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  • sarah-leigh

Melody, Chica and Urchin. Giant Jolly Splashes Pet Portrait!

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

Well giant maybe a slight exaggeration,but it is a pretty huge size for me! When you think most of my pastel pet portraits are between 10x8 inches and 16x12 inches , with the occasional 20x16 inches, this canvas is a whopper at 40x30 inches. To help you with scale 40 inches is a meter! So yeah, that is big compare to what I am used to!

Anyway, as with all the large canvas works I like to sketch them out and do a smaller version, just to make sure I am happy with how the colours work together, the placement and so on. I can paint over the canvas if I make a mistake, but it is a whole let hassle if I get it right first time! With these three I had a lovely reference photo, but in it they were a little more spaced out than I would like, and they wouldn't fit on the canvas, so I moved them closer together and I think it made the overall composition. I use photoshop for things like that, I don't have a great knowledge, but I can do enough in there to get what I need done!

When I was happy with the composition it was time for the mini sketch. My client had very specific ideas of the colours she wanted. She wanted them to match her bespoke wedding dress. It is a beautiful dress I have to say. Purples, blues, magenta an turquoise. Some of my favourite colours I have to say!

So this is how the sketch turned out, I am pleased with it, and from here I felt much more confident about Jolly Splashing a big canvas!

I of course emailed this to my client to check she was happy with the colours and composition of the pet portrait before I started with the canvas. She was, so on the next stage.

Getting the outline on a canvas on that size is a tricky job, but I managed to get it all done last night. My plan was to paint them over the weekend, but I couldn't wait, the big, blank, white canvas was itching to be painted! What better than a Jolly Splashes pet portrait!

Here is the sketch of the trio on the canvas, sorry it isn't the best photo, silly phone, bad lighting in the kitchen etc, etc, but I think you get the gist!

It is done very faint as well, as I don't want the pencil marks to show through the watercolour. Watercolours aren't opaque like acrylics or oils, so they can be hard to cover with watercolours.

I can't really describe the painting stage of the painting, so what better than a video! I will be adding to this as the pet portrait isn't finished yet, but my eyes couldn't focus anymore and I needed the paint to dry!


Once I had left the painting to dry for 12 hours I added some more watercolour to bits that I felt needed it and their eyes of course, trying not to go detailed with it as that is left for the pen to pick out, which is the next stage of this giant pet portrait. Again leaving the watercolour to dry for a few hours I returned to add the pen. I find the black of the pen and the white areas I leave on the dogs, or whoevers painting I am doing really makes the colours pop! It keeps them so much brighter and cleaner. I have always known this with watercolours,although I can't remember where I learnt it. Probably my college days!

While I add the pen to the painting I must remember to stand back regularly to check I haven't added too much or too little. It is really important that you take a good step back working this large as looking close up you just can't tell.

Once I had decided I had finished I emailed my client and she was over the moon with it! Time now for signing and varnishing. I love doing Jolly Splashes pet portraits. And below is the full length video and a final photo of the finished painting!

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