Part Five – Observation in Nature – Assignment

Ok so I had a good idea of  what direction I wanted to go in. I want to do a close up study of the dog sleeping. Here are Four gesture style drawings made whilst the dog dozed in the garage in several positions. These where made relatively quickly standing at an easel.


A2 Charcoal


A2 graphite stick


A2 conte pastel


A2 Conte pastel


The next chance I got to draw Titch came when I was looking after him at the flat. I liked the idea of raising him off the ground as Cecil Aldin had done with his dogs often on sofa or chair. Titch soon got to work pulling some Stella sleeping poses. I scribbled a few in the sketch book before starting an A3 oil pastel version.


Sketchbook – A3



A3 – oil pastel

I’m really happy with this drawing. In the end it was made over two days ( just a few hours each day). Every now and then a drawing turns out some where near how I imagine it to look from the beginning. This is such an example.

I had deliberately stuffed the pillow under the dog to try to brig his rib cage up so he was not such a flat pancake. It worked beautiful. The model was a little bemused but excepted the new pose. Like all top models he is prepared to suffer a little for his art (and mine).

I sat myself in a chair close to the dog. Drawing from life with the model in front of me I was able to observe the rich pallet and shapes of his form. I started, quite hurriedly getting a line drawing in. Marking in some shadow areas with quick lose hatching to remind myself where they where. I always try to work as quickly as possible with the dogs as they could move at any moment so its important to get as much information down as possible. If they remain still after this I start to refine the image. Using a pencil held out in front of me I compare measurements. On this occasion he did stay still and the drawing worked right from the off. I was pleased.

Next it was time to add some colour. My oil pastel selection was limited colour wise. I was using colours from a set of 18 pastels landscape set. These pastels work beautifully. They are softer than most so with pressure globs can be left making for a more painterly look. I have also found they are easier to work colour over another than there harder counter part. Although limited I think I still found seven pastels I could use to depict the dog.

As I said I was quite happy with this drawing. I like how it shows my relationship to the dog (what I think about him). I think I’v captured him pretty well with out being to accurate. I like the close composition, I don’t think the cropping of the legs and tail looks silly. It’s nice to have the dog filling the available space I think. The fabric representation need work. In the next drawing I will spend more time on this.



oil pastel portrait on a4

As good a model as he is Titch would never hold this position for more than a few seconds. I had ordered 15 shiny new oil pastels in beautiful Titch appropriate colours including a couple of gold tone ones and a bronze. Keen to uses these new jewels as soon as possible I found a phone snap shoot and set to work.

I decided to use black paper as I wanted to see how the oil pastels sat of a dark tone of paper. They work well. Better than any other drawing media I can think of due to their thick opaque nature.

I used dashes to build up the dog. An approach I like and what to move forward with into the final drawing. For the eyes I used the bronze oil pastel, just for fun, A decision that worked surprisingly well  to give the eyes that reflective look animal eyes take on at night. A happy accident indeed.

I had ment to come back to it to finish it off. But time moved on and I think it’s ok like this anyway.

I love these oil pastels and although I am finally about to move on to painting courses I hope to find the time to use these delicious pastels lots in the future.


Sleeping Titch, study of tone

The next chance I had to draw the model I found him snuggled in his garage/bedroom. I was struck by the pink blanket he was lying on. helped by the low morning light shining into the garage the folds of the blanket looked incredible and the scene instantly reminded me of a Freud painting. I have discussed Frued’s paintings of dogs here. I had hoped to try to produce something reminiscent of how he represented his dogs. Seeing as my model is always asleep when I draw him it had made me thing of Frued’s models at rest.

I quickly gathered some drawing equipment, tone A3 sketch book to lean on, A handy piece of ingress paper that had been cut into a near square at some other time (cant remember why).It was originally A3 in dimension. From my ever ready ‘quick sketch’ pencil case (it pays to be prepared I have learnt) I pulled out an 8b pencil and a conte pencil in white. After getting the animal shapes in I took a few snapshots as I really wanted to keep working on this pose. He did remain nearly in the same pose for long enough to refine the shapes and get a little of the high lights in.  I’m really happy with this drawing and think it my best tonal drawing to date.

I decided this was what I wanted to use fro the main piece. So I arranged my self with an A2 piece of toned paper, very similar in shade to the tonal paper drawing. This I attached to a drawing board. I arranged the tonal study, the oil pastel a3 and the a4 oil pastel portrait around the set up to refur to. I also printed a few of the snapshots both of close up and further out showing all the beautiful folds of the fabric. Along with these I printed some of the anatomy sheets  as well as a few Frued’s for inspiration. If I got stuck I decided to ask myself the question, what would Freud do?


Under Drawing

First up I drew in the subject. I decided to zoom out on the dog as I loved the folds of fabric to the left had side and wanted to include them. I have been wanted to have a proper go at fabric for some time. Feeling very inspired by the exquisite painting of Toby Wiggins RP ‘The Golden Cloth’. If I had time I would have made a study of it alone, but I don’t.

I squared up the tonal drawing image in photoshop to get the dog as I had drawing him in the tonal study. Bt once it was in place I did make some minor adjustments mainly to the fore limbs. The anatomical plated I had printed can in really hand here.

The under drawing took some considerable time as I decided to draw in all the folds and mark the shadow ares with lose hatching. A decision that paid off when it came to adding the colour. Worth taking the time to do this in order to get believable fabric.

Once all the working out was done I progressed to adding the colours, values and tones. At this stage I already felt the dog was too small on the picture plane. It was a bit of a worry but as it had taken me so long I decided to progress rather than redraw.


The final piece. Oil pastel on A2 (ish)

The dog I filled in with dashes mainly in a kind of pointillist way. I was very conscious of trying to show volume and anatomy. The subject was already dealt with by the snuggled up pooch. I purposely used a full range of tones including the gold to pick areas of the coat up. Titch joined me in the office to sleep some more so I was able to refur directly to him. this was very helpful getting the fur texture right and zooming in on those small details.

I found the fabric tricker than the dog I started right to left and I think you can see I improved as I went. Here I was very conscious of showing the light fall coming in the front of the dog. The left hand side of the drawing and the shadow side the right. Before I got stuck into the detail I loosely blocked in all the shadow and light ares with the pastels as a guide to work on top of. I think this drawing shows the most control over light and dark that I have been able to achieve. It sounds so simple but you must be always aware of the big shapes and not start adding highlights wily nily to the small as you will lose this effect.


Crop – close up of dog

The last thing I did after many hours is to fill the edges, around the blanket in with a brown colour. This looked awful!! I very easily killed the whole drawing in one fowl swoop. I was originally going to leave the paper round the edges but it look unfinished. So in depression I grabbed a greyish tone and brushed over the heavy, oppressive brown. This has swung it back a bit. Still not so keen on the edges. Because of this I may crop the image before assessment. I am leaving it for a few days for now and will return to it with fresh eyes.

Over all I am happy with the out come. I think it is a good representation of how I have progressed through the course. Before taking it I never would have taken in to consideration things such as volume, colour language, light and shade, and so much more. These awareness I have learnt coupled with lots of drawing practise have help me to develop in to a more thoughtful and skilful artist.

This is a subject matter I would like to study further. I will defiantly continue to make sketches of the dogs when they are in front of myself and sketchbook. Hopefully it won’t be to long before I am trying to depict them in paint.



Titch showing his appreciation for the drawing so far with a gently wagging tail. Minimal effort always works best for him. A big thank you to a fab model!




About Emma Perring

Artist, oil painter


  1. Wonderful work Emma and Titch! Beautiful doggie portrait, and the fabric is masterful.

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