"Sadie" is for Kim and Gary, who commissioned the painting for Gary's parents. The adorable Sadie is a five-year-old Wheaten terrier and their "baby" since they have no kids at home.
There was a debate about the composition. Kim wanted a shoulder up shot, which would show the fluffiness of Sadie's face and the kindness of her eyes. On the other hand, Gary suggested a full body painting with the outdoor background. His parents take Sadie on walks along the Eno River in North Carolina many times each week, so such a painting would be more meaningful to them. Following Gary's suggestion, I combined two pictures: one with Sadie's head slightly tilted, which I cropped to zoom in on the head, and another with the rock bed background.
By the way, this is my first 8" x 10" single pet portrait. It is large enough to have a developed background AND the expressive portrait of Sadie. I believe that the environment in which the subject is situated is vital to the success of a painting, whether an airy, colorful ground, a grassy lawn, an interior with a couch , or a rocky park with dappled light. So much so that, I almost always paint the background first!