The magic of acrylics for painting pet portraits

I’ve been painting custom pet portraits since 2005. Painting is like anything: the more you do it, the more you learn! Over the past 16 years, I’ve solidified my technique and the materials that work best for me, and I want to share what I’ve learned. 

In this post, I’ll break down exactly what I use to create custom hand-painted pet portraits—and why I’m a huge fan of acrylics.


It’s all about acrylics

The medium I use to create custom pet portraits is acrylic paint on pre-stretched canvas. I use acrylics because they are water-based paints that look similar to oil, but without the smell and the mess. 

Here are just a few of the other things I love about acrylic paint:

  • Easy cleanup. With acrylics, I can clean up quickly and easily, and my studio doesn’t asphyxiate me (or my family) with paint fumes. And as any parent knows, the less messy paint you have in your home, the safer you are from unexpected “artwork.”
  • Dries quickly. Because acrylic paint dries very quickly, it’s easy to layer color without the portrait getting muddy.
  • Archival. Acrylic paint is expected to stand the test of time better than oil—though it hasn’t been around as long, so the jury is still officially out. It’s also resistant to UV light damage, so my portraits look just as good after years of hanging on a wall as they do right after I’ve painted them.

The power of pre-stretched canvas

The other half of my painting material power couple is pre-stretched canvas—because who’s got time to stretch their own? 

And the benefits go beyond time savings. I can easily buy standard off-the-rack frame sizes, making my portraits easy to hang and frame without the need for expensive custom framing. Pre-stretched canvas sizes are great for that, with no muss or fuss.

The canvas I use is ¾ to ⅞ inch deep. It looks great on the wall with or without a frame. (Just don’t frame your pet’s portrait under glass—click here for some tips on framing.)

Pro tip: If your budget only allows for a smaller-sized portrait, buy an oversized frame! It will take up more space on your wall, and the portrait will pop.

From my home to yours

The final thing I love about acrylic paint on canvas is that it dries quickly, so I can ship your portrait lickety-split! 

Commissioning custom artwork isn’t something you do every day. It’s a special gift, whether it’s destined for your wall or someone else’s, so it’s important to send these portraits to their forever homes as soon as possible. 

That’s why I’ve designed a process that minimizes your wait and maximizes the time you’ll spend enjoying the custom, hand-painted portrait of your beloved family member.

Bring your pet to life on canvas today! Order here.

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