My first portrait commission is of Rocky, a Cairn Terrier and the beloved pet dog of Pat, one of my bookish friends on LibraryThing. I’d spent maybe 4 hours on prep work and initial drawing stages of Rocky on a Strathmore drawing board which had been highly recommended by professionals, but which I hadn’t used before, when I was considering maybe starting over (see gallery image #1). This board has a slightly heavier texture than what I’ve gotten used to with the very smooth high-quality sketch-pad paper I’ve been using for the Metro Series, and I wasn’t sure I liked the way it was taking the pencil. The difficulty with this particular project is it’s all about ever so slight variation in tone and tiny flecks of white here and there, with hardly any real contrast or major variations in between. I’d gotten used to really controlling my strokes and having them creating a kind of subtle pattern with the Metro series, but on this board these strokes become diffuse even when I’m using mechanical pencils. But perhaps this isn’t a bad thing after all to convey the furriness of our critter.
Portrait Commission: Rocky, 1st Stages
If you look closely at the pics, you can see, ever so faintly, a grid I put down, with a pale outline of Rocky (if you don’t, please don’t worry, this is not supposed to show much, and definitely is meant to disappear in the final piece). The full-sized piece, which is 7.75 x 10″ for the drawing area plus a 1.5 inch border, is shown above. Below in the gallery, I’ve shown close-up shots of the details as they are emerging. As the drawing slowly progresses and Rocky emerges, I’m growing more confident I’ve made the right choices after all and I just have to keep at it.