A local portrait of a beautiful and intelligent dog – Oscar the Cocker Spaniel – he’s a working dog. I wanted to paint Oscar in the summer but he had a very short hair cut and his owner I wanted to wait until it had grown a bit.oscar8I spent a lot of time getting the perfect shot with good lighting. His Mummy Claire had a hold of his collar and I got down to his eye level. Dog portraits don’t always look good if the subject is looking up at the camera – it can distort the shape of the face.
oscar-sitting

Above is the photo I used for the composition – it’s not quite in focus as he moved slightly but I had other photos for the details so it wasn’t an issue.

I wanted a fairly detailed background.   Lyndhurst, where the dog lives is surrounded by beautiful forest and trees – The New Forest so I was spoilt for choice somewhat! I chose Bolton’s Bench as Oscar walks there a lot and it’s also my favourite place in the forest – In the world actually.  It turns out I used to play here as a child and eat ice creams.  I photographed the background separate from Oscar and had to improvise with my coat – yes I got a few strange looks photographing my coat I can tell you!  This photo also helped me with some nice blues and light clouds for the sky.

coatphoto

Eventually, I found a wooden post about the right height and got a classic New Forest background shot that i was really pleased with.  Here’s Oscar very roughly superimposed on the background to make sure it would work.

oscar-with-bg

Now that I was happy with my composition, I set to work on Velour Paper – my ideal paper for dog portraits with Soft Pastel.  It works so well for animal portraits in general.

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My first task was to sketch Oscar and the background but I was itching to get started on Oscar and went right ahead and started working on Oscar’s eyes and ears.  I love painting eyes I can’t resist!

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Enough though! I like to get the background in so I can build the portrait up in layers – velour is very good for creating depth with lots of layers of luxurious buttery smooth pastels.

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This is the under painting – just to get colours and tones on the paper.  Great areas of white can be so intimidating so I like to fill the paper with colour early on.

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Then I set to work with the detail – the clouds in the sky – the iconic tree at Bolton’s Bench – so named because under the tree there is a circular bench, a great place to sit, run, play, eat ice cream and fish n’ chips!

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Now the grass and getting it to blend together so the near grass could be seen then fading away up to the tree.  I love the changing colours of the grass on this Autumn day – the yellows as well as the greens.

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And finally, working on Oscar’s coat perfecting his fur and freckles and not forgetting his beautiful curly haired ears.

I hope you enjoyed the making of Oscar’s dog portrait, if you’d like to commission a portrait for yourself or a friend there’s lots of information here and you’re welcome to phone me for an informal chat. Tel: 07740 282399

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