I’ve just finished my first weimaraner pet portrait of Roxy. Roxy lives in the Forest of Dean and I was able to visit her at home to take my own reference images.
I spent a warm afternoon trying to persuade a reluctant Roxy that she should pose exactly as I wanted for my pet portraits, when I wanted! All in all, Roxy won by doing her own thing at all times but I did manage to capture a few fabulous shots when she forgot I had a camera! I usually meet Roxy out in the woods and she is equally as impartial to me there as well, having eyes only for her human Dad!!! In the end, the photo chosen for her portrait showed her exactly as she is, slightly aloof but loyal.
Colin, her owner decided she should sit in a green, forest background. I felt soft and subtle was the order of the day so as to balance against her fabulous fur colour, I thought that too vivid a green would drown her out. I used sennelier sticks for the background in three different greens, a peach and pale cream. I blended them with my fingers to ensure a smooth hazy appearance (love that bit getting all covered in pastels!)
I used all pastel pencils for Roxy herself, and although she has pale coloured fur, I added a burnt umber underlayer to ensure the light fur strokes on top would really stand out. Roxy has such an unusual colour I even dragged out my old version Derwent pastels (they’ve had two new ranges since!) to get it just right. I used several chocolate shades (yes it really is called chocolate) varying from light to dark, peach and some browns to ‘make’ her fur. The Derwents are so soft they really are a challenge to keep sharp and I’m afraid to say a few are now so used they are nearly stumps!
As you can see the underlayer really was quite dark in shade however it was pretty light in pressure as I laid it down to ensure I didn’t fill up too much of the nap of the Pastelmat paper so I could add lots of pale layers to make Roxy really pop off the page.
If you look closely at the umber underlayer you will see I used the pencil strokes in the same direction Roxy’s fur actually grew. This helps create the realistic look of fur, even these lower layers go towards building up a ‘thickness’ of the fur.
I used a peachy shade to lay most of the first layer, I did think I had almost gone too far at this point and maybe Roxy would be too bright however the really old Derwents were so soft, the chocolate shades just sat on top and toned down the brightness to the right level.
You can begin to see the darker colours being added back on top here especially over her shoulder. These darker layers helped to create the shape of Roxy’s frame. It was just a case of relayering until the correct contrast was achieved.
On the update above you should be able to see just how much of the darker shades I had to re-add. At the point I realised Roxy’s face was far too dark, I tend to get carried away not really noticing how much contrast I add until it’s strikingly obvious I’ve over done it! Hence I needed to go back to add some highlights! I end up going back and forth adding more layers over and over again until I am satisfied I’ve got it right. If I actually paid attention or stepped back instead of going blind to what I am doing I could probably save myself quite a bit of work!!!
And here she is all done. I’m actually very pleased with how this turned out, weimaraners have such unusual colouring it is difficult to get to grips with but I managed to recreate it with my pastels. Hope you like her! I think she’s a beauty, she is to be framed early next week so I’ll pop an update of her in her full glory at some point.
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.