How I paint a horse portrait, dog portrait or cat portrait in pastels from a photograph of your pet.
Dog and Horse Pastel Portrait Process
My method of painting is pretty much freehand, as I know horses and dogs characteristics so very well after years of painting different breeds, colours and horses that perform different disciplines. Knowing the anatomy means proportions and positioning of eyes and ears etc are correct.
I start by sketching the subject onto the paper (fig 1) then I move on to straight on to the eyes. As you will know you can really see their souls through their eyes, horses eyes are so gentle and expressive and as we all know when they see us arrive in the yard waiting for their feed - eyes fixated on us and vocalising (and sometimes impatiently pawing at the floor or door!) and as we all know when our dogs sit and look so soulfully at us their eyes fixated on us when they want your attention, to play, or their dinner – or your dinner!
Once I have done the eyes I start on the subject's head and shoulders (and body if a whole body painting). I am usually inspired by the background in the photograph of the horse or dog that you supply, if required I can leave the background plain using just the Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Paper colour. Then I block in the basic colours and tones,(figs 2 & 3) and in much the same way as an oil underpainting, and gradually keep working over the whole portrait graduating up to the light tones. The final stages are the highlights, fine whiskers and hairs. (fig 4)