This year I have become interested in dog portraits, both in watercolour and coloured pencil. I have always loved dogs and there has not been many years in my life when I have not been owned by at least one. I grew up with a very forgiving boxer but latterly there has mostly been spaniels, in particular English Cockers and Field. There was a very entertaining and loving period where two Basset Hounds joined us and prior to that a border collie helped us with our small flock of sheep.
I wish now I had taken better photographs of all these colourful characters, but unfortunately whilst there are actions snapshots, nothing quite meets the standards you need to paint from. Good, clear close-up photographs with as much detail as possible is the best. Then I can create the high detail portraits that I enjoy doing. This is especially true when I am doing a commission as I do not know the personality of the dog.
I have in the past posted previous dog portraits (see Dogs as Artist’s Models back in March) but here are the latest two. The Cavalier is in watercolour and for the Border Collie I used coloured pencils. I am still finding it easier to use watercolour, but that is probably because I have been doing it for so long and it comes more naturally (taking the easier route?). However, I think I prefer the finished article when I used coloured pencils. I still have a lot to learn with this medium though.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment. – Robert Falcon Scott
It is very satisfying to design and make your own pad or jotter. You get to choose the colour, the size and materials to use. You can have as few or as many pages as you like and create something personal to you. I have made different ones for specific uses. Also they make lovely gifts for friends and family.
First I print the cover design on whatever card I have chosen. This can be textured or smooth, coloured or white, but bear in mind it will need to hold a good crease.
I then cut whatever paper I am using for the inside to size.
Fold all pages in half and crease.
Punch holes where you want the stitching to be along the crease-line and sew together using strong thread.
All that remains is to trim the edges of your notebook and your are ready to go! The tricky part is actually starting to write in the notebook. You want it to be special as it is the first page, but this can be a bit daunting. I read somewhere to leave the first page blank and begin on the second, so I can’t be the only one to feel this.
There are good reasons for using both paper and tablets for note taking, but for me the pleasure of a handmade paper one wins. What do you think!
Soon it will be time for Crufts again! Just in case you don’t know it is the ‘World’s Largest Dog Show’ and it is to be held from 9th – 12th March at the NEC in Birmingham. We used to breed Cocker and Field Spaniels, showing them regularly and Crufts was an important part of the year. We never did reach the heights, but our black field spaniel ‘Glenaubrey Black Shadow’ did achieve Best Puppy in Breed in 1985.
There never been a time since then that we have been without dogs, although not always spaniels. Notably the Basset Hounds with so much character. They live on in memories only so I just had to paint one. This is Jeeves :-
Boxer to remind me of the breed I grew up with
Labrador a commission painting
This is a painting I have just finished of Scoobie, a blue roan cocker spaniel, with a lovely personality and impeccable temperament. Sometimes I think it is easier to paint your own dogs as you know their character and can paint that in. Certainly you are filled with memories as you work.
I really enjoy painting dogs, but sometimes they are difficult to photograph. If it is your own dog they want to come and see what you are doing and have some fuss rather than sit still, but someone else’s dog can be even more problematic. Some will only sit when their owner tells them and then keep looking at them for reassurance all the time. It can all get very exciting and mayhem can ensue with great hilarity. It’s certainly not dull though!