This is the first of my Christmas commission posts and it seems strange to go back and look through Louis’ progress pictures and the snaps of where I was travelling when I painted him.  It takes us back a little in my journey to the Italian Riviera which was a place I loved visiting.

Louis is the beloved pooch of my client’s boyfriend, and this was to be a big surprise for Christmas.  I hope the gift has been well received and that you enjoy seeing his progress.

Louis finished portraitLouis’ finished portrait, soft pastel 12″x12″

louisphotoThe photo reference of Louis.  We decided to crop the image to just a head portrait and I also deepened the colours behind with rich olive greens to keep the focus on Louis.

louis1As always I begin with my line drawing sketched out onto the velour paper.  I like to work from the laptop screen as I can zoom in and see all that detail.

louis2Background in using thin layers of olive greens, black and a light yellowy white from Unison called Grey27.  It takes many layers before pastel will move around on velour but once it can be blended it does so in a lovely soft manner, just what pastel is great for!  I tend to always start at the top right of something like this so here I am making a go for it on his ear.

louis3I have worked his ears here with the dark black and then the light tones inside.  I actually had some other photo reference of Louis to help with some details like this.  You can see my early layers starting on his face and that just requires me using a black Faber Castell stick which is a little harder than the Unison, and I block in the darkest areas.  I also start to create the flow of his fine fur up and around his forehead.

pic1When we left Florence back in October, we headed for the Italian Riviera, planning to make it around France and into Spain before Winter sets in.  This was the first place we stayed on the Riviera at San Rocco.  We ended up parking here for a few days as we managed to get a great spot with this view!  I thought, well if I have to work lots this month I might as well have great studio views!

pic2Some of the views over Camogli.

pic3We found the Italian side of the Riviera so beautiful.  All the buildings sit so perfectly into the mountainous landscape.  pic4pic5pic6After a few days of grey skies, a lovely sunny day with a perfect sunset is a great way to leave this place.

louis4Working on Louis’ eyes now.  Again I’ve been referencing other photo reference to make sure I get his eye colour lovely and rich, just how they are.

louis5Both eyes in and I can start to work the rest of his face. Once I have it all in I will go back over, neatening and refining any hairs I can make finer.  Like most smooth coated animals it takes a long time to create that effect whilst not losing the definition.

louis6Working on down his body and making good progress now although I know that his nose will take me a long time!

pic7We travelled on round the coast to a town called Celle Ligure.  We have clear blue skies for a few days which makes everything so much easier in a motorhome!

pic8pic9Watching the sun set with a cool view over the town.  We managed to find an empty car park up on a hill for the night.

pic10Next morning we’re up bright and early and back to work!

louis7I decide to finish off Louis’ body below his chin where it is a little less detailed anyway.  Also I want to have this done before his muzzle so that it sits on top of that area.

louis8Starting the detail on the nose area.  I’ve just lighting rubbed some black over the whole area.  I use some pastel pencils for the very smallest details on his nose and also to move pigment around on the paper.

louis9Most of my small marks are still made with the bigger soft pastels, but using broken or worn pieces.  Some of my best pastels are tiny as I need their sharp edges for small detail like this.

louis10Putting my finishing touch on there.  Hope you enjoyed Louis in progress!

pic11Leaving you with one final image from the Italian Riviera.  Jumping out in the middle of heavy Italian traffic has never been more worth it 🙂

Please call back soon for more of my progress posts, more Christmas work to follow soon…