Well, I think this means we are officially “dog people”. You would be too, if you met our dogs (says every dog parent ever). I don’t know HOW we lucked out with these two (rescued during lockdown, last two in a litter of seven that was dropped off, full story here), but we are all obsessed (thank god, I was honestly nervous). We are doing a family photo/art wall up the stairs with different self-portraits of the kids (including their DIY silhouettes also done during lockdown) and so yes, I wanted the dogs to be properly represented. I went on IG to find some dog portrait artists (truly one of the best things about social media – finding talented people) and had “liked” a ton of portraits from one artist’s IG posts. So when said artist, Natalie Cooperman, reached out and offered to capture my pups likeness for some original portraits we all (including the kids) screamed, YES YES YES, enthusiastically. Here’s how it went down…
While I love the idea of our pups sitting still for an oil portrait session (like Kate Winslet in Titanic for Leo’s character), this wasn’t exactly Natalie’s process. It’s much easier. You have to take good photos of your pups’ faces, ideally with an expression that looks like them (either up close or in a high enough resolution that she can zoom in close).
Here’s a video of all of us Hendersons seeing the portraits for the first time (just wait for the ad to play & as always THANK YOU):
Buttercup – The Sweet, Sensitive Cuddlebucket
A lot of people can’t tell them apart initially but they are so different (the easy way is Butter has white ears, Oscar has gray). Butter is gentle and sweet – she licks my leg politely when she would love a walk (I don’t like this, but her method is far sweeter than Oscars, see below). She apologizes for anything by rolling over and hiding her face with her paws – it’s like out of a movie cute. She gets jealous of Oscar’s attention so the best way to get her to come inside when we call or to do anything we want her to do is to praise Oscar first with a good boy, then she runs right in. She, they both, are extremely cuddly and sweet, greet us happily, and follow me around all day long in the house. Look at their little black noses!!!! She’s quiet and sweet (until she meets a dog on the street that she deems threatening and then she goes nuts – LITTER SYNDROME IS REAL). But mostly, she seems like a human in a dog’s body, wants to make eye contact while she kisses us (weird but so sweet, IYKYK), and greets the kids with so much happiness I could cry.
So we sent Natalie those three photos and she chose the middle one – with her ears cocked a bit and head to the side.
Oscar – The Grumpy And Assertive Brother
Now Oscar is more of a punk – a hilarious, assertive punk. He sighs big huffs when he doesn’t get what he wants (can this be a gene inherited from his human dad?) and he tells you exactly what he wants and insists on it in that moment. He looks you straight dead in the eye as he barks for a walk. He wants cold water filled to the top of the bowl. He goes “grocery shopping” up to the kids’ bedrooms and steals stuffies. He has a stuffie baby bird that he’s been OBSESSED with for four months now (it’s disgusting) and he takes such good care of it (while slowly chewing its eyeballs off – not the best caretaker I guess). He huffs and puffs around in the early morning when he wants a walk and then if I don’t move fast enough, he barks so loud – KNOWING that the kids will hear and I’ll rush to take them on their walk. Now, does that sound annoying if you aren’t a dog lover? YES. But it’s because we have an established morning routine (I wake up, get dressed in dog walking clothes, down 1/2 cup of coffee, fill up my to-go cup with the second cup, find a fanny pack with poop bags and headphones). He’s fine up to the “fanny pack” point, but if I linger or dilly dally after that, he tells me, loudly – and the whole house hears. It’s a highly effective method to get what you want, (is there a mom version of this that I can steal?), so we are normally out of the house by 6:15 so we can be back by 7:15 to help get the kids out of the door. That’s all to say that Oscar is my funny, grumpy, goofy, and happy boy.
Natalie chose the middle photo because she liked his smile and tongue out (as you can barely see in the photo he is caring for his baby bird stuffie).
Natalie was able to turn this around in a couple of weeks and we got the original drawings in the mail… I LOVE this shot of Oscar looking at his portrait. Here’s a side-by-side so you can see what an incredible job Natalie Did:
Oscar sitting on Brian’s lap is painfully cute. He looks genuinely delighted about the portrait!!
Natalie drew them both with what seems to be colored pencils in a variety of soft shades (even some pinks and purples). We just love them SO MUCH (the portraits and the dogs).
The portraits came on paper with a little note. I can’t thank you enough, Natalie. I advise you to get on this early for holiday presents (no, I’m not pushing gift guides yet – we have, you know, 3 months til we have to get on that haha). I just know that she is going to get slammed. I love how serious they are – I’m sure I’d also love more animated cartoon-like portraits of them, but these are going to be so awesome inside two vintage matching antique frames (with oval openings?). I’ll hang them together, like the royalty that they are.
Y’all should go follow Natalie Cooperman on IG and if you like her work give her some love. It makes me so happy that part of my job can be doing posts like this, and expose all of you who are interested to artists who are bringing a lot of joy to family like ours. Pet portraits FTW! xx
*Reveal Photos by Kaitlin Green