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Whippet Portrait by Andrew Denman
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14 x 17" Acrylic on Board, 2015
Whippet Portrait

Collection of Ronald J. Mix, member of the Pro-Football Hall of Fame

I very rarely do pet portraits; in fact I can only think of perhaps five in my entire career. I always begin by making sure the client knows that he or she will not be getting a fuzzy and sentimental animal portrait, but instead a piece of fine art that happens to have his or her pet in it. If you type “pet portrait” into Google images, you’ll quickly see that this is not a fine distinction. I took on this project both because I love whippets (Guy and I have a whippet mix, our beloved Enzi), and because I loved the story behind the piece.

The commissioners wanted me to work from some photos a friend of theirs had taken of their deceased whippet, Phoebe. It’s worth pointing out that posthumous portraits are an exception to my “I only work from my own references” rule, since there is no other option, other than to decline the project. It does create problems, however; given the lack of personal experience with the subject, such pieces require a lot more research and a more careful than usual consultation with the client. The first thing I asked for was a signed release from the photographer authorizing me to use his image as a basis for the painting. Sadly, obtaining such a release was impossible because he too had passed away (I was able to retain permission from his widow). Apparently this friend was a budding photographer but also suffering from terrible Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his time in combat. He was advised that spending time outdoors was an important part of his therapy, so every week he accompanied his friends when they took their dogs out for a hike. The owners would mind their dogs as they frolicked and hunted after rabbits while their friend would take his mind off his troubles through the simple act of taking pictures.

The idea that I was memorializing not only a treasured family pet, but a man who, like many before him, sought solace from pain and grief in nature, made this painting especially satisfying to complete. At the time of this writing, the clients have yet to see the painting in person, but their reaction upon seeing just a photograph in an e-mail convinces me that I have done good by both man and beast.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
All artwork and text featured on this page and throughout this website is protected by international copyright laws. Use of these images or text is prohibited without the express written permission of Andrew Denman.