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The difficulty I faced with this portrait was the white parts of his coat. In several other paintings, of this nature, I have done a light underpainting over the entire sheet of paper to give the white color and tone it down. This time I chose to leave the white of the paper and contrast it starkly with the rest of  this dog’s coat because that is how he appeared to look. Sort of “look at me” attitude. I used light washes of the colors from the background to shade and define areas of the white part of his coat.

“Y” has just included a photograph of a puppy of this wonderful breed.


  1. I am really drawn to the eyes of the spaniel. Love this Leslie!IMHO,I feel like scrubbing the edge of the shading and bleed it into the white coat. Just a thought.The shading on the fur looks so beautiful.

    • Thank-you, Raji. I tried to lead the viewers eye to the eyes of this dog by placing them in a “sweet spot” and gradually adding more detail and color as I painted closer to them. I also attempted to have the shapes I chose in the coat to swirl and point to the eyes. I like your suggestion of scrubbing some of the hard edges! Good eye!

  2. My goodness, you are talented ! This is beautiful ! And so luminous !

    • Thank-you Isabelle. I think this might be more luminous because I left larger areas white. Don’t know but I think it helped the white of the paper in other areas to show through more strongly.

  3. It’s incredible how you did this, Leslie! His coat is amazing! His eyes really grab at my heartstrings, too! Very nice!

    • Thanks Beth. You know, I tried to detail the eyes as much as possible, but I didn’t do all the things the super realists do because I don’t know how, but elsewhere in the painting I tried to concentrate on shapes like you do and have them flow to or kind of point to the eyes. So see? You all are teaching me! This blogging art is incredible.

  4. His fur looks thick, especially his ruff – you’ve captured his essence with those pleading eyes. If I had a treat in my pocket for him, I’m sure his tongue would come out.

    • Thanks, June, for saying something about his thick coat. You are right because some dogs have thin coats and some have bristly coats. As for the treat and tongue, I’ll bet you’re right from what his owner shared about him with me!

  5. This doggie shines. I love that you left the white of the paper. It makes his coat luminous. I find that when one has to go back with gouache to fix the “whites” it doesn’t come out as nicely. I want to scratch him!

    • Thank-you Carol. I just decided to give it a go on leaving a large white space. I usually let small areas of white stay white. Thanks for thinking it worked with this one.

  6. Before I read your words, I thought he was very commanding – you certainly captured his attitude!

    • Thanks, Sarah. That makes me feel good about what I was trying to represent.

    • severnyproductions
    • Posted September 2, 2009 at 5:35 am
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    • Reply

    enlarged there is less detail than i thought but it’s nicely looks so complicated from over here. nice

    • Thanks, Kokot. I know what you mean about less detail than it looks. Sometimes, maybe the color choices we use and how we design the shapes make something simple look good.

  7. this is very confident watercolour hey Leslie – I like all the shades in the white and the eye technique – what a haughty face

    • Thanks, Stephen. He does look a little superior and confident I think. Sort of like a King?

      • Are you saying he looks like someone in MY FAMILY????

  8. Of course! Like Mary Englebreit, everyone has “Queens and Kings of Everything” and “Princes and Princesses of Quite a Lot” don’t you think?

  9. He-hee! Carol – snort!

  10. oh that’s a beauty! wow..

    • heatherslalaland
    • Posted September 5, 2009 at 5:43 pm
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    Awww, he looks gorgeous. I love those huge puppy dog eyes. I love that you left the white of the paper to show through, rather than painting over it. Great work!

    • Thanks, Heather. I was just visiting your blog and now I see similarities with your swirling abstract and the background I chose to lay in on this piece. Your paint is opaque whereas mine is transparent. Just thought I’d mention it.

  11. what a coincidence – i just saw this 11-week-old puppy:, and i had to make the young owner practice saying, “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,” twice! (smile)

  12. Leslie, you are truly talented. You captured Danny’s essence, and the two other water colors that you sent me are even better, IMHO. Don’t ever give up doing this. Namaste.

    • Pat. I am honored that you took the time to comment on your loyal friend, Danny. I know the ones you chose are better. I think I didn’t capture as soft an expression in this one. BUT…..he does look regal and I think he must have been very loyal. I won’t give up, I promise.

  13. Hi Leslie,

    We have 2 Cavaliers – a dainty lady and a sweet gent – both from puppy mills. Thank you for your lovely painting and celebrating this beauty. Is he yours?


    • This and the other one I posted recently, called “Danny” are from photographs of a client’s family pet from years ago. Yo me he looked both regal and loveable. I really enjoyed painting him. I have a Jack Russell and two Maltese. Thank-you Linda! 🙂

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Danny « Leslie White on 18 Apr 2011 at 8:58 pm

    […] is another pose of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Danny. The other can be found here. I rested heavily on my drawing as I painted this because I liked the line of it. Just as a side […]

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