Hector is our rescue Chihuahua-mixed-with-who-knows-what dog. He has a lot of the usual Chihuahua traits: he shivers when it’s a little chilly, barks at things way bigger than him, and burrows under blankets or pillows as much as possible. Hector also constantly wants to check things out and sniffs around everything. So, he earned the name Hector the Inspector. I decided to paint a portrait of Hector as an “Inspector”, as a gift for my wife.
I grabbed a sheet of cold press illustration board, cut it to fit an 8 in. x 10 in. frame, and prepped it with a thin layer of white gesso. While the board dried, I did some searches for classic portraits, Sherlock Holmes, and animal paintings. I used these images, along with photos of Hector to inspire the piece. As I mention in most posts, I use a non-repro blue pencil for my initial sketching because this phase for me is very loose and messy. Then I started to refine it with a standard #2 pencil.
The next phase was to start the painting. I use acrylic paint. The paint is mix of brands that I’ve acquired over the years (usually whatever was on sale when I ran out of a color). Still refining the shape and features of Hector, I used burnt sienna to begin. In this part of the process, I tried to start defining shadows and textures.
The background was next. I knew I wanted his hat and jacket to be yellow or green, so for contrast I chose dark reds to go behind him. I also wanted to keep this rough and nondescript to help the figure standout when the piece was finished.
Now the fun begins! Color started to be added and textures started to be defined further. I worked in some cool tones for shadows and some yellows for the lighted side.
The fur and the eyes were simultaneously the toughest part and the most rewarding part. Getting those things right were what would make the piece a success. I made sure to make the eyes the point of most detail and the point of most contrast. It breathes the life into the painting.
The last steps were finishing the jacket and blending some of those edges into the background.
I added a close-up to show a bit more detail here.
And an actual photo of Hector.
The finished piece is now framed in the most gold and fancy frame I could find (without spending a fortune) and hangs in our family room.
If you’ve got questions about the painting or my process please leave a comment or send me a message. Thanks for reading!