It is possible to work from a photograph if you are asked to paint a family pet. I used a photograph of this beautiful little dog called Poppy to work from as a reference.
Any photograph you use has to be clear and the eyes are really a key point of contact with anybody looking at the painting.
When I paint short haired animals to represent the short hairs I use a graphite pencil (H) and mark in the tiny shapes of the hair. I then paint over them with the appropriate coat colour of the animal.
I used acrylic and watercolours to complete this painting. I painted in the eyes and nose first, ensuring I worked light to dark to represent the shine on the nose, and the light in the eyes. It was very useful that Poppy was looking straight into the camera, when I try and photograph my cat Sir Tom he has a tendency to look away from the camera!
The key to this painting was working light to dark, standing back after each application of tone, and evaluating whether the colour was correct.
Once I finished the painting I selected an appropriate coloured frame (light gold) and mount (white) to compliment Poppy’s colours.