This is where I am with my latest piece of dog art, a beautiful dog named Josh who has sadly passed away. I am honoured to be asked by returning clients to create a memorial of Josh for their daughter.
I’ve added lots of work in progress images below.
This is how my blurry backgrounds begin! It looks such a mess but it works for me! I use various tools to blend the colours together to create a lovely soft tonal effect which sets off my dog art.
As you all probably know by now, I feel the eyes are very important, they are the focus of most of my pet portraits so I usually begin with them. I like to make them glossy and shiny bringing the subject to life long before the piece is completed.
This is a bit of a sneaky look at my easel, giving you an idea of how I work. I use a tablet for my reference images, I find it so useful as I can zoom in and out for details and to ensure I have everything in proportion. I use an empty derwent pencil tray to keep all of the pastels in I am using so I don’t mix them up with my thousands of others! I use an off cut of pastelmat in the correct shade to test my colours so I know which ones to use before I make a mark on my support.
The ‘professional’ looking arm rest is a piece of beading left over from my studio renovations! I stuck a couple of blocks of wood to each end so it makes a bridge and doesn’t touch the pastelmat anywhere so I can’t smudge anything (I do have a habit of doing this!)
As you can see I’ve started mapping out the darker undertones and noting where the very lightest of highlights are. Sadly I am not at all organised and bop about all over the place although I use all the right methods, they are always in a funny messed up order! So long as the end result is the same I’ve given up trying to be more restrained!
I noticed Josh had a light ginger/brown shade to his muzzle so a very light layer was added as an undertone. I could add more if required or dampen it down by adding other colours on top.
Here I’ve started to add the darkest areas around the mouth area, I like to do this as it gives me an idea of where everything sits.
So after building up many more layers using the same techniques (if you can call it that) you can see how the colours of the muzzle have been rectified by adding a few darker shades. I’ve also worked the mouth area almost to completion so Josh is now looking more real.
More on my dog art in pastel. I’ve added more step by step photos and details.
Continuing my dog art in pastel…. As you can see I’ve built up more layers of fur on Josh’s dog portrait, his fur is longer to the sides of his face and on the neck. To achieve longer looking fur it’s simply a case of making the pastel strokes longer too. You can see the first stage of this piece of dog art here
Thought you may like to see me at work at my easel! This is the heart of my pet portraits operation and where I do my best thinking!
A quick view of my artist studio, as you can see it’s a very relaxed work space where my studio assistants have plenty of snooze breaks and comfortable seating! Across the back of the sofa are dog treats put out of reach otherwise they’d be scoffing all day as well!
As you can see I’ve started to add layers to Josh’s back. This is simply a matter of adding light strokes of pastel in the same direction as the fur grows. After many layers have been added in varying colours it does give the impression of individual shafts of fur.
At last Josh has a nose. I’ve added highlights to the top of his nose, and to the right cheek as you look at the portrait. This always helps make the subject look more 3d as it gives the impression of shape being in light or shadow.
I’ve started adding fluffy neck fur around the collar. It’s taking quite a few layers using all shortish strokes to create the volume (sounds like a shampoo advert!) but I can see the end in sight, plus Josh’s updates are receiving excellent reviews so I can carry on knowing I’m going in the right direction.
Thought I’d show you England in winter but on a non rainy day! Not too bad is it! However if I had added a photo of my feet you would have seen layers of mud up my trousers and wellies! This is the view from Flaxley woods out towards the River Severn.
And a quick pic of Willow in the winter woodlands! Just because she’s a beauty and because I can!
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.