I was asked to paint a surprise portrait of a special girl called Tilly.  This piece was for an old friend from uni days and he was gifting it to his wife for their anniversary.  Tilly was their German Shepherd who they both adored.  I hope this little piece will be a loving reminder of Tilly in their home.

The finished portrait 12″ x 12″

The photo reference given to me by the client.  I loved the lighting showing the warmth of the sun hitting the back of her head.  It also made her profile shape stand out beautifully against the backdrop of blue violet.  The zingy orange from her coat against the blues works so well.  I decided to crop the image, remove that obstructive tree, and blur everything slightly. I hoped all that would help Tilly really stand out.  At the same time I wanted to still capture the essence of this scene as it has such special significance to my client.

I give myself a good outline of Tilly but don’t bother with the background.  Going to just block in the trees and work down from there.

Once I get the top line in I start to fill in some of that purple carpet.  A few shades of green and blue violets dotted throughout give it the impression without going into detail.

This past week we’ve been touring around Torremolinos and Marbella before heading down to Tarifa in the very South.  The two pups have had an active time with big town walks and beach strolls gallore.

Even squeezed in time for a bath.  While staying at a campsite i managed to get both dogs washed and all the laundry done.  Everything smells nice now, for a few days anyway!

Two freshly bathed pups…

I also had a special delivery from home this week.  My mum created Rusty our new van mascot.  I’ve been looking forward to having this guy hanging around for ages and now he’s here!

With my background finished I’m ready to start on Tilly. I like to get the background in first so I can feather out her soft edges over the layer I’ve got already down.

I start work on her face and work naturally from left to right.  It suits how I would normally work and lets me layer up her fur in quite a natural way.  Because her face is in the shadow I’ll save all the brightest highlights for the back of her head.

A bit more work done to the face and making sure that each little edge of her muzzle stands out crisply from the softened background.  A good sharp edge in front of the blur can really make the subject pop.

Now left with the back part of her head where all the highlights are.  You can see some of my darkest layers I put down first.  No need to be neat with the first layers, just generally in the direction of the flow of the fur.

Sharing a little picture of the piece before I got it packaged for posting.  It’s one of my smaller sizes and perfect for a head portrait like this.  Also sharing a little of the beach we were parked up at close to Marbella.  We’ve been so lucky this past month around the South of Spain.  The good weather definitely makes van life a little easier!

I hope you’ve enjoyed Tilly’s progress.  I heard that the piece went down a treat and even got the delight of seeing pictures of the opening ceremony!  It’s so cool to be let be a part of someone’s special occasion.  Happy Anniversary to them!

If you’d like to find out more about commissioning a painting check out the pricing page on my site at https://www.emmacolbertart.com/art-portraits-pricing/