the best way to get an amazing result from an artist is to allow them as much creative freedom as possible.
I know what my dog looks like, and I have hundreds of photos (okay, hundreds of thousands to be accurate, but you all know I'm a weirdo) of her. What I want from a pet portrait is something I can't see with my eye or my camera - something that can only be seen by the artist herself, that little bit of her that makes the art incredible and personal and an expression of my dog, not an exact replica.
So that's what I told Jennie when we started negotiating this portrait. Yes, she's much more used to working with clients who would like more control with regards to style, shape, color... and she's happy to do so. But I wanted the best of her, the kind that can truly come out when she's given artistic freedom to create something magical. I approved the photo to be used - it's the 4th image on the right - and beyond that, I let her try whatever she felt would work best.
Normally, once she's figured out the final image but before she's painted it, she'll submit a digital mockup to you, the customer - to make sure everyone's on the same page. This is particularly true if she needs to place the pet from one photo into the background of another. Since she decided to take my photo and use it on its own without putting in any other touches, that step wasn't necessary. It fast-tracked me to the part where I got to see photos the finished product!
Based on what she returned to me just a week or two later, my instincts are right on the money. The portrait is amazing and has already become one of my absolute favorite portraits of Merry.
Normally, Jennie paints a tighter-cropped, more "photo-realistic" pet portrait - and will happily do so for future customers. But with the creative control I gave her, she decided to paint in a different style altogether - one she uses for her own artistic endeavors. And the melting, impressionistic view of Merry just feels exactly right.
The colors are wonderful, and such a departure for Merry portraits, which (and I'm as guilty as the artists, for asking for it) usually features pink - the blue is cool, elegant, and slightly modern.
It feels like the difference between owning a real work of art, starring your pet... and a pet portrait. See the difference?
The painting came on gallery wrapped canvas so it was ready to hang, and is painted with oils. And it's just so gorgeous - and difficult to photograph well! - that it will be a treasured keepsake for the rest of my life. Truly.
I can't recommend Jennie highly enough to you - if you're trying to decide on whether you'd like a portrait of your pet, this is the lady to call. And if you're willing to be brave - which again, I highly recommend - give her the freedom to paint something amazing. It will totally be worth it.
You can find out more about Jennie Taylor from her web site at www.jenniepaintsyourpet.com.