Giving Something Back to the Animals


I’ve decided I’d like to give something back to the animals that help me earn a living, so from today, I will be donating 10% of all proceeds from my pet portraits to animal charities.

Battersea Dogs and Cats HomeFor dog and cat portraits, the money will go to Battersea Dogs and Cats home, who do great work caring for dogs and cats in need of help, reuniting them with their owners, and finding them new homes.

For horse portraits, I will donate to Redwings Horse Sanctuary, who provide welfare and rehabilitation for over 1,100 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules every day.

And for any other animals, I will donate the money to the animal charity of your choice, or to the RSPCA.

Donations will be made at the end of each month.

This is just my small way of giving something back. It’s nice to think that the work I do can go towards helping animals in need, as well as celebrating those that are already well cared for.

To order a pet portrait, look at the examples on this page, choose the style you like, and get in touch.

Hope by Dan Johnson

New Tattoo Art Series

A friend of mine recently told me about another friend of theirs who was looking for some artwork to display in the tattoo studio where she works.

I got in touch and asked what kind of thing they were looking for. She said anything really, but if it is along the lines of ‘tattoo art’ then so much the better.

So I decided to create some custom paintings with a tattoo theme to them. Here is the first one (click to enlarge):

Hope by Dan Johnson

The Chinese characters say 'hope'

I’m going to do a few more along these lines and I’ll post them here when they’re done.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

I also posted recently over on Right Brain Rockstar about how I intend to develop some form of online art course this year.

If that’s something you’d be interested in, check out that post and leave a comment, or join the mailing list to stay informed of any developments.


Where to Buy Drawing Reference Plaster Casts in the UK

One disadvantage of studying art online, is that as well as buying all of your regular art supplies such as paints, canvases etc, you also have to buy the reference material that would normally be provided by an art school.

One thing that I’ve found most difficult to find at a reasonable price is plaster casts, which are commonly used in art ateliers for drawing practice.


Example of a drawing cast

The course I’m doing lists several sources of plaster casts, but since it’s based in America, most of the sources are US based, and the cost of shipping a heavy across the Atlantic can almost double the cost of some casts.

I spent a long time on Google scouring the UK for any suppliers who might be able to provide me with a plaster cast for a reasonable price. I only found three suppliers based in the UK, but there is a German supplier who is very reasonable, and there are some online alternatives which you might consider.

Here’s my roundup of the suppliers I found, as well as the American ones, which you may consider if you have the budget for it.

Plaster Cast Suppliers


London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA) – LARA have a variety of different sized casts, busts and reliefs, ranging from £45 for facial features to £195 for full torso casts. The casts are not listed on their website, but I emailed the school and they sent me photos of what they had available, and they look like they are great quality.

Lavender Hill Studios – Lavender Hill have a large selection on their website, but when I emailed, they only had five available, ranging from £120 to £285, and the quality of the casts didn’t look as good as the ones from LARA. Worth emailing for details though.

Plaster Cast Interiors – There’s a wide range of weird and wonderful plaster casts available here. Not so many classical art type casts, but you might find something suitable and the prices are very reasonable. Make sure you order the plain white finish.

Europe – Based in Germany, this is where I ordered my first cast from, due to the very low price. They also sell Nitram charcoal, which is supposedly one of the best kinds you can get, and it’s also very reasonable. Casts range from just 7 Euros to 23 Euros. The female torso doesn’t look amazing, but it would definitely work for cast drawing practice.


There’s a lot more to choose from in the US, you just need to watch out for the shipping costs.

Giust Gallery – These are great quality casts, and a great selection, where you can pay anything from $15 to over $4000, depending on your needs.

Philippe Faraut – These are also very nice casts, although the selection is more limited. I intend to buy either the male or female torso at some point, although the shipping cost is almost as much as the casts themselves. – A wide selection here at a variety of price points.

Utrecht – A small selection here, but what they do have looks like good quality and the prices are reasonable.

Fine Art Store – Another alternative, with some reasonably priced casts.

Online Alternatives

If you’re on a really tight budget and can’t afford any of the casts from these suppliers, you might want to look into online photo references.

This is definitely not ideal, as photos can’t portray the subtleties of real life, and some information will be lost, but if this is all you can afford, then it’s better than nothing.

Online Life Drawing now has cast drawing reference images, which you can view from all angles, giving you many different poses to draw from. A 2-day pass is just $5, but currently the cast drawing selection seems limited. Might be worth emailing them to see what they have available.

EnsoMobile is an iPhone app which also features 360 degree plaster cast images. The apps are only $0.99 each, so this is a very affordable option.

Learning Cast Drawing

If you want to learn how to do cast drawing, there is a great book called Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach, which has been a big help to me.

I hope this has been of some use in your search for drawing casts. If you know of any other good sources which I have missed, especially in the UK, please let us know about it in the comments below.

New More Affordable Pet Portrait Style

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Update (11/04/12): My pet portraits are now only available through – Please visit the site to see what’s currently available.[/box]

I’ve had quite a few people contact me since I started doing pet portraits again, saying that they would love to get one, but they just can’t afford to spend that much.

I would love to offer them cheaper, but for the amount of time it takes to paint a highly detailed portrait, I just couldn’t afford to lower the price.

However, I want to make these pet portraits affordable for more people, so I have been working on a new, less detailed painting style, which I can complete much faster, but still results in a beautiful painting.

The ‘alla prima’ style portrait is much looser and more painterly, with visible brushstrokes, giving it more of a traditionally painted look, which a lot of people will prefer. Here’s an example of the alla prima style:

Alla Prima Style

Alla Prima Style

As you can see, from a distance, the painting still looks pretty realistic, but if you click on the image to enlarge it, you will see where the brushwork has been left more loose, rather than being brought to a detailed finish.

These alla prima style pet portraits are now available for much less than the more detailed ones, and that includes a photo quality print. For price details and printing options, check out the pet portraits page

I’d love to know what you think of this new style. Do you prefer the more painterly appearance, or do you like the fine details? Let me know in the comments below.