I was asked to create something from an old photograph of a childhood pet.  The difficulty in working with old photographs is usually getting enough detail to get a good likeness.  In this case I thought I could see enough to be able to get Blacky’s face and expression but the foreground I felt needed a little tweaking.  I wanted to bring the apple slightly into focus but still give the impression that the middle ground is still where the main focus is.

Hope you enjoy the progress!

The finished portrait, pastel on velour, 12″x16″


The reference photo.  You can see I used a different apple
shape to make it more obviously an apple but used similar lighting
so it tied in with the painting.  Now I can eat this apple on my desk!


My line sketch transferred onto yellow velour.  I’ve blocked in
the whole background to start.  I want to build up many layers
of loose marks from dark to light to give the impression
of all the leaves although I’m not going to make it quite
as busy as in the photograph.
I’ve used quite a limited number of colours in the background.
About 5 shades of green, some dots of red and orange,
some light blue highlights as well as some yellowy
white highlights for the brightest sunlit leaves.
I want to make sure I use these colours again in the dog
and the foreground so it ties it all together in the same light.


Blocking in the darkest areas of black and starting to pick out the
highlights along the top of his head.


There’s only so much I can do with his right side as it’s in
darkness and no matter how I adjust the reference photo
I can’t really see that other eye clearly.  All I can do is make
it as dark as the photo, and try to get the other eye accurately
which is in clear sight.



Almost there…leaving the foreground a little looser so that
the main attention is given to Blacky.
Hopefully I’ve done enough to create something memorable of Blacky.  I really want to know if he ever got hold of that apple! 🙂