Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Labrador Retriever Portrait in Colored Pencil - Composing the Portrait

Isn't she a sweetie? She has "crossed the rainbow bridge" but she lives on in her portrait...
This commission was unusual for me, it came from someone I know, my son's boss' wife and former fellow hockey mom. (We always knew we were special...just didn't know we were VP material!)
Trish wanted a portrait of her sister's dog who had just died. She had a selection of photos, and one WAS under the bed with the eyelet dustruffle, but hardly any of her face showed and the floor was a nondescript wall to wall carpeting.
So I took other photos of her lovely face and pulled her farther out from under the bed and crossed her paw over her nose. She musta been naughty that day!
I love drawing hardwood floors. Here's how to do it. Take a LONG straightedge and hold it tight at the top of the drawing, off of the paper. Mark the first line, the most vertical one. Hold it tight on the top, as though the very top of it were nailed, and just swing it over a little, mark the line, swing again across the page. Remember that the farther away it gets from your eye, the slightly narrower the boards will be. And less detailed.
Then, I just took dark brown primacolor colored pencil and looked at my hardwood floor and drew what I saw. Hardwood floors vary not only in design but slightly in color, so I used a mix of brown and gold shades on top of the designs. Since colored pencil is transparent, each layer affects the one above it. I used this to my advantage by using shades in different orders. Not so much of a variation, the floor color stayed harmonious.
I added a bit of reflection of the dog.
The dustruffle was fun, but again I had to be careful not to make it a portrait of a dustruffle with a dog! So I simplified the design AND the gathers a bit. The color looks white, but it's not. I used a tan colored paper, and the dustruffle is really a bit of light blues, lavendars and pinks, all which stand out from the overall tan and brown color scheme of the dog/bed/floor. But not as stark as white would be. I save my whitest white, the only white on here, for the sparkle in her eyes!
If you have any questions about my technique or how I compose my portraits...anything about me or my art, give me a holler or comment here. I'm glad to answer any questions. My email address is above, and if you haven't stopped by my website, it's http://robinzebley.com/ .
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