This is a freshly finished dog portrait of a very special character called Pippa.  Hope you enjoy the progress…

The finished portrait 12″x18″ pastel on velour


My initial line drawing which I did on plain
cartridge paper transferred onto the sandy velour.


I’ve blocked in the background from furtherest
away to foreground so that colours build up on
top of each other.  The dog’s colours and reflections
will use a similar palette to the background as her
shine reflects the colours around her.
Working my way downwards.  I use a black Faber
Castell stick for really dark black areas.  I then work
forward in tone and the highlights go on last.


I use Unison soft pastels for most of my work but have a selection
of other tools to hand, one being pastel pencils.  The dark colours are
useful as are the light colours for dragging my bigger marks made by
the soft pastels into much finer lines.  Pastel pencils don’t really work
that well on their own for me, the softer pastels have the strength of colour.
But I can use them to shape and work smaller hairs or get a sharp edge
cleaned up.
Coming down the body and following the grain
and flow of the fur.  The tail and back legs must
come time about with the areas of grass so that they
all overlap in the correct way.


Starting to make more sense now as I block in the
foreground area.  Working in this top to bottom way
can be strange as you don’t have all the colours
there to balance it out.  But I quite like it as it starts
to come together and I do go back over and tweak
colours across the whole painting.  I keep the colours
I’m using out in front of me too so that the shades through
the painting are flowing.


Coming forward in the grass building it up in layers.
I don’t get too concerned about painting every blade
exactly how it is.  I try to be a little looser in the
surroundings so that the detail in the portrait subject
really stands out.


I’m creating the shadow area around Pippa so
that the effect of the light will finally make sense
and make her look grounded.  I use a plum
purple and deep rich green in the shadow grass.
This gives a warm shadow look.  If I wanted a cool
shadow I’d use a dusky blueish purple instead of plum
to cool it down.
The last bits of foreground and when the grass
overlaps the front paws she will look a part
of the scene.

Hope you enjoyed Pippa, I’m busy working on illustrations for a children’s book which I’ll do a blog on very soon!  Please subscribe at the side for more…