Pet portrait of Jack for a returning customer.
Painting pet portraits in pastel
This is Jack, a lovely rescue dog who is the subject of my latest pet portraits from photos in pastel. This is for a multi returning customer who wanted a matching portrait which meant no background and on brown pastelmat. Luckily Jack’s reference photos were fab as the customer is a very good photographer making my job so much easier. The portrait is 8×12 inches and is to be framed. I used panpastels for the underlayers (if you scroll down you can see the tools and equipment I used) which makes a great base to work on. More Portrait from photos here.
At a guess I’d say there is some golden retriever in the mix for Jack however as a rescue you can never be sure but his fur is a glorious golden colour which was wonderful to recreate. I used lots of orange, apricot, cream, yellow, ivory and pink along with lots of browns for the shaded areas. This portrait was a joy to work on because of the lovely colours. You can see above how a portrait really does look very scary in the early stages sometimes so scary I can’t see the coming together and I feel slightly stressed at this point!
You can see the stick of wood I have to the side of the portrait, this keeps my hand from touching the surface of the pastelmat leaving it unsmudged and clean, especially important when there is no background as pastel is so dusty and easily transferred.
This is one of the tools I use to get into tiny areas, I am happy to use fingers as well but sometimes the areas are so small one of these is needed to get into a tight spot. These are clay modelling tools, these are soft and brilliant for working on pet portraits in pastel. I do have harder ones too which generally have a white silicon tip.
Jack’s portrait jumped on and off the easel quite a few times as it was ordered in plenty of time but this gave me the opportunity to fit in others with shorter deadlines. This did mean he jumped back on at a moments notice and I forgot to take progress shots for a while until this point. As you can see the fur has really come to life here and his chest fur looks very thick and luxurious which was created by adding many overlapping layers of pastel pencils.
So here you see the finished piece on my easel. It is the deep winter here in England so I had to use a flash which does alter the colours, you can the finished scan below.
See what a difference it makes! I always send a final on the easel shot to my customers so they can have a good look for any changes they may want before the final scan where they get the proper colours and even finer detail before their portrait is sent off.
Tools and supplies used for Jack’s portrait
Here you can see how my easel is used plus the tools and equipment which went into creating Jacks’ pet portrait. I used various colours in the panpastels. These are brilliant for underlayers, you can use sofft tools and make-up applicators (from the local chemists!) to apply light layers which can be built up for more depth. Panpastels are colour rich so less is needed then sticks and pencils to build up the full colour. Considering Jack is mainly golden in colour, you may find it surprising to see how many pastel pencils were used! Pastel isn’t mixed like paints so it’s helpful to have a large range of colours rather than trying to blend too many shades on the page (although you do end up doing this anyway!)
Behind the scenes in the portraits in pastel studio
I have two tool chests for my pastel supplies which sit on top of one another and to the side of my easel. Being on wheels I can roll it wherever I want making it easy to grab the items I need.
I have 4 drawers of sticks which are always well used, they are more suitable to use for soft backgrounds I find as well as sometimes for underlayers.
The panpastels come in 80 colours for their main range but they have now added metallics and a few other ranges too, I may have to invest in these in the near future!
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.