Painting Pet Portraits and Memorials


Pet memorials and custom pet portraits have always been some of my most sought after products – I love painting them, as I find that I build up a close connection with the dog or cat (or pony) who is being memorialised.  So many are given as gifts to grieving owners and it’s lovely to hear back that the memorial has rejuvenated happy memories and given comfort.

The very first pet memorial I ever painted was for Brian, the large marmalade cat below.  I was in the middle of painting a garden lantern for his owner when she contacted me to say that her cat had passed – and so would it be possible to have something painted in his memory and add it to the order?  Brian had always been a “happy in the garden” cat, so I wanted to include lots of brightly coloured cheerful flowers – and chose to surround Brian with them in the style of a wreath

SO many different dogs and cats have been painted since then – and you can find a selection of them at the bottom of this blog.

But here I wanted to show you how the portrait is built up gradually, using many different layers of paint.  I remembered to photograph the different stages of a recent memorial for “beloved Chandler”, which has since travelled off to Texas, USA.

First of all I choose a photograph from those that the customer has sent to me.  The quality of the photo plays a large part in the success of the portrait – and this one of Chandler was just perfect!

I then paint an outline of the full design onto the glass, using Vitrail outliner paint which hardens to provide a thin raised edge – very useful for controlling the coverage of the glass paint.

Once the outline has fully dried, the first layer of paint goes on – in this case it’s a rich yellow gold.  Leave to dry for 12 hours……..

Next comes orange – which acts as a “shadow”, adding extra depth & richness to the gold areas.  Another 12 hours drying time……..

As you can see, other colours are being added to the flowers – but we’re concentrating on Chandler here!

Next comes black, just to accent the eyes and nose

After that come two lots of brown, one light and one dark.  With, of course, 12 hours of drying time between the two colours……  As they go on, you can see Chandler’s personality really taking shape.

And the last colour to be added is white – white is always the last colour, as it takes even longer to dry than all the other colours and it has a nasty tendency to suck up other colours if it hasn’t dried 200% 

So all the paint is now on & Chandler is looking very like himself – but just a little ragged and unfinished.

This is where I use Vitrail outliners once again to pick out and highlight his features.  The gold, silver and copper outliners catch any light and shine, even if there is no bright sunshine around.

And finally the memorial is complete – the outliners have made Chandler stand out amongst the flowers and have given him the character he so clearly showed in his photo.

He should be arriving in Texas round about now and I hope that his owner is pleased with the likeness

And here, as promised, are a selection of the different memorials I have painted over the years

If you would like to commission a memorial for your own pet or else a sympathy gift for a friend or family member, then you can find all my pet memorials here in the shop

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