I was asked to paint Kobe the Chow Chow as a surprise present for my client’s friend.  What a joy to receive images like this to work from and I was so excited to hear the piece would be travelling all the way to Canada.  I’ve kept this from my page until now when the piece has been framed and gifted, so I hope you enjoy his progress along with some snaps from the South of Spain where I was during his progression.

Kobe’s finished portrait 19″ x 24″ soft pastel.

My client decided to go big on this, and it really has impact when you see it in person because of the scale.  It did however mean that I spent endless days on small sections of the piece because of the detail in his fur.   I think I spent an entire day on an eyebrow!

My first task as always was to give myself a rough outline.  I’ve tried to break his face into sections of fur to make life easier.

Beginning at the top I start with the darkest values.  It takes me a while to get going as I make a lot of colour decisions at this stage.

Now I feel more in the flow and I’ve decided on some lovely zingy oranges and browns.  My first layers are quite rough and the detailed quivery fur will be added on top.  My top layer requires a shaky hand!

During this time we spent about a month down in Tarifa on the most Southerly tip of Spain.  From here you can see Morocco and there are several great spots to park up.

The beach here runs for about 10km and either end is usually packed with kite surfers.  I don’t think I’ve spent time in a windier place and that’s saying something as I’ve lived on the North coast of Ireland.

There is nothing I love more than having a beach on the doorstep to explore in between easel time.  I always come back to the painting so much more refreshed.

You can see some of my initial layers here where I start to dab on some of the darker marks.

As I build up the layers, my marks get more deliberate and smaller.

I found on this painting I seemed to jump around a lot.  I think it was due to the scale and the detail.  My mind would go a bit crazy if I stayed in one place for too long.

But once I started to make some real progress and see the depth of the fur appear, I eased into it better.

This giant muzzle area took a whole day itself.  I use my lovely Grey8 Unison for those blue highlights.  This will contrast so well with all the orange around it.

Slowly but surely, working that muzzle area and often jumping to other areas where I notice something that needs tweaking.

Once I get his second eye in it really starts to take life.  His eyes are quite deep set so I used Photoshop to lighten them enough for me to see where to place the highlights.

Finishing touches now and it feels so good to have made it to the bottom right corner!  Sometimes I look back at paintings and wonder how I had the patience to not rush it.  I find my work quite meditative in a way.  If I thought too much about spending a day on a 3″ square I might think that ridiculous.  But when I work, time flies.

Here is a picture of Kobe and I with the beautiful sand dunes of Tarifa beach behind.  This is just before I package him up for his long journey to Canada.

Thanks to my fantastic client who is also a photographer, I got some amazing shots of Kobe’s painting in situ.

How absolutely amazing is Kobe?  I love him!  My only disappointment is that I didn’t get to meet him for a cuddle.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog and I hope you’ve enjoyed Kobe’s progress.  If you’d like more information on commissioning me to paint a portrait please get in touch at info@emmacolbertart.com or visit http://www.emmacolbertart.com/art-portraits-pricing/