Meet Katy-Boo. she has to be the whitest terrier I’ve ever seen! I have two of these myself and they are nowhere near as clean as this lovely girl.
Terrier pet portraits
Katy-Boo sadly passed away not so long ago. Her humans were absolutely distraught but having seen another terrier portrait of mine, they decided they needed to keep the spirit of her alive with a pastel pet portrait. They decided on having her painted in colour after seeing the pastel paintings of my own dogs, Poppy and Holly in the flesh and so the process began.
Katy-Boo’s portrait has to be the most difficult I have ever undertaken, Her owners were not too interested in the digital age and so had only a few very blurry mobile phone images to use. I would probably turn down this portrait under normal circumstances however, it seems I needed a challenge plus her owners just adored their girl so how could I refuse. I was very worried I wouldn’t be able to make the portrait look lifelike so I did explain it may not turn out to my usual standard but that I would do my very best. In for a penny, in for a pound, about time I stretched myself!!! As Katy-Boo is dazzlingly white I used a very dark support, anthracite pastelmat. I felt the contrast would ensure her white coat would positively glow. Apparently her owners had been asked if she was washed in Persil as she was so white! (Think my two terriers could have taken a few lessons from Katy-Boo in cleanliness!)
Katy-Boo had the most wonderful eyes, I think this was the reason the portrait had to be in colour, she was wall-eyed, one a lovely ice blue colour and the other a very soft brown. Her eyes were a great part of her personality, they were stunning. Of course, this is where I started, once her eyes were in place I already felt Katy-Boo was coming back to life. She also had mismatched ears, again another fabulous trait to portray, the first was spotty!
You should now begin to see how bright Katy-Boo’s fur was. It was a matter of adding some shadows to give the impression of shape to her face and ensuring each stroke of pastel followed the fur direction.
It was then just a matter of layering the greys and browns for the shadows to create the form then adding lots of whites, pale greys, yellows and blues for the highlights (no white is not just white either!)
Using the same formula of shading and highlights I continued work on Katy-Boo’s portrait and so far her owners were very pleased with the progress. phew!!!
Here you can see work in progress on Katy-Boo. She was ever such a good girl, sitting still for so long! You can see I still have my trusty bit of pastelmat to test out colours, it must be at least 20 portraits old now! Maybe I’ll treat myself to a new tester piece soon!
So here you can see Katy-Boo starting to really take shape. I’d been avoiding the nose area as her reference photo showed it as just a brown blob and I was a bit scared of it to be honest!
So here is Katy-Boo with her second nose. I had made the first version too shiny and wet, even the wrong shape, in fact completely wrong! Katy-Boo’s Mum trawled the internet for me to find noses similar to use so I could do some revamping! I think Katy-Boo was getting a bit fed up with not being able to have a sniff! So after a bit of remodelling, Katy-Boo got the nose she deserved and all was well.
I continued working down the chest area and as the reference photo showed Katy-Boo’s chest in shade I left it looking too dark. Her Mum asked for the shadows to be removed, she had managed to find a few more photos showing her in all her stunning whiteness and I set about relayering more highlights to achieve the request.
And here she is, looking beautiful, white, clean and ready to go home to her owners. During the process they went on holiday and Katy-Boo was emailed back and forth across the ocean as they were so keen to have updates! Here is what Katy-Boo’s Mum said on receiving the last update
Holiday has been fab, flying home tomorrow night. We think its spot on, the only trouble is it makes me want to cry it’s so lifelike. You have a huge talent, it’s amazing. Thank you very much and see you soon.
What a lovely email to receive, makes all the stress worthwhile and has given me confidence in my ability to create a portrait from a not so brilliant reference. Luckily the clients live very close by so I even get to meet them in person!
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.