My friends from the facebook group "Dog Owners UK" kindly donated the photos of their fabulous pets so that I could use them for an exhibition painting. After much deliberation I choose the photo of a Beagle named Ivory (Her pedigree name is Shelbydown Briony of Bizarte). Following is the stages that the portrait goes through in its creation. Normally when I undertake a commission these photos are shared with the client so that they can follow the exciting development of the portrait.
This is a simple charcoal outline drawing on a primed grey surface. I use charcoal because it is dissolved by the paints rather than pencil which can leave hard marks that can sometimes be visible when the painting is complete. At this stage it is difficult to see clearly what the picture will be.
This is the “notan” it is the light and shade to establish the form and values. From this 3 value (white, black and grey) under painting it is somewhat surprising how much of the information is conveyed. You can see that I am beginning to build the painting up in easily manageable steps.
For stage 3 I paint in any detailed areas such as eyes, nose, ears, mouth etc. One of the most demanding features is normally the eyes which are especially important on Ivory as her eye is such a beautiful feature. I like to tackle the most difficult areas first as they are most likely to need some rework as the painting progresses.
Stage 4 is the painting of the background. With pet portraits usually a simple background avoids distraction from the subject. Sometimes and in this case I have painted both stage 3 and 4 in a single sitting as there wasn't lots of fine detail to paint.
This stage is the painting of the main subject. My main aim with this painting of Ivory was to capture her expressive eye. The painting was made more difficult because it is set contre-jour. I hope that you like the results.