6-Tips to Help you Choose a Background | Paint Your Pet

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Choosing the Best Background

You would think that painting the background would be the easiest part of a pet portrait, but when it comes to creating the perfect memorial of your pet, it’s not so easy.

I often struggle with deciding what objects, colors, and layouts look the best with the different breads that I paint.

After lots of trial and error, here are a few helpful tips.

1) Dark Colored Pets: If you have a dark colored pet, choose a light/er colored background.

2) Light Colored Pets: Same goes for light colored pets, choose a dark/er background.

3) Pair Colors: Complementary colors look great together. For example, a tan/orange cat looks fabulous with a blue background.

4) Adding Favorite Toys or Beds: If you want to add objects to your pet portrait, try to choose ones that have different colors. If you have a black dog with a black or grey toy next to it, it tends to get lost in the painting. Choose bright colored objects or use texture to add contrast.

5) Landscape Portraits: If you want to paint a landscape pet portrait, make sure you complete the landscape first before adding your pet into the foreground. For example, if you have a photo of your dog on the beach, complete the beach scene first, then layer your pet over top to create the depth of a landscape.

6) Abstract Backgrounds: If you want to add polka dots, tie-dye, squiggly lines, or square patterns to the background, just make sure you don’t add so much detail that it takes away from your pet. Make the background unique but simple so that you draw the eyes to your pet instead of your background.

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Hopefully these tips will help you decide the best background for your cat or dog. If you need any help at all friends, just email me at rose@laurenelizabethfineart.com.


Paint Your Dog in Acrylics | Art Challenge


All of September I’m having a “Paint Your Pet Challenge.” Masterclass students AND non-students can participate in this challenge for a chance to win ANY of the following prizes:

1) Master’s Touch Acrylic Paint Set + Mixed Media Pad.

2) Master’s Touch Variety Brush Set + Watercolor Travel Pad.

Challenge Rules

1) Once you’ve completed your pet portrait (cat or dog) post your photo on social media and tag @laurenelizabethfineart (Lauren Elizabeth Fine Art Facebook page) OR send me a photo if you do not have a Facebook.

2) Use any paint medium you want. It must be on canvas or paper.

3) Post a photo of your painting before September 25th. Winner will be announced on September 30th.

Acrylic Dog Painting

Painting your dog can be daunting, but I assure you with a little patience, acrylic instruction, and a good reference photo, you can paint any dog with ease.

In summary, here are the steps for painting your dog with a landscape background. Remember, a great painting requires great photos. Make sure you have at least 3-reference photos of your dog AND the background you want.

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Step 1: Paint the base coat onto your canvas first. Then once dry, paint or sketch the dog and background.

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Step 2: Paint the background before painting the dog in the foreground. If you have a dog in the background then paint them together.

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Step 3: Layer colors to add depth and distance to your painting (if you are adding a landscape background). This may take many layers. I spent a good 2 hours on the background before moving onto the dog.

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Step 4: Start painting low lights (shadows) on dog. Make sure your color is brighter than the background, but the darkest color on the dog. That way you don’t loose your dog if you have dark colors in your background.

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Step 5: Add final highlights to your background. THEN add final highlights to your dog. This step is all about fine tuning what you already have. So painting over top the previously added hair, pedals, and leaves, not adding more.

Get More Tutorials

Any good painting takes time. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a couple days to complete. If you want more in depth instruction, I have many dog painting tutorials in my Online Animal Art Masterclass.



Leaf Art | Inspiration

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When it comes to painting animal art, adding greenery like leaves and flowers, can be a beautiful addition to the background or even foreground.


Leaf Art Inspiration

For a little art inspiration, I’ve added some playful, vibrant, leaf art created by myself and other artists I admire!

by Lauren Elizabeth

by Lauren Elizabeth

by Lauren Elizabeth

by Lauren Elizabeth

by Sari Shryack

by Sari Shryack

Sari Not Sorry Art by Sari Shryack

Sari Not Sorry Art by Sari Shryack

by Jess Phoenix

by Jess Phoenix

by Laura Dro Designs

by Laura Dro Designs


How to Finish a Painting | Acrylics


Finishing an Acrylic Painting

When it comes to finishing your painting, here’s what I would recommend:

  1. Wait about three days before applying finish.

  2. ONLY use acrylic varnish for acrylic paintings, and oil seal coat for oil paintings.

  3. 1-2 coats of finish should do the trick. Wait one hour before applying second coat.

  4. You can paint acrylic over top any acrylic varnish. Just let it dry again and paint over it with another coat of varnish.

Types of Varnish


Depending on the final look you want to achieve, you have a couple different options for acrylic varnish. In the Animal Art Masterclass, we will just focus on acrylic varnish for now.

  • Gloss: Creates a high glossy finish.

  • Matte: Somewhat pearl looking finish.

  • Satin: Creates a low gloss finish.

Glossy just means a clear, shiny covering. I personally like the high gloss look, which is why I buy the Liquitex Basics Gloss Varnish brand for $9.99 at Hobby Lobby.

The 250mL bottle will last me about 2-3 months or so. I paint about 5-10 paintings a month.

How to Apply Varnish

Simply use any brush to apply the varnish over top. Just remember the following when painting the varnish:

  1. Use a damp brush to apply the varnish.

  2. Make sure surface of painting is clean and doesn’t contain dust, hair, or wet paint.

  3. Use a high quality brush that won’t loose it’s bristles.

  4. Cover the front and sides of the painting.

Paint Your Dog | New Traceable Print Outs


At last, my “Paint Your Dog in Acrylics” tutorials are finally complete! Many people have been requesting these tutorials, and here is the first one. The other five will be uploaded to my Online Animal Art Masterclass and ready for viewing on July 21st.

Subscribe HERE for Animal Painting Tutorials for Stress Relief.

NEW Traceables


Announcing the NEW traceable print outs.

I’m now offering traceables for my YouTube channel AND Online Animal Art Masterclass, however masterclass students get all of them included in their membership.

The “How to Paint Your Dog” tutorial uses Olive the Dingo Dog as the happy model for showing beginner artists how to paint a dogs eyes, nose, ears, whiskers, and more. The traceable for this one is a very simple, straight forward image of Olive. And once it’s been transfer onto your canvas, I walk you through every step, layer after layer, using acrylic paint.

For more details on the NEW traceable print outs, click HERE.

Relax Like a Boss | Mindfullness


I’ve recently been introduced to the blog founder of Relax Like A Boss, John Parrott.

John has so much valuable insight on the art of mindfulness, practicing regular meditation, and everything you need to know about relaxing and enjoying life.

I especially love Johns article about the 25 Low Stress Jobs for People, an artist being one of them.

I love how practical he is on balancing life when you know you struggle with anxiety or depression.

It all makes sense; choose a career that blesses you emotionally.

Being an artist is not a gold mine, but it does allow me to make a living while adding to my life mentally and spiritually.

I’ve had other jobs that pay more, but at the expense of my creativity, energy, and joy!

I also love Johns article called 14 Reasons Why Anxiety Sucks (And How to Fix Them).

Anxiety is not fun, and it feels like one big trap.

And again John helps his followers make small, yet profound baby steps towards anxiety freedom with his realistic approach.

Subscribe HERE for Animal Painting Tutorials for Stress Relief.

Learn how to paint bird feathers why relaxing like a boss! Hahah.

Tomorrow I will be posting my newest tutorial “How to Paint an Abstract Whale” so stay tuned for that.


Donkey Acrylic Painting | Mother's Day Giveaway


Who loves Shrek? I was watching this movie on TV the other day and it inspired me to paint this silly, adorable donkey called Mini Cooper. A miniature donkey with lots of spunk. A great paint for beginners, and you can choose to paint on paper or canvas.

Subscribe HERE for Animal Painting Tutorials for Stress Relief.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Announcing the winner of my Mother’s Day Giveaway!

The blessed mom who gets “Tiny Grace,” this piggy painting and a FREE month of my Online Animal Art Masterclass.

Congratulations to Joanne Edwards! Happy Mothers Day.

Because I’m so grateful for the other moms who participated, they get a 10% OFF Discount on all my paintings and prints with the promo code: HAPPY MOM.

Have a beautiful Mother’s Day everyone!

Husky Painting Tutorial | Mini Painting


I’ve prepared another animal painting tutorial, accept this one is for dog/Husky lovers. Based on popular request, I’ll be making the next few painting tutorials of different dog breeds. This tutorial is quick, fun, and easy, using a 6” x 6” mini canvas. It’s a great paint to relax and recharge your batteries with, even if you can’t afford a lot of supplies. This tutorial uses very little paint.

Subscribe HERE for Animal Painting Tutorials for Stress Relief.