My latest portrait commission was of a black, mixed breed dog named Shaq. There are two ways that I always know that I've been successful in capturing the spirit and personality of someone's pet. The first way is when I present them with their portrait. If I've really done my job well, and especially if the pet is gone, their reaction usually shows a lot of emotion. I often have a box of tissue handy as tears are often shed over remembering the loss of their pet. The second way I know I've done well (and this always comes at some later time) is when they contact me to paint another portrait for them. This was the case with Shaq's portrait.
Shaq's portrait was painted in acrylic. Though it's hard to see in the photo I have painted many fine lines to indicate the texture of his coat. Over those lines I glaze other colors, some warm, some cool to create depth. That's one of the great things about acrylic. You can keep adding layers of paint without disturbing what is underneath. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite mediums to work in for that reason.