This is Jackson. He is super cute and my most recent pet portrait commission. By some odd karmic coincidence this request arrived a few days after we had to put our own dog down. Dusty has made an appearance a couple of times in this blog so you might be familiar with him. We got Dusty whilst living in Abu Dhabi. He and his eight siblings had been found abandoned in a flooded building site as tiny, very cute, pups. After three years in the UAE he made the long trip (💰💰💰) back to Australia and enjoyed another three years with us here. Dusty was the best-worst dog you could ever have. Those who knew him will know what that means! 😢
Anyway I had loads of fun doing this commission of Jackson. I haven’t drawn anything but people for such a long time I’d forgotten animals are a whole different kettle of fish (so to speak). In some ways they are a little easier as you don’t need to worry about creating a smooth surface like you do with human skin but the flip side is you have to be super careful about inadvertent ‘blending’ (aka smudges). All that work to create tiny little individual lines of hair only to lose them by smudge them all together …ahhhgg!
The number one thing I re-learned doing this piece was the importance of figuring out the direction of travel of the fur BEFORE you start each area you are working on. You might start thinking the hair goes one direction only to discover it is actually a different direction and it is not always as instinctive as you think!. It can end up looking a bit unnatural if the hair is going the wrong way or you change it part way through and create an odd looking transition.
fact? thing: where the hair changes direction is called a hair whorl. It’s claimed there is a correlation between the location, number, or type of whorls and behaviour or temperament in horses and other species. Apparently the Bedouins believe different whorls mean different things. A whorl between the horse’s ears is a sign of swiftness and a whorl on the chest means prosperity! But beware the horse with a whorl above its eyes, it’s master is going to die of a head injury… (that is a fairly specific way to die so it must be true!)
But I digress…. Sometimes it can be quite hard to tell the direction of the hair from a photograph. Just a quick tip; I find it helpful to actually draw directional arrows on my reference drawing before I actually start.
I don’t know much about Jackson but I like to think that maybe he and Dusty are having a great time playing together wherever it is that dogs go after they leave this world.
RIP little man xx
If you are interested in a pet portrait of your bestie please check out my Etsy store. AUD $60 (an absolute bargin!) for an A3 portrait plus postage.