Teddy Bear Boy
Teddy Bear is a pit bull who lives in Oregon.
I met his "Mom", Sarah in an internet chat group several
years ago, and then in 2000, she and Teddy drove across the
country to join others from the group at our annual DogFest
in Pittsburgh. It was a great surprise, and I felt privileged
to have met them. Contrary to popular belief, most pit bulls
are sweet-tempered, delightful dogs. Teddy is an old softy,
and one of the most wonderful dogs it has ever been my honour
to meet. I fell in love with him on the spot.
This is stage one of the portrait. I sketched in the main pose
from the photographs Sarah sent me, and began drawing from the
top left to the lower right in order to avoid smudging.
Sarah is involved in Pit
Bull rescue, and is a very vocal advocate for these wonderful
dogs. Teddy Bear is a licenced therapy dog, and an admirable
specimen of his breed. If politicians have their way, this breed
and others will disappear. Dogs like Teddy Bear will no longer
have the right to exist.
I actually had to re-do the beginning
stages of this piece. While preparing a canvas for another painting,
I splattered gesso on the partly finished drawing on my draughting
I'd been struggling with the portrait
anyway, since the jpgs I'd been sent for reference were rather
small, and I didn't have much detail to work with. It soon became
evident that there wasn't enough detail to complete the piece,
particularly around the eyes, so I asked Teddy's Mom if the
original prints were available or if she could send me some
higher-resolution images. Since I'd already damaged the first
one, I stopped work on it. She sent me the prints, and they
were much better references.
Almost finished the first
layer of pastel.
Once the first
coat's done, I asked Teddy's Mom if there was anything that
needed changing, since once it's sprayed with fixative, I can't
make changes. At this stage, it looks okay from a distance,
but it's still rather rough in execution.
Once I get the okay to go ahead, I spray it with the first coat
of fixative (I use Krylon workable fixative), and leave it to
dry for a couple of hours. Then I cover all but the area I'm
working on (upper left corner) with a piece of smooth bond paper
to prevent smudging, and begin to add detail and smooth out
Because the fix darkens
down the lights and midtones, I have to go back in and rework
those areas. At this stage, I add in most of the fine
detail. You can see where I've done the second coat on the ear
and the eye. On the right side, the light tones have darkened
down, and the finish is still very rough.
Once the second layer has been
done, I give it another and final spray with the fixative.
Again, the lights darken down, but the final coat of pastel
is almost all whites and light colours. The last thing
to be done is the whiskers and the highlights. The speckles
and dark spots have now disappeared, and the work is ready to
The finished product.
It has been scanned and colour-corrected in order to make prints.
The original is carefully packaged to be shipped to Oregon.
Now that the colour-correction is done, I will be able to use
this image in a series of dog portrait art cards, or any other
printed items, such as mouse pads, coffee mugs, t-shirts or