Forever in My Heart - A Portrait Commission

Forever in My Heart Portrait by Portrait Artist ~ Enzie Shahmiri

"Forever in My Heart"

Oil on Canvas ~ 20 x 24 inches



The painting is finished and was received with great joy by my client. When she came to pick the painting up at Art A Fair, I happened to be talking to a couple about my work. In order for my client not to have to wait, I excused myself and quickly opened the box to reveal the finished portrait. My client loved her portrait and was so excited that she started to share her experience of how we went about making this piece a reality with the couple who stepped up closer to have a peek. At least 30 minutes later every female around was moved to tears.

I set out to show the ever lasting bond between a woman and her beloved cat and based on the reactions, I am thrilled to see that it was a success. The greenery in the background and the sky were added to implicate earth and heaven. To the casual viewer these are just back drops, but for my client it signifies her existence on earth and her cat being in heaven.

Forever in My Heart Work in Progress 5 Face Detail


I have applied the first color layer. My client is extremely fair skinned and that creates some new and very interesting challenges. Here I am trying to hit the color tones and once they are somewhat in the correct age turning edges will be joint.

Forever in My Heart Work in Progress 6 Cat Detail

With the cat however I am dealing with the extreme opposites. This cat is very black and only picks up highlights where the light is the most intense or where the fur bends. Here I decided to go impasto and play up the fur and introduce blues, chocolate brown and even some pink. This will help to to give a very black cat some form and make it visually interesting. It also repeats the colors otherwise found in the painting and will harmonize with it's surroundings.

Forever in My Heart Work in Progress 4


I have been working away from the umber wash in and started the grizaille. In order to make the figure separate from the background and to establish a hierarchy within the painting value patterns have to be established and clearly defined. At first I looked at the over all big shapes and concentrated on three values, dark, light and medium. Once these were in place I looked for planes within these larger shapes. A plane is yet another flat shape that can be found within the large shapes that were just determined. Planes can be vertical or horizontal and of different widths.

Since the source photo was taken outside I am dealing with form lighting. Form lighting occurs when the person or object is covered anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 by light. This type of lighting has a tendency to bleach out the planes found in the lightest parts, but makes for a nice overall portrait. Furthermore a dappled light effect from an overhead patio cover added some interesting light and shadow patterns, emphasizing the out of doors feel of this composition.

Well off to the easel for more work...

Forever in My Heart

Recently I had one of those light bulb moments, were frustrated with the reference photos I offered to take my client to the Blue Bell Cat Foundation for a photo shoot. The idea was to find a cat similar in size and shape to that of Maui and have the client hold it so that I can take some better reference photos. You can read all about our outing here

Forever in My Heart

Once in the studio, I poured over all the photos and after another meeting we narrowed it down to one pose and photo. I still had to to a mock up on Photoshop, but I think the overall composition makes for a real nice portrait portraying the bond between owner and pet.

Using a 20x24 in primed canvas the figures were placed with an ink pen. Then the canvas was

oiled out and received an umber wash. Working from more abstract shapes the dark and light areas were determined . I will continue working this stage until a nice rendition is created.

Meet "Maui" the Black Panther who has moved on to kitty heaven and is greatly missed by it's owner, who has entrusted me with painting a portrait in memory of her little furry love.

I was told that Maui was just like a panther and had a very regal character. His owner has seen a photograph of a panther and likes me to paint Maui in the same pose. I am as excited as Maui's owner to see how this one is going to turn out.

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