Can you think of anything more fun than photographing a fantastic couple and four dogs with a couch outdoors on a lovely day in Austin? Jill and Mike asked me if I could photograph them and their four dogs (they refer to them as the Quatros Perros). Jill had a maroon colored couch she planned on giving away and asked if we could take it somewhere near her house and use it during our session together. I think it ended up working out really well and I certainly enjoyed the collaboration aspect of this session.
Last evening the Animal Trustees of Austin held their 5th annual Petcasso fundraiser here in Austin and it was a huge success! Last week I shared a small portion of the art I created for this project and I promised to reveal the entire piece. I'm excited to say that my painting/photograph raised $2400 during the live auction for the Animal Trustees of Austin! There were some amazing paintings included in the auction that also raised significant funding for the organization.
The final piece is titled, "Sisters" inspired by two loving chihuahua sisters named Kiki and Coco.
I'd love to share a little bit about the process with you.
When I was asked to participate in this project I was really excited (and as I mentioned earlier, very nervous) to have the opportunity to work closely with an animal welfare project here in Austin. These two sweet dogs were in foster care, awaiting a permanent home when I photographed them.
My idea was to photograph the dogs and create a mixed media piece of art. I photographed the dogs against a green background so I would be able to delete the background in Photoshop and create an entirely white background ready for paint. I could have photographed them on white, but due to timing and space issues this was the best solution. The dogs were nervous and quivery (as are most chihuahuas!) during the beginning of the portrait session. They weren't incredibly interested in treats and I think they just needed time to get used to me and my camera. The more calm I became the more relaxed they got. They eventually sat down for a couple of seconds back to back. I loved the shaped that their bodies made when they joined together and I had a pretty good idea that this was going to be the image for my painting.
After photographing these two tiny ladies I worked on the computer editing the image from the background. I then had to recreate hair in Photoshop because it is not easy to include the thin hairs when you're deleting a background from a photograph. It was important to me to have these details included despite the tedious process of drawing hair for a few hours! I then had the photograph printed as an 18" x 36" canvas wrap. In the end, the structure resembled a painting because the canvas was wrapped around wooden supports and the photograph is actually printed on canvas.
When I received the canvas with the photograph printed on it I started painting with acrylic paint. I love color and wanted to use warm colors that blended toward the center where the dogs' bodies joined. I used brushes as well as palette knives to add the color. After I created a base painting it was time to get the artistic influence of the chihuahuas. I met them at the Animal Trustees of Austin and they helped add some of their chihuahua "flair" with their tiny paws. It was at that time that a video of our production was created and Kiki and Coco became superstars.
After the sisters artistic touch was added I finalized the painting and passed it on to the organization for the big event.
This was absolutely a delightful project and in addition to being able to help an amazing organization I am now inspired to explore this style for more painting and photography combinations. I'm happy to say that Kiki and Coco now have a permanent, loving home and so does their portrait.