Meet Mr Pickles, also known as Mr P. This young man is a bit of a man about town as he meets lots of famous people when he goes to work with his Mum who is a make up artist. He leads a celebrity filled doggie lifestyle and is adored by many! What a lucky boy!
So Mr P’s portrait was a surprise birthday gift for his Mum and being a dark brindle, charcoal suited him perfectly. I asked for a bit of background info, to get the low down on him and this is what his Nanny told me –
About Mr P
Mr Pickles is 3 on October the 23rd. He has quite a busy life and is a bit of a social butterfly, both his parents work in theatre or tv and sometimes he is on a tour bus for the day . He spends 2 days a week with his Nanny [me] in the country with his best friends Tor the visla and Hunter the crossbreed and they visit his Great Nannies farm where he meets cows, horses and turkeys and gets muddy on occasions!
About French bulldog portraits
Mr Pickles is actually a very dark brindle colouring so a very pale background was added. I used derwent white and light charcoals for this, blending together the two as I went along. It took quite a bit of charcoal to get it so smooth, and a bit of elbow grease!
As you can see I sketched out my guidelines with graphite which is easily covered by charcoal. Again I started work with the eyes, Mr Ps eyes are glorious, they really glimmer, I loved making them look liquid with my pencils. I used the white charcoal to add the highlights to give them a bit of life.
I then started work on Mr P’s fur. Using the charcoal pencil strokes to recreate fur, each line is in the same direction as the fur. Mr P’s fur is short and shiny so I made the pencil strokes short to match then used the white charcoal to add the highlights.
Mr P has a brindle chest so I roughed in the underlayer of charcoal (again you can see the direction of each stroke matches the fur direction. At the underlayer stage everything looks rough and unfinished but as extra layers are added, they soon become smoother and more fur like.
Here you can see the difference in the chest fur, it looks much shinier, smoother and refined simply due to more layers of charcoal being added. Lots of people find charcoal scratchy to use but as more layers fill the nap it does become more pleasant to use.
Not far to go now, you can see the different texture created on Mr P’s lower lip, shiny and smooth as apposed to furry, it all depends on the strokes used. To create a smooth area I fill in the section and then smooth it with my finger or a blending tool, could be a colour shaper or a tortillon to do this.
And here is Mr Pickles all done. He has already left to reach his Mum in time for her birthday so he’s a bit of a speedy boy!