I’ve been working on a pet portrait this week of a gorgeous Husky.  The client provided me with an excellent photo with lovely dappled light and a gorgeous soft chair backdrop.


The finished painting, pastel on velour 14″x18″
I’ve got my rough outline on the velour.  I’m trying out this deep
yellow colour as the picture has a real warmth to it even though
the colours in the Husky can be quite cool.  I’m hoping this will
keep it warm.
Starting with background and working forward.  You can see how
I build up the tones of the brown chair.  The chair in my photo
reference has a dotted pattern on it and I discussed keeping it
plain to let Hollie stand out more as it was quite busy.  I hope the
tone of the seat will just provide a nice surround to Hollie’s shades.
I want to keep the lightest highlights in the painting for the
really sunlit areas which are only speckled here and there.
That’s all the light areas and the rest of the brown tones
smoothed in with my fingers.  I’m using mostly big soft
Unison pastels.  For the blackest areas I love using a
Faber Castell black stick as it’s really dark.
This is how I’ve begun to build up the fur.  Husky
fur is so thick it’s going to take a few layers to get that
effect.  I lay down the darkest first following the
flow of the fur.
I like to work my way gradually down as it means I can lean while
I work.  Also, the way the fur layers up, it’s advantageous for other
reasons too in getting this effect.  I know that’s not the way a lot of
artists work as you can’t see all your values but I like this way
and think if something works well for you it doesn’t matter if it’s
the classically trained way or not.  I have also made sure that
my initial line drawing is pretty accurate in terms of the proportions
so I’ve got those guides there to keep my proportions from going off
during this stage.
At this stage I’ve got a good Husky face but it’s not quite
Hollie yet.  The tweaking stage for the expression comes next.
I’ll go back over this with blenders and a few choice colours
of pastel pencil to neaten and define the hairs.
That back section of the dog is interesting as most of her is in
shadow yet there is a sunlit stripe on her back end.  This will be
the brightest area in the painting.  Sometimes I find it useful to spot
the darkest area and the lightest point in a painting before you
start and judge everything off them as you go.
Although I’m using the pastel to pretty much cover the paper
entirely I’m going to let some of this orange shine through the
coat in small speckles.
Bringing the fur forward with lighter shades
Close up section of Hollie’s front.  This shows the dots of the
yellow paper which I left showing.  The other shades are yellows
light blues and violets.  The lightest highlight colour I used was
a Unison Grey 28 which is great as it’s warmer than pure white.

Hope you enjoyed the progress, check back soon for more 🙂