This is a portrait I’ve been meaning to do for a long time and like in most jobs family projects get put further down the list when ‘paying’ work shows up!  But I thought I really must get on and do it as I had come to a point in my work where I could take a full week to work on this indulgence.

These are my mum’s three dogs Darcie, Charlie and Ellie.  Much loved by us all, most of all mum.  The photoshoot took place and I knew before I did it getting the pose all in one photo was going to be impossible.  They all shuffle around a lot!  So I had an idea of what I could do as a group and took them individually.  I sort of let each dog decide what to do with itself so the photos really do carry the character of the individual.

On Photoshop I pieced together a rough cut of the layout just to make sure I didn’t sketch one of them too big as can happen when working from separate photos.  I sketched my line drawing from this Photoshop cut and paste job and smoothed out any other areas in the fabric in drawing stages.

Hope you enjoy following the progress of the entire painting here.

‘The Girls’ 27″x16″ Pastel on velour


My photo reference showing the poses I put together


My line drawing on the velour.  It’s quite a big sheet to cover
so I’ve opted for the sandy colour velour as it’ll be easily darkened
to red. There is also quite a lot of black and tan which I like
working from this colour.


Working with the black Faber Castell stick I loosely sketched in
the shadow areas of the fabric.  I’ve then blocked in the first
layer of red.  I’ll spray with fixative after this stage.  I spray lower
layers a lot and really scrub them into the paper.


I’ve further defined the creases and it’s always better to go too dark
and dramatic first I think as this depth shines through the next
layers on velour.  Highlights go on with such ease.


I’ve gone over the dark areas with my next layers of red.  The
harder I blend, the more dark shows through.


I’ve then taken an orangey red for the highlight but not doing
too much highlighting as I want it to remain rich.


Between the last stage and this I was doing a demo
evening for Carrickfergus Art Club.  I brought the
painting along and did most of Darcie’s face for them.
Really enjoy doing demos as you learn from every
other artist you meet about the endless different
approaches to art!


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I’m relieved to get her paws in and think that they
might all actually look like they’re sitting together
afterall.  You’re never sure it’s going to work out,
but you do have a clear picture in your mind what
it could look like.  I think I need to tone down her
highlights just a bit although she is very shiny in reality!


Going white for a white dog from a mid colour paper is great
with pastel.  Unison pastel light colours are so lovely and soft with
great strength of colour.  I use the lightest creams, blues, oranges and
grey for most of the white dog.  No actual white except the
very odd hair or two.  She was photographed on red fabric so
she reflects a lot of warmth.  Quite often the case with a white dog.


Her colour scheme was what made the background choice red.
I’ve painted a badger in a poppy field before because of the striking
black, white and red effect.


Charlie’s wee foreshortened paws at the front of the picture
hopefully give a sense of them coming out of the painting
towards you.


Now for Ellie on the edge.  She is pretty much
a similar palette to Darcie so I get through her
face and head much quicker.


She is literally impossible to photograph any other way as she
leans out constantly trying to lick your nose.


A close up of all three faces.  Know these three characters so well
so it’s been a fun project!
If you fancy having your own portrait created get in touch or visit my website for more info.