Monday, August 18, 2014

In Loving Memory of Louie, a Terrier

People sometimes ask me to paint a picture of their beloved pets.  In this case, Louie died unexpectedly when he was quite young.  Fortunately, his mistress and her relatives had many photos of Louie, including one that was perfect for me to work from.

I started by using acrylic graphs to enlarge the photo.

After I had drawn Louie carefully on tracing paper over the left graph, I used a drawing pencil to blacken the back of the tracing paper.  You can see the blackened back through the tracing paper.  I blackened most of the head area because I knew I wanted to draw in a lot of details.  I laid the tracing paper on 140 wt. cold-pressed watercolor paper and  traced over the lines I wanted as a guide.

Once I had a light pencil outline of Louie, I painted over the outline with a pale wash of Cobalt Blue.

In the yellowish tan areas, I used a mixture of colors, mostly Burnt Sienna and Quinacridone Gold.  If an area such as the inside of the ears seemed to need a red cast, I added a bit of Quinacridone Red.

For Louie's eyes, I used Quinacridone Gold, then Burnt Sienna.  I made the black for the iris using Burnt Sienna and Cobalt blue.  In a few places I mixed the Burnt Sienna with Ultramarine Blue.  I reserved the white highlight in the eyeballs with Maskit.

Several times I traced over Louie's head with marker on tracing paper to be sure I was happy with the placement of the shadows.

I played around with the eyes for several sessions.  Eyes are very important in any animal portrait.

My daughter suggested that the ears needed to be a trifle bigger.  A line as slender as a sixteenth of an inch can make a big difference in getting an improved likeness.

You probably have noticed that the first layers of paint on Louie's face are Cobalt Blue.  As I added more layers, I added Burnt Sienna to the blue to get Louie's black spots.

Louie's favorite blanket was red and gray striped.  I simplified the pattern.

I didn't have his blanket but I had another striped blanket.  I draped it on a stand so I would know the likely directions for the stripes.

The blanket took a fair amount of time to paint since I had to keep in mind that the stripes would appear smaller in the distance.  I was inventing as I painted.

After I finished the blanket, I painted the final details of fur on Louie's body.  The  painting is 18 inches (45.72 cm) by 14 inches (35.56).


  1. Wow they should love it! Well done, you are so talented!! :)

  2. This indeed is one of your very finest! Love it! Also, thanks for sharing your painting process. Marsha