Pet Photography Tips for Portraits

Many of my clients have a favourite photo in mind when they contact me to enquire about a portrait and nowadays more often than not, that photo tends to be on a smartphone. Your camera phone is a brilliant tool for capturing instant, playful images that can work perfectly as a drawing.

I tend to use my digital SLR camera if I’m asked to take photos for clients, so I thought I would list a few of my top tips here to help you take better photos of your pets. The principles are very much the same for your smart phone camera so I hope you find them helpful.

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Pet Portrait – Bailey

I really enjoy drawing people’s dogs. The whole process: From the initial contact of someone asking me, to the photos they send. From my emails showing the development stages of my drawing, to the wrapping and posting and the anticipation of the client receiving it.

I put a lot of work in, and I care about what I do. I use acid free pastel paper, tape and mount-board and artist quality materials. I use about 20 colours in soft pastels and pastel pencils. It can take between 10 and 20 hours to create a portrait. During which time I drink tea and sing to the radio in my studio and delight in having the opportunity to create something special for someone.

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My Song


I’m not so very good at yelling about the products I’m designing and selling
I hope this poem improves that skill it’s my ‘John Lewis advert’, if you will

I’m an artist that draws things that people might like from my garden studio on the Isle Of Wight
Then I work with suppliers within the UK to create unique products to brighten your day

I paint and I print, I design and I draw. I wrap, pack and post so things come to your door
You can visit my shop if you like what I do, or commission a portrait designed just for you

I create bespoke artwork for clients worldwide, I teach drawing workshops that encourage and guide
There’s no piano or Elton, I don’t have the budget. But if you visit my website I hope you’ll still love it

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Practice, practice, practice

I’ve recently finished a new still-life painting and when I’d finished it, it rung a bell.

I’m pretty sure I’ve painted a starfish before.

I went back through some of my old work and, sure enough, there it was. One starfish on a coloured background with a couple of shells thrown in for good measure. I painted the first version in 2013 at an oil painting course at West Dean College.

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Sketching ideas: Lemons and Limes

In all kinds of drawing, be it still-life, landscapes or portraits it’s a really useful exercise to look at elements of your composition in relation to each other.

By observing the objects you draw and looking at their relationships to each other you start to think about the accuracy of your picture as a whole.

Is one of your objects taller, wider, in-front or behind another?

Where does the light come from? Where are your shadows falling?

Here’s a few step-by-step photos of a still-life study of lemons and limes. I used my Moleskine sketchbook, a 2B pencil for roughing out the shapes, a 4B pencil for adding shadows and definition, a blending stump and rubber.

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Commission Questions

I love creating artwork that is personal and meaningful to my customers and what better way to do that than draw from your favourite photos. But how do you go about it? What’s the best kind of photo, how long does it take, how much does it cost? The questions and answers below cover materials, sizes, process and prices. If you’d like to know anything else then drop me an email or visit my facebook page to find out more.

I would love a portrait of my pet, I’ve seen your work and love what you do. Could you tell me a bit more about the process involved and how much it would cost?

Of course! I’m Beth, I’m a UK-based artist, illustrator and print-maker. I think that custom portraits make wonderful keepsakes and really thoughtful gifts. It’s such a privilege to create personal and original portraits for so many clients that are perfect for all kinds of occasions. I specialise in dogs and horses.

I love working in soft, colour pastels on Murano toned pastel paper. I use acid-free artist quality materials that will last. The colours are rich and blend beautifully. I also work in graphite or charcoal for a monochromatic look or oil or acrylic paints onto canvas panels.

I draw, or paint each artwork by hand from photos that you provide. I love to focus on the subject, using a variety of colours to bring them to life. I would say that A4 portraits take me between 10 – 14 hours to do. Larger works take longer and paintings take longer still, as I have to wait for paint layers to dry between applications.


What do you need to get started?

I need a great, clear, good quality photo to work from. One that makes you smile when you look at it. I would recommend a photo where you are looking at your pet at eye level, it makes for a really engaging portrait. If you’d like me to help with your photo selection you can email them through to me and I will be happy to advise.

What happens next?

I’ll do a preliminary sketch of your chosen photo and email it to you. This isn’t the final image, it’s a way for me to capture your photo and any thoughts you may have so we can agree on the concept before I make a start on your final artwork.

I work in different sizes (see table below in ‘Beth, how much does it cost?’) so let me know which portrait size you would like. I will email you an invoice that confirms the photo we’re using, the size and the price. I ask for a 25% deposit at this stage, so I can get all relevant materials and book you into my diary. This is payable through PayPal or Bank Transfer.

Once we’ve agreed the photo to use and your deposit has arrived I will make a start on your custom artwork and keep you up-to-date with its progress by email.

How long does it take?

I say the whole process usually takes about 2/3 weeks, but if you need it for a particular time, please ask. I will always try to re-prioritise to meet your date if I can.

Sounds good! When do I get to see the finished piece?

When I’m near completion I’ll send you a photo of the portrait for your approval. I check the details of where you would like it delivered (it requires a signature, so you may want me to send it to a work address) and this is when I ask for the balance of the payment, prior to dispatch.


How do you send it to me?

For all pastel, graphite or charcoal work I hand-cut a mount and backing board and wrap it in a crystal clear cello wrap to protect the pastel. It helps to keep the picture flat. It also finishes it off nicely if you are giving it as a present.

Then I wrap your artwork with foam board and bubble wrap to protect it on its journey. I send all artwork by Royal Mail Special Delivery, which is an insured service and will require a signature on receipt.

Beth, how much does it cost?

All prices detailed below include p&p to the UK. They are valid up to January 2022. All pastel and pencil artwork comes in a hand-cut mount and is unframed.

Pastel/Graphite portraits 2020/1

PETS A4 10″ x 10″ 12″ x 12″
1 £160.00 £220.00 £285.00
2 £295.00 £350.00
3 £365.00 £450.00

Painted portraits 2020

Painted canvas work starts at £350 for a 40cm x 40cm 1 pet original in oil paints on a stretched canvas panel ready to hang (unframed).  I can quote for specific size requirements or more pets. Please get in touch for more details

That’s great, thank you. If I have any further questions can I get in touch?

Of course you can, at any point in the process! You can message me on my Facebook Page if that suits you best, or my email is and I will always answer within 24 hours. Please also feel free to check out the gallery where you can see examples of my work.




Baking and Making

Last week in my Drawing Group I wanted to look at drawing ‘Self-Portraits’. It’s a challenging subject so I decided to make a ‘Gin and Lime’ cake to sweeten the deal for the class.

I’m not a cake-maker or baker (or good cook if I’m brutally honest). But I had a go. And the art group rewarded me by a) eating the cake and b) having a go themselves, at the task of drawing their portraits.

And that’s when it struck me: Baking is a bit like Drawing.

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Island Life

May 2018

It’s been nearly a year since we moved over to the Isle of Wight from the mainland.

We’ve kept busy in that time. We’ve sold a car and bought a kitchen. We’ve learned about the ‘quirky’ nature of 120 year old houses. We’ve experienced our first Cowes week and ‘Round The Island Race’. It snowed. Twice. We’ve discovered that our new Island modes of transport are buses, boats and catamarans, Floating Bridges and ferries. And our feet. We walk, constantly, and are always delighted to end up at the waterside.

When you place an order in my Etsy shop it will always travel across the Solent on a ferry to start it’s journey to you. And I think there’s something wonderfully romantic in that.

Round The Island Race 2018

Round The Island Race 2018. (c) Bethany Moore 2018