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Commission of Digby - Marlene Millard

Commission of Digby - Marlene Millard

Commission "Digby" - for Fraser Tier by Marlene Millard

Photo presented to Marlene by Client Fraser Tier

WIP # 1 - Time: 1:50 mins

Reference photo supplied by client.

The size was determined by the client, in this case the image size is to be 39 x 50 cm. I sketch the outline and main characteristics onto layout paper first and then transfer onto the archival pastel surface which is cut to 44 x 54 cm. The pastel surface for this artwork is Clairefontaine Pastelmat and I choose the colour to compliment the subject.

WIP # 2 - Time: 1hr : 20 mins

I start the background of old timber floorboards and also reclaim the dog outline.

WIP # 3 - Time: 3 hr : 25 mins

More work on the floorboards and I start on Digby. I basically work top to bottom and left to right, so I start with Digbys' right ear and work down from there. Black hair is not just painted with black! A black dog shows either or both, blue and deep burgundy sheen; so I use a variety of colours for his coat. Digbys' left eye works quickly and that's it for the day.

WIP # 4 - Time: 2 hr : 05 mins

This was only a short session. I paint Digbys' right eye and start work on his nose and mouth. Because the camera is shooting straight down; the perspective is a little tricky so I have to make sure it is working right.

WIP # 5 - Time: 7 hr : 20 mins

This was a big day! I work on the floorboards some more. They need to look like floorboards but not be distracting from the main subject. I include Digbys' shadow which 'grounds' him.

I soften the outline edges around the ears and head and work on the hair sheen which helps to give the head rounded form. The snout, nose and cheeks are next, keeping in mind the tricky perspective.

The tongue and mouth are next; followed by the hair under the neck and the hind leg. The hair is made by laying down the different colours beside each other, blending the edges together and then dragging the different colours across each other with pastel pencils.

The final addition for the day are the shoes.

I now call this at the 'fine tuning' stage and I will come back to it the next day with fresh eyes.

WIP # 6 - Time: 1 hr : 10 mins

Fine tuning today. Tiny little touch ups on the hair, nose, gums, hind leg and toe nails. The final feature to add are the whiskers.

I then measure the outline of the artwork and put registration marks in the corners for the picture framer; this is so the matting is positioned exactly where I want it to be. I sign my name in the bottom left corner and "Digby" in bottom right corner with a black Prismacolour pencil.

The last, but very important, job is to 'set' the pastel. I cover the artwork with a thick tissue paper and very carefully roll over it with a wooden rolling pin. This presses the pastel down into the surface and also removes loose pastel dust. I do this a multitude of times using fresh paper each time. For 'Digby' I roll it nine times before I am happy.

After 16 hrs and 10 mins I introduce the finished Portrait of 'Digby'