I was asked to paint this very special commission for someone who has sadly lost both these pets.  Scooby the little dachshund was followed very soon after by Dylan the cat and left such a space in their human’s life. I hope that their portrait can bring her some comfort in seeing them on the wall every day and be a nice reminder of them and their close relationship with eachother.  Hope you enjoy their progress and a little bit of the German countryside I was travelling through while painting this.

Scooby & DylanThe finished painting 21″x 15″ soft pastel

IMG_0600This is the photo reference I worked from.  The red they were sitting on was very strong so we decided to make the background more neutral.  I’m so glad that Scooby got to keep his superman t-shirt on though, I think that really adds to his character!

Scooby1I start by sketching the pair out and I’ve moved Dylan a little closer towards Scooby in the composition.  At this stage I’m blocking in the neutral background.

Scooby2We decided to have them sitting on a blanket surface similar to one that is in the client’s house.  It is always tricky to change a background from the photo reference so I try to keep it as simple as possible adding subtle shadows in where I feel they would fall on the blanket.

Scooby3Starting with Scooby first and using my black Faber Castell hard stick to mark in some of his fur.  Not being too fussy on this first layer, it’s just to get the direction and flow of the fur and block in the very darkest areas.

Scooby4Starting to add some of the other colours onto Scooby’s fur.  The blues make great highlight colours on his black shiny coat.

Scooby5It is so important to me to capture both of their eyes just right as I really want their owner to feel she is looking at them.  The photo reference shows their eyes really clearly so I spend a lot of time getting each curve and tone just right.

Pic1This particular week we have been touring around the Black Forest.  This is a view of us parked at Schwarzenbachtalsperre a beautiful lake where we get a few days of nice weather.

Pic2My own little dachshund Brocci likes to check out the view in the mornings!

Pic3I believe this is a fritillary butterfly.  I loved how vibrant he was in the sunshine!


The view from the top of the dam across the lake.  The clouds looked like they were in a painting that day.

Pic5We could see this little cabin across the lake from us.  What a beautiful spot to live!

Pic6Some of the wooded hills surrounding the lake.

Pic7Brocci after some grooming in the sun.  I think it must be a dachshund thing to be a pro at posing!

Scooby6Beginning work on Scooby’s t-shirt.  The vibrant colours will be so nice next to his dark fur.

Scooby7This is Scooby pretty much finished.  Onto Dylan next.

Scooby8Dylan has so many shades throughout his light coat.  I put the darker tones of peachy orange and brown down first and later add the smaller light marks.

Scooby9Working on those gorgeous green eyes.  I use some pastel pencil to outline the eyes.

Scooby10A good bit more progress made on Dylan’s face and it’s starting to take shape.  It takes many layers to build up a cat’s fur as the hairs are so small.  I keep going back again and again to lighten and add more depth with smaller marks.

Pic9As we move from place to place Brocci likes to sit in her bed beside the window and let the wind blow through her ears.  Of course she is clipped into her bed for safety but she does love the breeze!

Pic10We arrive at another beautiful lake called Nagoldtalsperre.  It’s a glacial lake and while we’re here the weather is beautiful.  All the Germans come down to the lake that Sunday to sunbathe and play in the water.  I like how most shops are closed on Sundays, it still feels like there is a day for spending time together in Germany.  I think we have lost this in the UK which is a shame as you soon get used to it and it’s nice to see all generations out together.

Pic11This is the bend in the lake, it’s very long and shaped a bit like a boomerang.  I’m standing at the corner looking both ways.

Pic12We watched these sailors on the lake all afternoon.  The girl in the little boat must have been around 10 years old and was being instructed by her mum and dad in the other boat.  She was doing really well, but it looks difficult!


Back to work on Dylan and I’m making progress down his chest.

Scooby12Because the light is hitting Dylan from the left his chest will be in the shadow.  This area needs a lot more colours than white to create the effect.  It is also tricky as in the photo reference Dylan’s coat reflects the red under him.  I’m having to work out what colours would be on his chest without that red blanket there.

Scooby14The darkest area will be under his belly and between his legs.  I still want them to appear warm as his colours are quite warm but will need to add lighter tones over these.

Scooby16Starting to work down the chest and legs with my lighter tones adding smaller and smaller marks each time.CloseupsHere are a couple of close ups from the portrait to show you the detail in their faces.  If you click on the images in the post you will see them much bigger on your screen.

FramedHere is also a picture my client sent me of the piece all framed in a beautiful light oak finish.  I think it sets it off perfectly!

Thanks for visiting my blog!  If you have a portrait commission in mind you can find out more info in my ‘Pricing’ tab at the top of the page.  Or you can get in touch with me via e mail at info@emmacolbertart.com.  Check back soon for more work in progress!