This is a dog portrait progress.  I went to meet Ringo and take his photo which is really the best way to do a portrait.  To meet the subject enables me to try and inject some of his character into the painting.  It’s always the subtle things in a portrait that make it look like them.  With dogs I find it’s as much about the eyebrows as the eyes themselves as this is where a lot of their expression comes from.

The finished portrait 12″x18″ pastel on velour


I took the photos of Ringo in their yard which
gave me nice greenery to use in the background.
I’m going to do a very blurred background so that
Ringo really stands out.  I’ve got my line drawing on
the velour and ready to go.


I want the backdrop to be really deep with the green
leaves sitting out towards us.  I’ve just blocked in
the black and softened it with some plum purples.
I’ve then started using the flat edge of a dark green
pastel to mark in some leaf shapes.


The background leaves were really simple and
I haven’t overdone them or tweaked them as I want
them to look soft and out of focus.  I used the flat end
of some lovely Unison green pastels to create each leaf
in one mark.


I love painting black dogs as their reflections and
shine really give them form.  I start by laying down
the blackest areas making the marks follow the hair
direction.  Then I start from the dusky blues right up
to the highlights.  I tend to work quite small areas
from left to right and top to bottom just to save
leaning on work I’ve done.



Both eyes in he’s looking out now.  I still use the
fat Unison pastels for the smallest areas, just search for
small corners or sharp edges.  I then neaten and strengthen
the dark areas with pastel pencil.  I can also use lighter
pastel pencils to neaten and clean up clumsy large
marks if needs be.


With that highlight on the nose it really brings him
into 3D.  I’ve used a really light yellow for some of
the strongest highlights including the nose.


The body is going to be quicker than the face to do as not as much
of it is being hit by daylight and therefore there is more solid black
like under the chin.  I find this contrast makes sense of all the
highlights on the dog’s face as that’s what is having the most
light hitting it.


Throughout his coat I’ve used a plum purple in
the darkest areas of black as it adds a warmth and
richness to the dark.  The highlights are different
shades of blues, lilac and yellow.  No white was used.


The collar is last to go on.  Using pastel pencils to create the
clean lines and will use softer pastel to create the leather and
the shine on the buckle.
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