Meet Murphy and Alfred, two very cute little terriers. Sadly Murphy has gone over the rainbow bridge so his owners wanted a unique memorial of him alongside his friend Alfred.
About Murphy and Alfred by their human Dad.
Both Murphy and Alfred were rescued from the Dogs Trust in Evesham. Murphy came home with us in 2004 (he had come across from Ireland to the Evesham rescue centre) and Alfred in 2008 (who was a dog warden rescue from Evesham).
Being lively, intelligent, rescue terriers, it has been a challenging and exciting time from day one. Murphy was loud, yet kind and full of beans for his whole 13 years – he went for a walk every day during the time we had him some extremely long walks!) and still, every walk was like his first – full of excitement and enthusiasm for life. Alfred on the other hand looks cute but has a silent assassin streak with other dogs – don’t be fooled by his eyes or his size! Alfred has looked like an old man from when we picked him up at 10 months old, doesn’t particularly like walking and is inherently lazy and loves nothing more than sitting by the fire in a warm pub. Two ends of spectrum – Murphy who hated to stop even for a chat with a neighbour in the village and Alfred who should have been an older persons lap dog!
About terrier dog portraits.
I was so excited to start this portrait, Murphy and Alfred’s owners wanted to show how much they loved their dogs and asked for a moon to be added to portray ‘Love you to the moon and back’ which I thought was so individual and lovely. They had noted a background on one of the other dog portraits in the gallery they liked and asked for something similar. Fabulous! Makes my job so much easier when I know what I have to do.
I used a combination of sticks for the background and the underlayers of Murphy, derwent, sennelier and faber. I tend to use quite a lot of pastel to achieve the soft blended backgrounds, the colours just smooth into each other leaving a lovely soft focus appearance but I do get quite messy! Lots of fun though! I used the seal derwent stick for Murphy and added the lighter coloured highlights on top. Sadly as Murphy has passed away, the reference photo his owners chose for his pose wasn’t the best however they did have a selection of other poses showing much more detail which helped out no end. Both dogs had tags but they were to be left out, luckily though they wanted the collars in, I love fiddly bits on a portrait so was very pleased to add them.
I used the white pitt pastel pencil for highlights, for some reason it showed up bright and clearer than the other brands I used on this portrait, maybe it was just a combination of layers that made it happen but it really brought them out.
Above shows how a few simple highlights begin to give Murphy more form and shape making him look less flat. He definitely had. a shiny black coat to portray. The highlights were added layer by layer to build up the brightness steadily rather than all at once and possibly going too far. This way I could work out the level of contrast as I went along.
Almost done with Murphy other than final highlights and his nose. As the evenings are now very dark, I left the nose as the reference was very difficult to see so I needed daylight to be able to see where I was going! Even with a daylight bulb, sometimes nothing but a good study by eye will do!
You can see I started to block in Alfred, however having got this far I realised the underlayer was not quite the right shade.
To rectify the underlayer of Alfred I used a deep brown panpastel and it was just perfect. I ‘painted’ it on with sofft tools which you can see below. I do feel like I’m painting properly with these, it’s very odd to do with a dry medium however a lot less messy for me!
Here you can see I’m building up the neck area with another layer of panpastel, the tool I am using is a sofft tool made especially for using panpastels, they come with renewable sponge tips so you don’t mix the colours and are very good as you can get into some pretty tiny spaces with the edge and point of them. They come in four different shapes so everything is covered!
So not far off now, you can just see my tablet I use for reference material. These are perfect for this job, you can zoom in and out to see plenty of detail which you can’t do with a photo.
And after adding more highlights on Murphy and a pair of noses here I am signing the portrait. I always use a colour from the portrait just so it doesn’t stand out, just kind of blends in with the finished piece. If you are a terrier fan or owner you can see more terrier portraits being made too!