This past couple of weeks have been extra busy. Since we entered Spain a few weeks ago I’ve been working flat out on a couple of secret commissions so my blog has been a little quiet. In that time though we’ve picked up a traveller on the road who we’ve named Hairy Maclary. I’ll tell you more about him later in this blog though.

This past week I’ve been working on a beautiful Cocker Spaniel called Rafferty. He has been such a delight to look at all week and I hope you enjoy his progression.

The finished portrait 18” x 14” soft pastel

I start by getting my outline done and then block in the grass area. I’ll probably leave the foreground grass until later as I’ll want the paws in before that and it makes sense to work from the top down.

Here you can see beautiful Rafferty and it’s a great photo reference to work from! I can see so much detail and it’s necessary on a portrait this size.

After I’ve layered in some of the grass around the top of Rafferty I begin work on him. I’ve simplified the grass a lot from the photo reference. It’s just not necessary to paint every blade of grass in a portrait like this. What I’ll do is make that background area lighter and slightly blurred so that it makes Rafferty jump out more. I’ll add a bit more detail in the foreground grass.


Sharing a little of Hairy Maclary’s story…

Further North in Spain while parked at a restaurant at a big Delta, along came a very scruffy, dirty, limping dog. We saw him do the rounds of the vans in the heat all day until he finally came over for a drink.

We got to know him while we were there and felt so sorry for him. He was too thin and covered in mats and ticks. Bit by bit we’ve sorted him out and after a trip to the vet we learned that he had no chip and needs his teeth out. He’s now travelled 600 km with us and will be visiting a vet in the South of Spain to have his operation along with getting him a passport. I did a Go Fund which raised more than enough to help him and some left over to donate to a local shelter down there who are helping me when we get there. Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to this on my Facebook page!

We are still unsure whether we’ll be able to keep Hairy Maclary (aptly named from a children’s story series) It is already a squeeze in the motorhome and it can be tricky having one dog. There are a lot of things we have to do differently with one dog and two who can’t be trusted in the van together may be too much. But he’s safe with us and having a great time touring the South coast of Spain. My aim is to help find him a home where he can have more space and a bit more stability. Hopefully some day I will have a patch of land to open to many, but for now we’re fostering Hairy back to health and he’s improving every day!

I’ll keep you up to date on his progress

I’ve been blocking in the darkest black areas first and then building up the lighter blues and purples on top. I’m using a very light lilac for some of the highlights here but I will come back in with pure white for the brightest highlights. The sunlight hitting him is really strong and makes him look so shiny.

You can also see our nice beach location just below Alicante. Hairy Maclary has already figured out what time dinner time is and how to get it!

The muzzle area is a good example of something white being sunlit on one side. I use a mixture of lilacs and light blues on the shadow side and save the pure white for the sunlit fur on the right. He also has beautiful rich orange tones on his tan areas. They’re really catching the sunlight so I use my zingy oranges.

For small detail in the nose and around the eyes I always use some pastel pencil. The Faber Castell Pitt pencils seem to go well on top of some pastel on the velour.

Blocking in more of the dark in his front. I use lots of deep purples in the blackest areas but also use some solid black.

The ears are tricky as there are so many intricate curls. Here I’ve used the black so far to block in the shapes of the curls and the darkest areas. Working up from deep purple to blue lilac the highlights are almost completely my light lilac. The top of his ear is hit by sun so I’ll come back to this with my sunlight highlights.

On the other side I start similarly with the darks first. But there will be a lot of brighter highlights here unlike the shadow side.

Getting there now and just adding a few rich purples into the dark areas.

I start to work on the legs now and those lovely chunky paws. The grass will come up over them a little and I’ll add that last.

Lots of zingy orange on this side of the legs. I love how a spaniels coat can be so shiny. I especially love Rafferty’s King Charles colouring, it looks so gorgeous on a Cocker.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing Rafferty’s piece come together. If you would like more information on having a portrait painted please get in touch at You can also see more info and a pricing guide at