Canine Drawings Using Tone by Cecil Windsor Aldin

Whilst searching for some dog art I came across the British artist Cecil Windsor Aldin(1870-1935) who specialised in illustrations and paintings of country scenes and animals. It’s clear from he vast array of  doggy tonal studies available to view around the internet that Aldin loved dogs. The drawings are either made on white paper with a what looks to be pencil or on lightly toned paper using a dark and light tools that I assume to be charcoal and chalk or similar to create the highlights and shadows of the piece letting the mid tone paper act as just that, the mid tone.

This charming drawings show Aldin to have a good knowledge of the structure of his subject and also a mastery with tone that I admire. He allows for just enough information such as just a few lines that unmistakably denote a sofa (see below image) with out distracting from the focal point of the sleeping mutts.


Cecil Windsor Aldin – Mickey and Cracker, Sleeping Partners – pencil w/crayon bodycolor – 23 x 33 cm

On closer inspection even this seems to be on very pale tint paper as it is clear there is some high light on the white dogs. I am sure the white dog must have moved position during the sitting as he is drawing in twice.

I’m particularly drawn to the sleeping dogs as this is the subject I am working on. Interesting to see how he uses the sofa or an arm chair (maybe by chance) to elevate his subjects creating more spacial illusion in depth of field. I have found myself drawing a dog sleeping on the floor can have for a very horizontal subject that could run the risk of appearing very flat on the drawing plan.


Cecil Windsor Aldin – ‘Daydreaming’ Sealyham Terrier – etchings w/ drypoint – 21.5 x 29 cm


Picture 52

Cecil Windsor Aldin –

The artist crated many examples of study sheets such as this. Here terriers are studied using the same tonal techniques as above. This time on a more usual mid tone of paper.

The above study sheet of Terriers shows the artist using some scribbly, wiggly lines to depict fur texture. He experiments with dogs in various poses using line and tone to varying degrees. I like than in all his drawings you can see that he enjoyed the subject and drawing it. They always have a light liveliness to them.

Picture 49

Cecil Windsor Aldin – This shows a more finished drawing using highlight and shadow and perhaps a flesh tone accent in places. The dog has the illusion of form. So much so it’s almost 3D.

The artist takes the studies a step further in the above drawing and others like it. Again he uses toned paper as a base to utilise as mid tone in the dog. This dog has been afforded lots of highlight to tell us that he is a white dog with light pouring on to his face, chest and forelimbs as well as catching his tail. I think I detect the use of some flesh tone to depict the pinky skin of the dog where it shows. This sits harmoniously on the buff tonal paper. In fact the artist is always cleaver with his paper choices and the media and tones he then chose to use on top. you can tell they are thoughtfully produced. Something I should try in my own drawings which are often a bit slap dash with what ever paper and medium I have to hand.

This drawing in particular shows a good knowledge of dog anatomy. Again the sinew and bone are cleverly picked out in highlight and the skin receding around the land marks is put in to mid or shadow tone. The dogs is very life like with quizzical expression. All of this shows how well the artist know his subject.

This has given me some excellent food for thought moving on to the tonal exercise. Thank you Cecil Windsor Aldin. 




About Emma Perring

Artist, oil painter

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  1. Pingback: Lucian Frued’s Dogs | huntemmalogblog

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