What a delight this Parsons Jack Russell called Dexter was to draw. I know just how precious a dog is to it’s family, and Dexter is a very much loved pet indeed.
This portrait was commissioned as a Christmas gift for Dexter’s people. The client and I carefully chose the best reference images to capture his personality and to ensure that we could see those patches on his ear. It is the little markings and details that make each of us the individuals that we are, so it is crucial to pay close attention to them when creating a portrait.
At each stage in the creative process I shared my work with the client so that she had the joy of watching it develop. This also gave her the opportunity to ensure that the artwork was exactly as she wanted it to be, it makes for a fun collaboration between artist and commissioner.
I chose to draw Dexter in pastel as this medium really suits capturing both the wiry hair and the softness of the parkland in the background.
You can see in these four stages how the beginnings of an artwork are loose and rough, this is where I block in the main shapes and lay a foundation to build upon. From there I add layer upon layer of pastel. These layers allow for blending of colours and as they develop, and they bring an increasing amount of texture with it.
The background was drawn in at the half way mark, this allows me to refine the shape of Dexter’s outline and ensure that there won’t be any gaps where the white of his hair meets the green of the foliage. From there on it is all about refining and creating the tiny details. The wispy hairs all around give shape and movement to his coat, and the engraving on his name tag adds a more personal touch.
I know that this portrait will be cherished just as Dexter himself is. And I was delighted to play my part in such a meaningful gift, that the client was thrilled to be giving to her son and daughter in law.
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Dexter is a very handsome Parsons Jack Russell. As a much loved family dog, this commissioned portrait was the perfect choice for a thoughtful and personal Christmas gift.
When I met with the client who commissioned this portrait, she had a number of beautiful photographs of dear Dexter from which we chose the best reference images. We wanted to capture his personality and also to show off his markings, including the tan spots on his ear, so agreed on this pose and composition. I love how he looks both alert and relaxed, and I can imagine him bounding around the park having the time of his life playing with his family.
Dexter’s portrait has been drawn in pastel. This medium lends itself to capturing the rich colours as well as the wiry textured coat which is so distinctive of a long haired Jack Russell. And it blends beautifully to create a smooth and creamy backdrop of soft focus trees, giving a sense of time and place as well as a rich colour for Dexter to stand proud against.
As someone who really loves dogs and relishes every opportunity to make a new canine friend, I had a wonderful time studying Dexter and drawing his portrait. I know that this artwork is treasured by his family, and will serve as a lasting celebration of a very special pet.
This handsome little Parsons Jack Russell is Dexter. He looks a little washed out here as his portrait is only half complete, he will fill out in due course. I have been commissioned to draw Dexter for a gift. Sadly this dear dog passed away last year and he is sorely missed. I hope that his portrait will be a fitting memorial to him, and can bring some small comfort to his owners.
I will be sharing the finished Dexter with you soon. Till then I will continue enjoying building body in all this wiry hair, and giving Dexter some context with a background to really help him stand out on the page.
I think that this portrait speaks for itself, Miss Bonnie is just irresitable! For me, portraiture is about finding an emotional connection between the subject and the viewer. Sometimes this is deeply sentimental or nostalgic, and other times I aim to make art that generates a big smile.
Ever since I painted my pastel picture Chewing it Over, starring a rather comedic looking giraffe, I have wanted to create a series of artworks with bright blue backgrounds and cheerful animals. Bonny Miss Bonnie is the second artwork in this now growing range of gleeful pictures.
Dear little Miss Bonnie is so full of life, almost bounding onto the page as if just popping up to say hello or to ask us to play. Her joyful expression makes me smile right back at here every time I see her, so I created this artwork to share the Miss Bonnie love and to brighten all of our days.
For this artwork, I used pastel pencils and worked on Pastelmat, whereas previously my pastel work was predominantly on velour paper. It was, I have to say, a very steep learning curve. I now understand Pastelmat a lot better than I once did, and am excited about the possibilities it offers me as an artist to work to a high level of detail with pastel. Miss Bonnie is just the beginning.
Many thanks to Tracy Lian Miles, Miss Bonnie’s human, for the wonderful source image.