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Professional pet portraits by Canadian artist Gail MacGregor


I cultivated my talent in the Fine Art Studio of Romanie Manuel in Ottawa; she is a great artist and instructor. She recognized my talent and my determination to succeed.

pug After a few weeks I was given a commission by a friend for a golden retriever. It was then that I realized my destiny. I haven't looked back since.

Gail at easel

Gail painting

pastel pencils

Please visit my Galleries


Our new painting is now hanging on our wall and all we can say is "Wow!" You have captured the special parts of each of the dog’s personality: Terra and Rayne’s intensity, Avery and Terra’s pouty lips, Moka’s inquisitive look, like we have said, “squirrel”. All so real and very memorable. We are lucky that the 4 of them are still with us but we know that when they are gone, we will still have a wonderful painting of our fond friends – the "Girls".
Norman LeCouvie
Cumberland, Ontario

I always put the eyes in first where I feel the soul lies


capturing the spirit within The process of creating a pastel portrait can take several weeks, but really begins when I first talk to the client. These conversations are very important to me and sometimes they are all I have to go on, especially when they are unable to supply me with a good photograph, as in the case of a deceased pet. This is when they tell me about their pet’s ‘kinky ear’ or special personality trait and that always helps me to bring out the individuality of the animal when I create the portrait. I do work from photographs though, so it is important to have a good one. For tips on how to create a good working photograph of your pet please visit my page on PHOTO TIPS. I can also create a multiple portrait with more than one subject in the same portrait.

I first start a portrait using a grid to guide me in my sketch. This method assures me that I will get an exact drawing of my subject and also helps out with sizing. I consider the drawing to be a very important part of the process as it identifies certain aspects of the subject especially bone structure. Bone structure is the key to any good portrait.

From there I transfer the image on the grid to my canson paper. This is the kind of paper I use, it comes in many different colours and textures.

eye close-up 1eye close-up 2eye close-up 3

wolf close-up My method of applying pastels is to start with the darkest colours first and end with the lightest colours last. This way there is a transparency throughout the portrait. Keeping that in mind, I don't smudge the colours together for that reason. I work mostly with Rembrandt soft pastels. I also use Winsor & Newton pastels which are very soft, and Derwents, which are a nice pencil, but my favourite are Carb Othello. Once all the colour is applied, I go back throughout the painting and re-identify the darkest areas and also the highlights. I will continue to do this until I get the photo realistic quality that I insist on. That's why it is very important to give me a great photograph to work from. For my tips on how to take a good photograph for your pet portrait click HERE.
boxer eyes
terrier in progress
terrier grid sketch
terrier finished

Sometimes a client asks to have several pets in one portrait, and I can do that. The process is basically the same, but involves more planning and time to complete.

4 girls4 girls photo

Prices for multiple portraits vary, depending on whether they are head and shoulders or full body portraits. Please see my Pricing page for full details.