Animal Portrait Commissions

For me, painting your animal companion is truly a joy and I am excited for every opportunity to paint someone’s much loved pet.

Here is one of the secrets of how I get the “magic” into your painting:

I start by getting to know YOUR animal friend.

For me (and maybe for you?) anatomy is important, but when its a painting of YOUR companion, its not just about anatomy, its also about character.  And the better I can get to know your pet, the more I can put their spirit and personality into the painting.

My contemporary paintings are as much about interpreting the horse/dog/cat’s presence, personality and spirit as they are about representing their physical appearance…. maybe even more-so!

The following is a guideline to help you understand how simple this can be.

  1.  Start the Process with Contact and Deposit
  2. Clarify the details of your painting wishes
  3. The painting is created and is shipped to you on completion

Its basically that easy!

If you would like to read more about the process… I am happy to provide this additional info:

STEP ONE:  Starting the Process

Contact Me:  To begin the animal portrait process, contact me at shannon@

If you have you have already purchased one of my paintings or have seen my artwork at a Gallery or Show,  let me know where you saw my artwork and I will introduce you to the Gallery and ask the Gallery to contact you.  The Galleries who represent me are very experienced and will make the transaction as seamless as possible, and make sure that your painting arrives safely and in perfect condition.

I am occasionally approached by individuals who want to bypass one of my Galleries, but this is not something I do. To understand why, click here:

The most important part of all of this to me as an Artist,  is that the Gallery Art Experts handle all the details, and I get to focus on doing what I love … Painting!

Commissions will require a Deposit:  Once you have decided to move forward,  providing your  deposit will start the process.  Commissions are painted in order of deposit, paintings are not started until a deposit is in place.


STEP TWO:  Clarify the details of your painting

Questions to answer before I begin painting:

Do you want me to simply paint your horse/pet how I see him/her or do you want more of an influence on the painting?  This is your opportunity to be involved by sharing your desires in the early stages of planning the painting.

Subject:   Think about how you would like your horse/pet painted… do you want a portrait, looking into the distance, or into your eyes?   This is your chance to have the painting that you want in your home.

Composition:  Sometimes this depends on the wall it will be displayed on.  Do you want your horse looking into the room, or into another area?

The best way to decide is by looking through the images on my website and to pick one or two favourites as a starting point for colour and composition.

Colours: Are there colours that you love most?  Colours you want to avoid?  Consider the background colours of the room when you work with me on determining an overall pallet.  As you already know my work is usually very bright, but I can and will tone down my work if it will best suit your home.

Size:  Take some large sheets of paper and use removable tape to place the paper onto your wall, adding or removing paper strips until it is the size you wish for.  Measure the size you want:  Height and Width.  Notice anything nearby that will affect the position (light switches, furniture, lamps, overhead lighting etc).  Remember that original art should not be hung in a place that receives direct sunlight. If possible, take a photo of the wall with the paper on it and another of the wall and surrounding area.

Minimum size: in this category of Animal Portrait by request the minimum size is 288 square inches   Examples of paintings this size are  24 x 24 where the total square inches equals 288 square inches or more.

Maximum size: My Studio has 11 foot ceilings and I can easily paint up to 20′ Across as long as we can source the canvas in that size.  Larger size paintings will obviously have to shipped in a large tube and restretched at your location.

Travel for Reference: It is always much better if I can see your animal companion in person in order to experience their essence and character.  Looking into the eyes of your pet can make all the difference and can turn a successful painting into one of my best paintings of the year!

If travel is required to meet the subject, I am willing to do this for you (must be fit into my schedule)…. however, as I am sure you will understand, this expense is additional to the cost of the painting.  Travel is based on the distance that you are located from my studio and what type of transportation and accommodation is needed.

Framing and Shipping: Framing is best considered before the artwork is begun in case the frame cuts into the composition.  As is always the case, framing and shipping are additional costs.

Here is a checklist that will help you prepare for our first discussion about the painting

  • Subject of painting
  • Your Animal Companion’s Location (this will help to estimate cost if travel needed)
  • Colour (colours to include or avoid)
  • Size of canvas (height X width X depth)
  • Frame (best considered at this stage)
  • Orientation of canvas (vertical, horizontal)
  • Date Needed (is there a special event this is wanted for)
  • Paintings that you like (which of my paintings has your attention?)
  • Do you have a wall in mind? (lighting etc to be considered)
  • Alternately, you can simply choose just the size and orientation of the canvas and then let me create!


STEP THREE:  I Paint your Animal Companion
Please note;  I love painting horses, cats, dogs and other pet, and I also love painting farm animal friends and wild neighbours.

The Painting Begins:

Personal Visits: Whenever possible, I prefer to come to meet your animal companion in person, put my hands on them and spend a little time with him/her.    This also gives me an opportunity to sketch and to gather video, photos and other reference material.  Most of my paintings are of animals that I have actually met.  Yes, I will drive or fly to your location in order to meet you and your pet, however this is an additional expense, and travel is only a consideration for larger or multiple commissions.

Why Your Presence is Important:  A bonded animal looks at their favourite people very differently than they do a stranger. and I make every attempt capture that special connection on canvas.

Working together long distance: If meeting your companion is impractical, then we will operate from a distance.  I will let you know the kinds of video, photos and information that I will need in order to paint your pet “as if I have met him/her”.   That may mean skyping with you and your pet if possible, so I can view him/her in 3D in real time… or it might mean you telling me stories about your beloved animal until I feel like I know them and can translate their personality onto the canvas.

NOTE:  Time permitting, on most commissions, I may create a couple of paintings of your animal companion,  so in this case you will have a choice to make.  I usually request that decision be made within 48 hours.   Your painting will be shipped to you, or you can pick it up if you prefer.   Any paintings that are not chosen by you will be placed with one of the Galleries who represent me ~ or may also be entered into shows or competitions.

Working from Historical Photographic References

An example of this would be painting an animal who is deceased.

There are times that attempting to do this can be very challenging but I have had some pretty good experience with results as long as I have good archival photos (and sometimes video) to work from.  I don’t actually duplicate a photo, instead, I study multiple photos to get an understanding of your companion’s “look” and anatomy.  And when I am able to interview the person who knew the animal very well, it helps to capture their character.

I am very aware of not overusing photos myself, instead I rely on my years of drawing, painting and sculpting animals from life and my intimate knowledge of animal anatomy and behaviour.  This way I incorporate your stories about your companion with what I see in your high quality photo references. This enables me to use my own experiences to bring your loved companion to life on canvas.

NOTE: Any Photos you send me must be your own.  If they are professionally taken, we must receive written permission from the photographer in order to use the photo as a reference.  This respects the copyright that is held by the owner of the photograph.


Shannon Ford retains all copyright and rights on the artwork produced by this process.

I look forward to hearing from you and to welcoming you to my family of collectors!

Canada’s Top Equine Artist now Accepting Commissions

Top Canadian Artist

Canada’s Top Contemporary Equine Artist