Watch a commission develop!


filmstrip for video showing the development of The E3 a commissioned portrait in the Family Portrait series by Elizabeth Lisa Petrulis
The E3 development filmstrip


In this 2 minute video you will find some of the steps I take to complete a commission. There is a lot of work that goes into it even before brush can touch canvas.

Omitted, are the communications with the client, intermediate steps, and the time in between actions. Time for contemplation, approvals, and work on other projects.


This particular commission was to be a surprise gift for the recipient. I was unable to take my own photos of the subjects so I relied on the client for those. I collected a few Googled for details like hoofs and paws, and postures and proportions. They helped me to think through some problems but were not used directly.


I discarded My first few composition ideas. Later I provided several others to the client who chose one.

To reach the final I cleared the clutter out of the background of the reference photos and tried a few toned grounds. I cropped and sized the image to correspond to the canvas size. I moved the dog’s body and head to several positions. The horse’s front leg was moved, removed, and finally covered by its repositioned head. The horse’s neck was gently curved for a more pleasing flow and to point in toward the woman.  And finally, since I did not have a photo showing all three subjects together, the client gave feedback on the proportions. I then sized the dog a bit larger before the composition was finally approved.


During the course of drawing and painting I changed more details: among other tweaks, I elongated the horse’s muzzle and withers, I de-emphasized then reemphasized the human leg to make sense of the seated position in relation to the horse.


Finally I signed, labeled and wired the back before delivery to, and for easy installation for, the client.

For more family portraits see the Family Portraits Portfolio page. For more horse paintings see the Horse Portfolio page. To see another horse painting in progress including a real time video see this blog post.

Do you still have questions about my portrait painting process? Please ask in the comments below, I’d love to clarify that for you.

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