So as you can see, I started with the background of this dog portrait. I used 4 panpastels all in a burgundy/pink colour but in varying shades ranging from dark to light. Panpastels are so easy to apply with sponges and blend very well. I started with the darkest plum shade in the lower corner, then graded lighter shades on top. Sadly my work in progress shots have been taken with a flash due to the awful winter light conditions so you can’t really see the proper effect. The reference photo wasn’t the best by any means, it was taken with light behind Maisie plus was a full body shot so a lot of the detail wasn’t there but the basic shape was so I just filled it in! Thankfully each update to Emma was responded to favourably so I knew I was on the right track!
I started with the eyes and made them look lovely and glassy with a bit of a shine so Maisie looked alert and as though she is looking directly out at the viewer, this makes the portrait look more realistic I think. Then I started working outwards from the eyes recreating Maisie’s lovely shiny fur, I think she uses Vosene!
I used many dark greys and various blacks (all blacks are not equal) as I found the derwent carbon black was no where near as pitch as the pitt black, plus somewhere in between was the stabilo black. I also used blues and even some yellow for the paler highlights, in fact a bit of everything, so much for being black!
I really loved working on Maisie’s ears, I could imagine the very soft fur to the touch which really helped me to actually paint them believe it or not! I really think it helps to know you subjects, even if you don’t have that particular breed in front of you at the time, your knowledge can go a long way to helping you with art. Maisie also has very shiny fur and I thoroughly enjoyed adding the highlights to her ears to make them look real.
I also found faber castell black is not always consistent. I found the faber black stick to be much darker than the faber pencil version. Considering they are supposedly made from the same pigment I did find this annoying. I appreciate more binder is added to the pencil but I didn’t realise it would make such a difference. Nevertheless it worked to my advantage as I was able to use the sticks to add some very deep shadows especially on Maisie’s chest and neck area. Here you can see more Labrador portraits.
Feel free to visit my gallery where you will find lots of completed dog portraits but if you like to see how they are made, visit my dog art blog posts where I show step by step updates from the beginning to end of each piece and don’t forget I offer worldwide pet portraits commissions.