More Than Friends
Nearly every one of us has had a pet in our lives that was more than just a pet.
They were friends, playmates, consolers – a part of the family. For anyone with a treasured furry friend, past or present, those photo keepsakes we keep on our phones and hard drives just aren’t enough. These rebel-rousers are members of the family after all, and as such, they deserve their own place on the mantle right along with bipedal friends and loved ones.
Based in Galway, wildlife artist Lorraine Fletcher has been producing vibrant pet portrait commissions for more than a decade. “I have always loved animals. We always had pets when I was growing up and I remember wanting to become a vet. But the creative gene was very much there and won that battle.” With a life-long love for animals and an abundance of creative drive, this wildlife artist brought her sketchpad, canvas, and paints to the domestic realm, creating custom commissioned pet portraits that capture the treasured place they hold in our homes and our hearts.
The process that Lorraine follows for any pet portrait commission is straightforward. To begin, clients provide a clear, in-focus, high-quality image to use as a reference for the portrait. “From photographs, I have time. And I can add my own twist from a realistic image.”
An initial consultation with the client helps the artist to learn about the animal’s personality, their energy. “I find out what they are looking for in a painting of their pet.” In this consultation, Lorraine also listens to what the client wants in their painting – the requirements, a timeframe (typically 3-4 weeks, depending), and the size of the piece. These essential details are just what Lorraine needs to bring subjects to life in her pet portraits. Once canvas gets involved, Lorraine sketches the selected image with watercolour pencils, which blend well tonally with acrylic paints, on canvas. Then it’s off to the races.
Each project, each client, and each subject are unique. Most pieces are painted in contrast to a solid background. In the artist’s words, “this allows the viewer to focus solely on the animal. There is no distraction.” The muted background also serves to highlight Lorraine’s intuitive use of bright coral tones and soft pastels – pinks, orange, and turquoise – to bring out the humanity, the vibrance, and energy of her subjects. These ‘true-to-the-eye’ colour schemes create distinct pieces that set her apart from pet portrait artists that are more constrained by objective realism. Her imaginative colour choices add life – capturing something even more honest with a modern take on the imagery.
A commissioned pet portrait by professional wildlife artist Lorraine Fletcher begins with still photos and uses a generous splash of colour and creativity to add movement, life, texture, and personality to each piece. Especially for those who have recently lost a pet, these works can trigger fond memories and temper the pain of loss. “From experience, and as an owner of my own beloved pet collie, pet portraits are the perfect gift for someone who has lost a pet, or as an everlasting reminder of that special furbaby.”
Beyond the obvious truth – and if Instagram posts and youtube videos are reliable indicators – people love pet pics. Lorraine’s unique and modern take on such a personalised albeit saturated artistic medium makes her work unique. These pet portraits are a wonderful reminder – for yourself, as consolation for someone who’s recently lost a friend, or even as a keepsake in your office to remind you of your furry pal at home. Visit Lorraine’s website to view more of her work, gather info about pet portrait commissions, order your own prints, and find out about upcoming exhibitions.