Life as a pet portrait artist who paints rabbits
When most pet owners approach me for a pet portrait, they ask things like ‘how much do pet portraits cost’ or ‘how long do your paintings take’. But rabbit owners start off with… do you even paint rabbits?? Can you paint my rabbit for me?? And while I get that rabbits maybe aren’t as popular a pet as cats or dogs, and some artists might not be comfortable with their (pretty unique) facial anatomy, YES! I totally paint rabbits.
In fact, when I was a kid I had bunnies myself. A couple of little black dwarf bunnies named Charcoal and Smokie.
In this post I’ll show you a few examples of rabbit portrait paintings I’ve done, and share a little bit about my process.
Rabbit portrait painting process
The process for painting rabbits is pretty much the same as it is for any other pet. I start off by working on the composition with my clients. Sometimes, that’s pretty straightforward, like in the example below.
Other times, we need to make some changes. That might mean cropping and zooming and simplifying the background, or looking at several different poses to find the right one. Occasionally, I’ll also need to take our red-eye—or green-eye, as the case may be. Here, you can see a slight white glow in Nicki’s eye (Nicki is the bottom snuggler) that looked weird, so I took it out in the final painting. Perks of making things by hand 😉
One we’ve got the composition sorted out and I’ve gone through any changes, it’s time to get started on canvas! I start with a sketch, and layer up my paints from dark to light, finishing with the highlights that really bring a painting to life.
Unique features of rabbits in paintings
Rabbits (and other lagomorphs) have some really unique features. Their round pretty-much-a-ball bodies are particularly fun to paint, but the positioning of their eyes can throw you for a loop if you’re not expecting it. Unlike humans, bunnies have eyes on the SIDES of their heads, not the front.
So if you’re used to painting dogs and cats, that’s going to be very different. Their heads are actually shaped more like horse’s heads than our carnivorous companions of the canine and feline persuasions.
Then there’s the ears. Rabbits have really unique ear positioning. They’re practically glued together, and way up top! Again, compare that to humans… we’ve got our whole skulls in between our ears. Dog do too, for that matter, and even cats have a lot more real estate between their ears than rabbits do. Something to watch out for.
And a cool thing you can do with rabbits in art is play with the light that comes through those ears. I did this oil painting of a young rabbit that showed up in my yard many years ago. It’s smaller than the work I do professionally so there isn’t as much detail, but I sure had fun painting translucent ears!
In each of these bunny paintings, the ears tell you a lot about the subject’s mood, too. I bet you can tell who’s relaxed, who’s alert, and who’s just curious.
Looking for an artist who can paint your pet bunnies?
If you find yourself asking ‘where can I find an artist to paint my bunny’, look no further! I’d be happy to help. Just head over to my contact page and let me know what you’d like to do.