Happy Lab Portrait

Graphite on Paper | 6” x 8” 

Happy Lab Portrait | Graphite on Paper

This Labrador’s smile and overall happy, expressive face quickly caught my attention. I have no idea who this dog is, but I know s/he’s never met a stranger. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the slow, methodical pace of working through this drawing. One of my focal areas this year is something I call “dogs in motion”, basically dog’s doing stuff (see Frisbee Dog), which remains my primary interest when it comes to dog related art. However, the challenge of doing a realistic dog portrait has always nagged at me, in large part because I could never figure it out. This composition is either a fluke, which is entirely possible, or something clicked in my art brain – my big, smushy, oft confused art brain. 

The technical keys to this drawing, at least for me, were as follows:

  • Proportions: Free-hand drawing, no tracing is mandatory for me… otherwise I won’t learn a damn thing. There’s something elusive about getting the snout of a dog just so. Eye spacing and size of the nose, which is a lot bigger than you think, were also key.
  • Eyes: Oh those precious stares! The expressive nature of a dog oftentimes exudes from their eyes, but I realized so much of that expression is from the hair around the eyes, too. 
  • Hair Strokes: The darker areas of the coat are a combination of different types of pencil hardness, but also more variations of stroke density, i.e. darker areas have more strokes, which is obvious now that I say it aloud. 

Hopefully the progression shots above are helpful to see the compositional approach. There’s a lot of bouncing around, but ultimately it’s about getting the eyes and nose nailed and then building out from those anchors. 

Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “Happy Lab Portrait

  1. Pingback: Wolfgang Portrait – Impasto

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