Meet the adorable Missy! A lovely little terrier who is my latest charcoal dog portrait. Missy goes to work with her humans and her reference photos were shot as she was at work in the office!!!
I had various ones to choose from, most of them with her sat on the office chair like she was the boss! Her Mum later sent the reference this photo which she said represented Missy better and I must say I did really like the pose with her little paws hanging over the edge of her very plump and comfortable looking cushion. Missy was drawn using charcoals which suited her completely being a little black and white terrier. I removed the units and background furniture and added a soft focus graded background so she was the centre of attention. Her Mum also asked me to remove her collar, I had already added it and was unsure about whether or not charcoal could be removed or reworked as easily as pastel, I’m glad to report back that it was!!
Making a charcoal dog portrait…
For the first time I used a coloured pastelmat rather than white just to see if it would be easier when working the whites of a charcoal dog portrait. It seemed much easier to do than retain whites on white paper so I will definitely do this again. I used my white stabile pencil to sketch out the outline and then used Derwent charcoal pencils and sticks.
I’ve found the Derwent charcoal sticks blend beautifully. They leave no harsh lines and although they feel slightly gritty, they leave a smooth surface which clings to the pastelmat. I used sticks for underlayers then pencil on top for the details. The pastelmat was able to take plently of layers and although I managed to get very messy, it was great fun and very enjoyable as almost a break from the many pastel portraits I’ve completed one after another.
The pink holder is a chalk holder, I’ve found these to be very inexpensive. If you search for pastel stick holders on the internet they are about 5 times more expensive, these you can buy in bulk at a very fair price. See I could have been even messier without these!!!
As you can see the white highlights of Missy’s coat on this dog portrait in charcoal really pop off the page, in fact it seems odd to say but the whites stand out more on anthracite coloured paper than on white. It really helped give this little dog form.
I loved working on this portrait so much I really hope to be commissioned for more charcoal portraits. I spent many days working on Missy non stop as I was enjoying it so much.
So here is the moment of truth, the signing of Missy’s charcoal dog portrait. This is only done after the client approves the final update and just before scanning, then either framing or packing. Thankfully Missy’s Mum thought her portrait was fantastic so I earned the right to sign my completed artwork. It’s always a special moment when I sign off a portrait, it means that soon after my subject will be zooming it’s way across countries, sometimes even seas to be reunited with a human. Sometimes these portraits are a memorial which are always an honour to be commissioned for and many of my clients have told me it’s like having their beloved pet back home with them, a very moving thing to hear. Luckily our little Missy here is still going to the office and being the boss!
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Behind the scenes…
So this is one of my favourite places in the Forest of Dean, the very beautiful Woorgreen Lake. At this time of year the path which goes all the way around it gets muddy. In years gone by this used to sadden me but now I think it’s wonderful, when it gets muddy, no one else visits, I get it all to myself! Look at this early morning sunrise, I walked all around the edge without seeing another soul, just lovely peace and quiet.
Again, another early morning shot just past the crossing near Drybrook Road Station. I set out very early in the woods and as such I see it before the many walkers, cyclists and dogs even venture out. Alas it’s getting darker in the mornings now but it’s also getting colder so fickle people tend to stay indoors and I still have it all to myself most of the time!!
And another beautiful little robin from my garden. We have many of these visiting us. I have bird feeders well stocked up all over my garden, as well as corn being readily available from our chickens so we are inundated with feathered visitors. The most I’ve ever captured in one shot though is two although I have seen three together but they were too fast for me
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