"The finished portrait was absolutely outstanding, [Naomi] captured everything that we love about our Harry"
Harry the Flat-Coated Retriever posing with his framed portrait.
“I commissioned Naomi to draw a portrait of my parents late Golden Retriever Ella who died last autumn, as a birthday gift for my Dad. We were able to provide some close-up photos of her. The final artwork was incredible, she really brought Ella to life in the piece, her fur and smile were so accurate. My Dad was very touched and hugely impressed by the finished product. I would highly recommend Naomi.” – Megan Baldwin
From Flatties to Goldens, Retrievers are fabulous companions. Their intelligence, loyalty and eagerness to please, are wonderfully balanced by their comical goofiness and playful, care-free approach to life.
Like how he loves to spice up a walk by ambushing a fellow dog’s game of fetch. Or how she goes bonkers for water, launching herself at high speed and disappearing in a tidal wave. Maybe he goes crazy for food? No roast chicken is safe when there’s a canine counter surfer around.
Perhaps she adores people, especially children. Your walkies take forever as she greets absolutely everyone in sight. Picnickers are an especially high priority…
Knowing all about your Retriever will really help me to capture her true likeness in your portrait. Her personality will play into several key aspects of your artwork. This page will give you some valuable pointers to help you make the best choices for your Retriever portrait.
(If you’d like some more general advice about dog portraits, read through my Dog Portraits page).
Naomi with the portrait of "Dulcie, Fern, Mabel & Hattie", fresh off the easel
How to select the right reference photos
Your portrait will be drawn from photographs, and so it’s important that you choose the right photos.
The three main factors you should think about are:
When you think about your Retriever, you’ll have an image in your head. It might be a particular expression she has or certain features that you adore. Maybe she’s got her big tongue lolling out, or is gazing lovingly at you with that soft gentle expression in her eyes. When you’re choosing your photos, have these things in mind, as this will help you to choose that perfect photo that characterises your dog for you.
Whether you’re choosing existing photos, or taking new ones, selecting photos taken in natural daylight is really important, especially if your Retriever is golden or liver coloured. Good lighting will make sure I can see the true colours of the fur and eyes. Photos taken outside are ideal. Interior photos can also work, provided there is enough natural daylight in the room.
Retrievers have such wonderful long wavy coats, and rich brown eyes. To really do your dog justice, I need your photos to clearly show their eyes, and the direction of their fur. This will allow me to make your portrait as realistic as possible, as I’ll be able to work a very high level of detail.
To see some examples of good reference photographs, take a look at my Photo Guide page.
How to choose a pose
Think back again to that mental image you have of your Retriever. What is she doing? Perhaps she’s sat looking up at you with those loving eyes. Or maybe he’s standing with dripping wet fur, a playful energetic expression on his face. She could be lying down, snuggled up next to you, head on your knee.
Try to choose a pose that really epitomises your Retrievers’ unique character.
How to choose the right size for your portrait
You may already have a size in mind, and know where your portrait is going to hang in your house. But if you’re not sure, here are a few things to think about.
Being large dogs with big personalities, there’s a lot to fit into a Retriever portrait. From the detailed reflections in her eyes, to the subtle colour changes in her coat. The texture of her nose, and big lolling tongue to the beautiful waves in her glossy fur. And especially those long fluffy ears!
The larger the size of your portrait, the more detail and realism I can work into the drawing, and the more your dog’s personality will shine through.
If you’d like a full body portrait, I’d especially recommend going for at least an 11 x 14 inch portrait or larger. Anything smaller than this will compromise on the detail and realism of your portrait.
For a full list of my size options and some example photos, please read my Size Guide.
How to choose a background colour
The background colour of your portrait will need to take into account the fur colour of your retriever.
If you have a Golden Retriever, then the background colour needs to be chosen very carefully to make sure the fur stands out enough. It is possible to have a warm light-coloured background, as long as there is some degree of contrast with the fur colour.
Flat-Coated Retrievers are a little easier, as both black or liver coloured variants work with a wide variety of background colours.
Your Retriever’s personality might help decide on whether you’d like a warm or a cool background. An outdoor-loving swim-a-holic might fit best with a light blue backdrop. Or you might opt for a warmer cosier feel, to bring out the warm tones in your Retriever’s soft coat.
I’ll always advise you on what I feel will work well for your portrait, and will take your preferences into account. I usually draft up some options, and send them to you to see your thoughts.
The retriever portraits below should give you some good ideas for your own artwork.
Four fabulous retrievers
Ella the Golden Retriever
Ella was an adored companion, and a central part of her family life. She was unconditionally loving and her family cherished her.
After Ella’s passing, my client and her siblings commissioned Ella’s portrait to gift to their Dad for his birthday.
It made for an incredibly meaningful gift and was a wonderful way to remember Ella.
Bama and Indy, Flat-Coated Retrievers
This portrait of Bama and Indy was gifted by my client to her husband on their Wedding Anniversary.
Bama and Indy were a precious part of their family. My client described them as ‘their first babies’. Smart, affectionate, head-strong, and two big goofballs at heart.
Bama and Indy brought many years of laughs, smiles and adventures to family life before they passed away. This portrait now hangs in the family home in Georgia, USA.
Beau the Golden Retriever Puppy
Beau and Honey’s portrait was gifted by my clients to their Dad on his 50th birthday.
The cute bundle of golden fluff on the left is Beau, next to her gorgeous Labradoodle companion Honey on the right.
Beau was still a puppy when I drew her. Inquisitive, playful and a bit of a scaredy-cat, she’d completely won the hearts of her family.
The portrait was a complete surprise, and made for a very memorable birthday gift.