Thursday, April 21, 2011


This is a commission I had a few months ago, to start with I thought it was just another dog portrait but it turned out that the customer wanted other specific elements, foreground is a headshot of the Huntaway Bruce, fair enough but that had to be applied to a background of a location and a flock of sheep AND a shepherd (the owner of Bruce). This was something new as I'd never tried to combine elements like this before, in the end I had to omit the shepherd, it was just too much going on and I couldn't make it work. Here are the reference pics I had to work with:



Background (& shepherd on his quad bike)

Clearly this wasn't going to be just a portrait, it was a combination of portrait and landscape...and I don't much like doing landscapes, way too tricky. Anyway I messed around with a few compositions and in the end  the most obvious worked the best:

Composition sketch:

On the strength of this rather crude drawing I got the go ahead. I opted for charcoal and soft pastels (surprise surprise) on 30 X 40 cartridge paper.

Charcoal sketch, Bruce's head:

Completed sketch:

Some colour thrown in:


I found this to be quite a challenge and was quite pleased with the result. The client was delighted with it when she got it and then threw another idea at me, something much, much tougher altogether, watch this space.....


  1. Congrats on the commissions. I agree putting several sources together to create on piece is tricky.Composition and perspective is a challenge for me. I like how you solved it by having the three points of near, far and distant. It not only gives feature to the lovely dog but also gives the immense sense of space in the landscape.

  2. Thanks Elizabeth, this was a bit of a leap for me, rally didn't know if I was going to be able to achieve it.

    Just wait till you see the second picture this client commissioned, it's a huge (100 X 70cm) apocryphal scene of one of the rather grisly old industries in the Falklands, the rendering down of penguins for their fat. There are no existing photographs just vague historical accounts, the picture contains people, dogs, penguins, sea, a ship, fire & smoke. It's very difficult but is getting there, I'll post it soon.

  3. I'm looking forward to it. The subject does sounds a bit grisly.