I was asked to paint Montie the labradoodle and his million curls.  The shot chosen for the portrait included a real challenge of a background with lots of water.  But I loved the idea of it and Montie’s colours stand out so well against all those Irish greens!

Hope you enjoy his progress…

The finished painting 19″x13″ pastel on velour


This is the reference photo the painting is taken from.  I tried many
different crops but I really wanted to have a bit of the background right down to the
foreground whilst making the dog a little bigger too.  I eventually
straigtened up the horizon line and cropped the image in a portrait shape
allowing just about all of the circle of splash below Montie to be visable.
I also placed the golden ratio line where the splash is as I think it places
Montie nicely above that line in the upper two thirds of the painting.
This is my rough sketch transferred onto a
sheet of the light grey velour which I stretch
onto self adhesive mountboard first.
Beginning in the background.  The main colours
in the background and water are greens and purples.
My two favourite colours especially when together!
Starting to work some of the reflection downwards.
Here’s a tip for reflections.  Make sure you keep all
the little short lines as horizontal as you can for calm
water.  If they are wonky the reflection will look off.
This is really just stripes of short lines all placed next
oneanother.  I try to make sure that the bright splashes of
colour up above the water correspond with the bright
splashes in the reflection.
Starting to see the subtle curve from the left
where the splash ripples out from Montie.
Think I need to make it more subtle, this is
starting to look too bendy.
Once I start to add some of the brighter
reflections it begins to take shape.


 Laying down a base area for below the
splash.  I can see Montie’s shadow in the areas
between the splash so I put this in now.
 When I start to add the light blues and
yellowy whites the space between shows
that first dark layer I put down.
 Onto Montie at last need a break from that water!
Because of his scale there is not a lot I can do in terms
of detail.  Thankfully he has such a great posture and
crazy curls he makes quite an image from a distance.
I’m just laying down small dark marks first and gradually
coming up in colour value through the warm red browns
and oranges I’ve chosen.
Small highlights here and there will start
to add a sense of depth.  His nose picks up the brightest
highlight and round the edges of his coat seems to
almost glow.
 Down his chest I use one of my favourite Unison colours
Grey 8 for some shadowy highlights.  Most of Montie has been
painted with very small marks which I make with quite a lot
of pressure and rub into the paper with my finger.  Not much
blending has happened here and the velour does allow me
to rub a mark in without it softening or blurring the mark
too much.  This is why I love velour!
Close up of the finished painting