The Process

Pet portraits are custom pieces of art. I work from your photo, which is a key component of capturing the spirit of your pet. Reference photos need to be clear and in-focus. Some tips for taking good reference photos and some examples are below.

Once you have decided to commission a portrait, the first step is to provide me with a clear reference photo (more on this below).  A contract is written up outlining the details and size of the piece, as well as the total price including shipping, and an estimated completion date. I require a 50% non-refundable deposit before starting to paint.  Once the details are worked out and the contract is signed, please allow 4-6 weeks for me to complete the painting, and shipping generally takes an additional 3-5 business days. I will stay in touch via email or social media with progress photos. Don’t be alarmed if the first photo is a bit blocky and messy – this is just to get started and create some idea of where colors will go. As you can see below, it will start to take shape and become a nice, finished work of art!


IMG_6334.jpgREFERENCE PHOTOS: This is an example of a good reference photo. In this picture, Daisy is clear, in-focus and fills the frame. You can clearly see her expressive eyes, which are the window to her soul. To take a good reference photo, I suggest going outside with your pet so you can take advantage of some good natural lighting. You might want a helper if your pet won’t sit or stand while you back away to take the picture.  Take a bunch of pictures – the more pictures you take, the better chance you have of getting a nice quality photo. As an artist trying to work from your photos, please understand that I can only paint what I can see. You can never send too many reference photos, either! 🙂 If your reference photo was taken by a professional photographer, please include their contact information so I may ask their permission to use the photo as reference.

The photos below are POOR reference photos. The photo of Daisy in the creek is poor because the leash crosses over her head and you cannot see her facial features. She is also in an awkward position, which makes it hard to see her body type. Daisy is too small in the photo where she is standing on the tree. The funny picture of Daisy in the pool is a very strange angle for a portrait; her eyes are not clear, her tongue is the focal point of the image, and the water distorts the proportions of her legs. The last photo where she is playing with her friend is not good because she has her head turned away from the camera.

Send me an email today and let’s get started!


All Images © 2017-2025 Shamrock Studios/Bonnie Kelley
All Rights Reserved