So the rest and relaxation was quickly over and back to the work today. Partly due to a bout of illness right before Christmas, this portrait and Fergie’s horse portrait would have been started at the end of last week if life hadn’t thrown in the curve ball! 

Alfie is the be my first dog portrait to be gifted in the New Year, so I have to get cracking with him now. He is a beautiful red boxer, I haven’t painted a brindle for a while. Maybe one will come my way some time in 2020. I hope I get some new subjects I haven’t painted before, like I did last year.

Starting of Alfie’s Dog Portrait

Back to Alfie’s dog portrait. I have started with his outline. Just re establishing the shapes around his face. I have used two colours for this process. Burnt Carmine by Derwent, which is proving a new favourite for pet portraits and black for around his eyes, nose and muzzle. When these have been re-drawn, the blocking in of his colours can be started. Lots of beautiful colours to be used on his pet portrait and I will provide a list of colours used for anyone interested. A lot will be used for Fergie’s horse portrait too.

Outline drawing of recent dog portrait, Alfie the Boxer, in pastels

I have started in with some of the blocking in on Alfie’s face now. I tend to jump all over portraits, but to be honest the chest area is quite simple, so doesn’t really need much outlining. I will do it, probably tomorrow. I think I am tired which does make my concentration go a bit funny. Nope, I am feeling exhausted. I got a lovely teapot for Christmas as I was horrified to learn tea bags are made out of plastic. I like to try and do my bit for the environment whenever I can. But, BUT I am so tired I tried to pour my tea without a tea strainer. Sigh. Granted it’s been a long time since I have used a teapot, but really! I think that is my body telling me enough is enough for tonight. I must listen to it sooner as I have been ignoring it for a few hours, but I definitely can’t resist any longer. Back to Alfie tomorrow. I can’t burn out as my pet portraits order books are full!

I knew I was tired last night, I am not sleeping well at the moment anyway, but it really told when I slept in until 11am today! That is unheard of these days. 9am is the latest normally.

Anyway it meant a bit of a late start on anything pet painting wise sadly. I didn’t get as far with the portrait as I would have liked, but good progress has still been made. The chest area has received some work and as you can see I am filling in the shaded and hightlighted areas, also paying attention to the direction the fur lays. This gets mention a lot I know, but it really won’t look right if the pencil strokes go in a different direction to the fur. It gives an idea bone and muscle structure beneath and of course if that is wrong you could end up with a very wonky looking dog! Some detail has been started to be picked out on his face too.

Progress on the dog portrait of a boxer Alfie in pastels, focusing on hhis chest and neck

Main colours used today were carb othello 681, pale flesh is it’s name perhaps I can’t remember. It is my go to for highlights on most coloured fur. In fact I am pretty lost without it. It works so much better than white. I save white for the really white bits! No not the bikini line haha!

Derwent Chocolate. Another colour that is used for most portraits, it seems to be a blending colour. Often mixed with another to create a shade I want, also effectively glazing with it,or as near as you could ever glaze with pastels. What I mean by that is softly applying it over a section of the portrait to sublty change the shade. Not pressing so hard it covers the colour below, but lightly enough that it can be seen through it, hence changing the colour slightly.

Eyes, The Windows to the Soul

Eyes are THE most important part of all of my pet portraits. They show the personality of the dog, whether that be kidness, playfulness, gentleness or even sadness. They are what makes any pet portrait come alive. So never neglect the eyes. 

Below these tow photos maybe of interest. The first picture is of Alfie’s eyes with the base layers of colours down, but with no real detail. Tone has been established, catchlights of the eye placed in and proportions mapped out.

Boxer dogs left eye

The second image shows the next few layers, after the detail has been added. You can see all the little pencil strokes going in the direction of the fur, picking out the highlights and the darks of Alfie’s fur. It is the first two or three layers that give the animal weight, depth and dimension. The next few layers where the detail is picked out adds the realism, the final touches that really make the portraits come to life.

Eye with detail added on the boxer dog painting

It has been a hectic few days and I haven’t really had a chance to come back annd update the blog. Alfie is now finished and all posted off today to be given as a gift next week.

Finishing Up Alfie’s Dog Portrait.

The process of blocking in and then adding details was continued through out the portrait. The back ground colour hadn’t been decided, but at the portrait progressed it was to be a light background either simialr to the colour of the paper or a blue/purple. I opted for the blue in the end. I didn’t like the pale brown when applied. I think after many years of doing dog portraits you get a feel of what colours work and don’t. 

When his pet painting is nearly finished I add the background, if it hasn’t been painted in first. I really should do the backgrounds first but I am a sucker for getting on with the fun bits first.

By adding it before it is completely finished, I can bring the portrait together by making sure there is no hard edges between the subject and background, any ove lapping fur can be added so it looks like the background is excatly that, in the background. I also add any finished touches to the portrait which may have either been smudged or lost slightly when the background was put down. When that is all done I can sit back for 24 hours and revisit with fresh eyes. A few tweaks were made and here is the finished portrait. He is a handsome boy, and his eyes are so soulful!

Please take the time to view my other dog portraits in their gallery and get some ideas for a pet portrait of your own!

Alfie, dog portraits in pastel, A red boxer dog with a blye background
Don’t forget if you are interested in your own pet portrait commission you can contact me here