Custom portrait of Devine Danny.

Hand painted custom portrait of Danny the Rescue Greyhound resting on a shaggy rug and gold and brown impressionistic background. Painted from photos by Australian pet portrait artist Opal Pastro

Hand painted custom portrait of Danny the Rescue Greyhound resting on a shaggy rug and gold and brown impressionistic background. Painted from photos by Australian pet portrait artist Opal Pastro

I’ve been wanting to paint a greyhound for a long time. They are such noble dogs with beauty and poise. I love their gentle calm manner and admire their strong, lean, muscular physique. Danny is no exception. When my studio hound/ photography assistant and I arrived at Danny’s gate for his photo shoot, he greeted us warmly with a wagging tail . For Layla he offered a friendly tail sniff, and for me, his head to pat

After the formal greetings had been carried out, and we were being introduced to the cat and Lucian the rooster, he resumed his position on his bed.

While Danny’s Mum and I were having a cuppa and planning Danny’s portrait, he changed locations and reclined on the luxurious shag pile rug in the lounge room. The sun was beaming in through the window behind him causing beautiful horizon of light over his spine. For some reason, I had forgotten my SLR (some photographer hey?) so it was left up to my iPhone SE to take the shot. Not great, I’ll admit, but it turns out that that first snap was the one I decided to go with for his custom portrait.

Reference photo used for Danny’s custom dog portrait using iPhone SE by Opal Pastro Art

Reference photo used for Danny’s custom dog portrait using iPhone SE by Opal Pastro Art

Danny the Greyhound modelling for his custom portrait with Mum and Lucian the Rooster. Photographed by Opal Pastro

Danny the Greyhound modelling for his custom portrait with Mum and Lucian the Rooster. Photographed by Opal Pastro

Throughout the painting process, I get a feeling for the animal I am portraying and I instinctively paint their portrait to capture their essence.

I was a bit hesitant at the beginning of painting Danny. I was being gentle with my paint applications, using colour washes intially, building the layers up gently.

This was my seventh painting using my new Golden Open Acrylic paints and I’m still learning how to apply the paint confidently. When I paint with oils, I like to apply thin washes to build up colour and form. I find this technique doesn’t work so well with the Opens, as they tend to dry on the palette, and I cant get the smooth blended look as easily. Even using a wet palette, it is a struggle trying to paint delicately.

I originally planned for the background to be predominantly white, to contrast with Danny’s dark grey coat. When I got to this point I realised that it lacked interest and was - well- cold and boring. Gentle and nice, but it wasn’t honoring Danny as I wanted it to.

Adding the dark brown back ground with a halo of golden light made a huge improvement as is illustrated in the slide show above, but I was feeling the need to experiment. I started playing with colour marks with my trusty flat brush.

I’m happy with the result as the dappled background with splashes of gentle colour give the portrait some visual interest and also may convey Danny’s joyful life after a truly frightful past in the Greyhound Racing industry.