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My Commission of Jessie by Marlene Millard

My Commission of Jessie by Marlene Millard

Commission "Jessie" - for Sarah Murray by Marlene Millard

WIP # 1 - Time: 1 hr :10 mins

Reference photo supplied by client.

The size is determined by the client, in this case the image size is to be 40 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 45 x 55 cm. The pastel surface for this artwork is Clairefontaine Pastelmat and I choose the colour 'sand' to compliment the subject.

WIP # 2 - Time: 45 mins

I like to make a non-descript background for dog portraits like this because I want all the focus on the dog.

WIP # 3 - Time: 5 hrs : 35 mins

I work basically top to bottom and left to right as I am right-handed and I must always be careful not to smudge. Firstly I need to reclaim the outline from the background and then I block in some darker tones which helps to bring form to the drawing. Next I start on the ears and work downwards. I use many colours to create the "blue - dog" hair. Once I'm happy with the colours I've laid down and blended I use pastel pencils to drag the colours into and across each other to make it look like dog hair. Before I finish for the day I get an eye looking back at me, which is always a milestone!

WIP # 4 - Time: 4 hrs : 35 mins

This photo shows how the features develop, but all features are still a work in progress. Even though I work basically top to bottom, I revisit all aspects of the artwork until I am happy that they work together.

WIP # 5 - Time: 4 hrs : 25 mins

Making some progress today working on the eyes, nose, tongue, muzzle, mouth and thickening the hair around the neck. I change the eyes so they look more 'at the viewer'.

# 6 - Time: 1 hr : 30 mins

Only a short session today. It's so nice to add the whiskers, this is one of my favourite parts. I break a pastel to give a nice crisp edge, then roll it with a very light touch. My fiddle with Jessie's right eye needs adjusting next session. Before I finish I add the paws which gives a new perspective over all.

IP # 7 - Time: 3 hrs : 50 mins

This was a fun session! Still doing touches to the features but today was mostly about the paws, toe nails and hay/straw. Jesse is now to the 'fine tuning' stage. A photo is sent to the client for assessment.

IP # 8 - Time: 1 hr : 00 mins

I put the glint in the eyes, adjust a few hairs here and there and touch up the straw.

Generally tiny touches, tweeking and tidying up throughout.

WIP # 9 - Time: 50 mins

One final request from the client to soften Jessie's right eye. So I make the outer corner less 'pointy' and less dark; soften the intensity of tone on the lid and bottom eye line and take the tiniest spot out of the glint.

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 "Jessie" in bottom right corner with an indigo 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 'Jessie' I roll it fourteen times before I am happy.

After 23 hrs and 40 mins I introduce the finished Portrait of 'Jessie'.