Digby and Angus

Black animals are notoriously difficult to photograph, so I was really glad to get such great reference photographs of these two black Labradors.

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They have very similar features and are actually father (Angus on the right) and son (Digby on the left).

This was quite a big portrait, 16″ x 12″/40 x 30 cm, and no background was required.

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The initial sketch.

Usually I do a base layer of the main colours in the subject, but black pastel is much too messy for that, so I do smaller sections at a time.  I began with Digby as I am right handed, so working from left to right would reduce the chance of smearing the pastel as I go along.

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Digby in progress
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Starting to add detail to Angus

I left the collar area blank until the final stage simply because I didn’t want the bright colours to be dulled by any stray black pastel. The client requested their names on their tags rather than personal information that was shown in the reference photo.

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Digby and Angus, pastel by Gillian Ussher

Once it was complete there was a lot of cleaning to do to get rid of all those smudge marks!

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Published by gillianussherart

I am a pet and wildlife artist, originally from Ireland but now based in Frome, England with my husband and children, two rescue dogs Rua the Hungarian Vizsla and Ogie the blind terrier, and Jet the cat. I take commissions for pet portraits and draw original animal art, most of which is sold as fine art prints and art cards. I also teach others how to draw through online classes and short courses available through my website. I have been working as a full time artist for many years, and have fulfilled hundreds of pet portrait commissions. My client base is international, and I ship worldwide for free. My work has been featured in publications such as Dogs Today Magazine, Dogs Monthly, The Guardian, Talented Ladies Club and Country Living Magazine. I support animal charities whenever I can, by regularly donating art to various rescue group fundraisers, donating 20% of income from prints to various breed specific rescues and providing wildlife rescues and rehabilitations centres with original art to fundraise and create merchandise. If you are interested in purchasing or commissioning art, or if you just want to connect, you can contact gillian@perpetualportraits.co.uk

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