Sunday, 13 February 2011

Pooch - WIP 1

After lots of procrastinating I’m finally working on the pet portrait I’ve been planning on doing for a month or so.
I can’t remember the last time I painted a dog in watercolour (probably over 10 years ago!!) so I’m not expecting this one to be perfect but you can’t get better unless you practice the things you’re not comfortable with.
My source material isn’t perfect (start of the pre-emptive excuses lol) as it is a home printout which is only about 4” square, so I’m looking at this as a challenge on all fronts.

I prepared by doing a couple of sketches, first very loose and then slightly more detailed. Neither was perfect but that was ok as I just wanted to get a feel for the shapes rather than create a masterpiece.

Once I had the general layout on the paper I started drawing in the fur in progressively dark blues taking care to follow the flow of the fur… I’m working first on the black fur as I’m going to have to be a little more creative in expressing the white fur. I’m going to have to correct the right eye on my next sitting as it’s far wider than the left. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem and I left the details like the eyes until last so that I could make slight adjustments to their orientation as sometimes I find it’s easier to see that I’ve got it wrong after I’ve worked on the painting a bit and if I’ve already invested a lot of time to the details there’s nothing I can do to fix it.

Once I was generally happy with the black fur direction I placed a wash over some of the areas to darken them up and I placed a very light green base wash on the background.

In my next sitting I will be placing a second wash on the background, correcting the right eye and working more detail into the black fur. At the moment I think that I may have made the head slightly too squashed but I’m going to keep working and see what happens. I often don’t like my work at this stage so I’m getting used to pushing through the self doubt and hoping for the best.

I’m already thinking of the next couple of paintings I want to work on and am going to start working on preliminary sketches for both soon. I’ve found working on a portrait from a photo quite restrictive so my next too paintings will be far more in the realms of plopping things straight from my head onto the paper.


  1. For such a project one needs time, a steady hand and talent with lots of practice. To find Light for life one must consider that God loves us and His son Jesus the Christ died for our sins so we would not have to pay the price. We get to chose to pay or to accept his payment. Our way or God's way. Life is short and eternity is forever.

  2. Nice work, Tessa!
    Remember always that you are Loved, regardless of your beliefs.
    Love and Light to you and everyone.

  3. It is a pretty start considering that you have a less than perfect reference photo. I can't stress enough the importance of having the best reference you can get. It is easier to change things in a good reference than it is to improve things from a poor reference. The photo has a soft quality, though, which you could incorporate nicely in a watercolour portrait. Let some edges be soft and flowing. It's going to be sweet!

  4. Thank you all for your kind comments :)

    I would like to respectfully ask those posting on this blog not to reference religious beliefs if at all possible. While I have a great deal of respect for all religions and every individuals right to their beliefs, I would hate for words kindly meant to make those of different beliefs feel uncomfortable. I hope you will all respect my wishes.

    Karen – Thank you once more for your words of wisdom. I know you’re right about the reference photos but in this instance there was little choice as the pooch in question is no longer with us. I’ve been thinking along the same lines as you regarding need for some softening but I wanted to get some structure into the fur before I started putting softer washes over the top. I will also be using white straight from the tube to pick out all those grey whiskers which I think will give him more depth and make my painting look mote like the subject.