A Memorial of Nakaiya

topdogPet Portraits

Nakaiya was a sweet old girl. After she passed, her owner commissioned me to paint this portrait as a Christmas gift for her son, who missed "Kai" dearly. She also ordered a second print for herself (one of the advantages of digital pet portraits).

This portrait of Nakaiya represents a bit of a transition for me in terms of style. I can see that I'm becoming a bit freer and loose with my brushwork.

There are a couple reasons for this evolution, I believe.

First, I'm an impatient painter. I don't like to fuss around, trying to capture each tiny detail, each hair in a portrait. When I was painting in oils, I was inspired by the works of Claude Monet who could, with simple, interesting strokes, create the needed shape to convey the subject. He wasn't interested in the minute details (perhaps because, like me, he couldn't see very well).

Second, my focus is on depth, color, and a recognizable (but not photographic) likeness of the subject. The strokes help to convey life and energy. The colors create sparkle and interest, and define the form.

Finally, I want my paintings to LOOK like paintings, not copies of photos. Nothing against the many talented portrait artists who strive for near photographic quality, but that's never been my preference (see point 1 above). There's something compelling about a painting that doesn't need to "say" everything, but allows the viewer, in their mind, to participate in creating the image.

But enough art blather. Here's Nakaiya. Let me know what you think in the comments, and remember me if you ever want a pet portrait of your very own.

Kai Stibbard portrait 18x24

Nakaiya (digital 18x24)

About the Author


Topdog is Steve Merryman, a graphic designer (retired), and illustrator. Living in the woods, Steve can often be found working on portrait commissions. In his spare time he paints, writes, shoots guns, cuts trees, hikes with his dogs, savors a beer or two, and searches for the perfect cheeseburger. He studiously avoids social media and is occasionally without pants.


Ordering your very own pet portrait on stretched canvas is easy and secure using my online ordering form.

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