I was thrilled to be asked to paint Boris my first ever Chow Chow portrait.  And what a Chow he is.  Multiple champion in multiple countries, Boris is about as perfect a Chow as you will ever see.  Teamed with a fantastic personality he is definitely one of my favourite pooches I have met.
I went to photograph him at his home and he posed like a pro!  Hope you enjoy the progress of his portrait.

The finished portrait, Pastel on velour 16″x16″
My photo reference.


I love getting to meet and photograph a dog for their portrait.  It means I get to see their personality firsthand as well as seeing their true colours.  When choosing the background colour I used Photoshop to drop in a few shades behind him on the photo.  I wanted to have a hint of green, but making it a nice teal shade with more blue in it was so complimentary to his colours.  I think his rich oranges will zing really well against this.

Starting at the top of Boris.  As soon as I make a start I get an idea of just how long this is going to take!  Every single hair has a small wave to it.  I don’t worry too much about this in the lower layers and just try to mark in the general direction and those rich browns as the undercoat.  But it does help to have a quiver to the hairs even at this stage as it makes the next layers easier.

There are so many fine hairs around the edges of Boris.  These fly out over that lovely teal shade and make him pop off the page.  I try to keep working on the top part of his head so I’m never leaning on worked areas.  At this stage I’m picking out some of the highlights on his brows.

Already his rich orange colouring looks great on that teal.  He really is so like a lion!

Marking in the darks of his muzzle and nose area.  Always working dark to light and in this case there are so many overlapping areas on his face I’m trying to work from the back to the front as well.  This makes sense so that each new layer of hair will lie on top of the one below.

I’ve used some of the lightest shades of teal on his nose and muzzle just to hint at the light which would reflect off the background.  I will also use some of the lightest shade of teal to hint at the shadows under his mouth.  I think this will help him belong in this backdrop.

Making good progress now and starting to layer up this thick side of his head.  There are just so many layers that progress is slow and it takes me a full day to do a very small portion of his fur.  Unlike most dog’s fur I have to give myself the shakes while I paint.  It helps that the weather in Portrush is bitterly cold this time of year and shivering on command isn’t difficult!


I’ve finally made it to the bottom section and this area takes me another full day of very slow quivery mark making.  I’ve used Unison pastels for this entire piece and their range of browns to orange are fantastic.  There are about 5 or 6 different types of orange and 4 different browns.  I then have lighter yellows through to beige and my favourite Grey27 which is a yellowy white for the highlights.  I will use some more of the light bluey teal shade for under his chin and on his chest to hint at this being in the shade.

This is the light teal shade which is just a washed out version of the background.  It’s a bit dirty in this photo as my hands get the pastels very grubby where I hold them.  It’s been a long process on Boris, but I’m really happy with the result.  Patience is sometimes the best tool!

I hope you enjoyed my progress on Boris.  If you would like to enquire about having your own pet painted please get in touch at info@emmacolbertart.com.