I had the joy of creating a surprise wedding present this week.  The subject is the most adorable chocolate labrador called Coco.  The photo the clients gave me was so cute.  This view point where you are looking down on the dog doesn’t always work.  But in a few cases it works to great effect and I think this is one of those.  It seems to accentuate the ‘puppy dog eyes’ look!  I’m sure Coco is quite a bit bigger by now so I hope this picture is a lovely reminder of the cute puppy he once was.

The finished painting of Coco.  12″x16″ Pastel on velour.


Using the yellow coloured velour for the first time.
I think it’s the perfect undertone for the tiles.
I’ve got my line drawing onto the velour.


Building up the tiles.  I’ve used blue tones in the
shadow area.  There is no blue in the reference photo
I’m working from as it’s taken in indoor lighting.
By adding some subtle blues in the shadow and
the shadow side of the dog it will add some
complimentary colours to go against the orange tones.


I’ve lightened the tiles and given some idea
of where the main light is coming from.  The velour
paper I’m working on is great for marbled tiles.
I can use a big pastel lightly on it’s side to cover
the paper in a mottled way.  Then I blend this in
to smooth the surface.


Starting at the top left I start building up the tones
in Coco’s fur.  I use a black Faber Castell stick to
sketch in the main grain of fur and then build the
brown tones up from there.  I also feather the very
small hairs out over the edges over the tiles.  With
labradors the hairs are really short on the face so I
will spend a long time neatening up.


First eye in and what a sweet one it is!  Coco’s
expression is so innocent so I really want to capture
that big wet eyed puppy cuteness!


Working my way round the top of the head and then
downwards.  Following the gradient of the fur
will give the 3D appearance I’m after.  The fur follows
every structure under the skin so placing eyebrows
and muzzle lines in just the right place is important.


Working on the second eye.  I use a pastel pencil
to outline the dark lines and then work my way
into the centre.


Both eyes in and I’m working my way down the face
always defining the fur from dark to light.



You can see how I have all the colours out in front
of me.  This is why I like a table easel for pastels
as they are conveniently just under the painting
while I work.  It’s one of the reasons I can work so
quickly as once I figure out the palette it’s like having
all my paint mixed and ready to go but with no
waiting for paint to dry before working the next layer.


That sweet face is finished apart from the whiskers
which I’ll add at the end with a good sharp pastel pencil.


Working my way down the body.  I’ve used the same
dusky blue that’s in the shadow down the dark side of
the dog while the lighter side has warm oranges.
It’s good to try and make use of the opposite colours
for some harmony in a painting.


This is the homemade package I’ve created for gifting
a portrait unframed.  Sometimes customers prefer to
let the person who is getting the portrait choose their
own frame so it’s important that I make it easy for
them to keep the pastel safe until framed.
I’ve also started including a little info sheet on caring
for pastels both framed and unframed as customers can’t
be expected to know this and it gives me peace of mind
to know they are equipped with what little information
needed to ensure the pastel’s lasting quality.


Inside the packaging


Coco close up.  Awwwww!

Hope you enjoyed the progress of Coco.  If you’d like to arrange a portrait of your own please do get in touch.  I’m loving all the dog portraits at the moment but I do paint people too.  Have a look on www.EmmaColbertArt.com for further info.