Ever thought about getting dog portraits in Ireland? Let us ask, how important is your dog to you? I’m guessing a lot, and we all know that a dog’s life expectancy is considerably shorter than ours.
While that saddens us, it also makes us appreciate the time we have together that much more, and because we know one day they will be gone, it becomes apparent we must appreciate the importance of remembering our dogs as they are.
April Curtin is an extremely talented artist that specialises in dog portrait drawing, and recently we had the pleasure of working along side her at ScoobyBox to create a portrait for a lucky competition winner, Nellie.
We tried to get inside this talented artist’s work and show you the effort and detail she goes into when creating her portraits, and also the reasons why she values them so highly.
“I’m currently working on the sweetest little pooch called Nellie and her expression fully captures her personality. When working on dog it’s their character that I try my best to emulate on paper, which is difficult but such a rewarding experience once you get it right.”
Asked about how she got into this line of work April said, “As a child I always loved art, and I always loved animals. So it was natural for me to try and incorporate both! Now I work closely with like-minded animal lovers and create personalised and unique portraits of their best friends for them to cherish forever.”
April has a process she follows in order to capture each dog’s unique traits and importance to the owner. It goes like this, “When I get a photo I always ask for some information about the dog, it’s favourite pastime, what it does to be cute and of course I need to know what it does to be annoying!”
April continued, “Through this conversation I get an idea of the animal’s character and working closely with the image or images provided I try to incorporate all aspects of that into the portrait and get a snapshot of not only their appearance but also their personality as well.”
April prefers head and shoulder portraits over full body drawings as it gives her a chance to focus on the finer details. “If you look at the piece on Nellie, I’ve worked in very close detail and made every little mark on my drawing, every white hair, every whisker and blemish perfect, so the owner sees what makes their baby theirs.”
Does this require a lot of trial and error and erasing, we asked? “I generally don’t do much of a pencil sketch. I prefer to go straight for my colour pencils and let them find their way around the portrait. It feels more natural to me this way.”
What’s April’s most common question from people who view her portraits? “I always get asked what’s my favourite part of every portrait, and that’s simple, it’s the eyes. It’s the eyes that hold the love, the loyalty and the devotion. It also holds the mischief and that ‘I did nothing’ look we all know so well!”
What’s the most important thing when a customer comes to April? Photos. “I love working with high quality photos. I surprise myself with the details you can pick out when you look at it for long enough. My favourite part is when the owners reflection is visible in a dog’s eye! A few of which I have done lately have brought tears to eyes, as the dog had passed.”
“That’s another reason I love what I do, to bring a moment of healing to those who miss a best friend and want a forever keepsake of them looking down on them. I remember one customer said to me very simply on receiving her portrait of her dog that had passed, ‘thank you for bringing my baby home’. That was very touching for me.”
The ScoobyBox competition winner was Nellie and she is nearly finished now, “I’ll give the portrait a once over before I send a photo for approval to Mum. It’s always nice to give a portrait fresh eyes, I get surprised sometimes by the little things I can pick up on after taking a break from looking at it.”
“I’ve loved drawing Nellie, and like every portrait I’ve done I feel privileged being entrusted to bring to life a 2d image! These little creatures mean everything to their owners and being a animal lover myself, I totally get it too.”
April is happy to do what she does and finds meaning in each one of her creations, “It’s so wonderful to know I’ve had the honour to meet so many lovely animals in my time drawing, and spend days making their little moment of glory perfect!”
April finished by saying, “It’s true what they say, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!”
A big thank you to April Curtin from Precious Pawtraits for running the competition with us, and introducing us to Nellie that beautiful winner.
You can contact April on her Facebook page to have your pet immortalised in colour too!