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There are times when your friends have more faith in your skills than you do. Always try the challenges they offer you. This is a challenge Tracey offered me. Sammy is her sister’s little dog. I painted her about three years ago and posted her here. Her nick name is “Left Turn” because of the ear she carries out to the side. What better time to post her with her favorite toy, “Hippo”, than at Christmas. From what I hear, she carries it with her everywhere.

Thank-you for the comments on the blue dachshund pup I painted recently. I really worked on the black for this so she didn’t turn out too blue. I used mixtures of red, yellow and blue to create the grays and blacks I used here. In some areas, I dropped neutral tint (a black) to darken it a little more. Be careful when you do this. I’ve found that black looks very chalky and flat without the use of other colors. All in all, this was a significant challenge for me as I have never searched for black in my colors.


  1. Wow! She turned out fabulous, her eyes are perfectly her true expression, what a beautiful tribute to a loveable little dog, I love this girl and you have certainly done her justice. And you are right, this is her favorite toy to grab when the mailman comes, she stands on the back of the couch with it at the bay window and shakes it ravenously while growling at him every single day. I hate to see what happened if that mailman ever came in the house! He’s toast at the paws of this little cutie.

    • Phew! I’m glad you approve. Thank-you for the challenge. Couldn’t think of a better way to share the finished result than to surprise you over the blog. I grew on this one!

  2. Too cute! Both the dog and her name. You’re right about painting black, it’s tricky, but there’s nothing either bland or flat about her glossy coat…cold, wet nose anyone? Love her sturdy little legs.

    • Thank-you, June. I won’t fear black as much the next time. Her legs; I know. I chuckled when I did the little bumps and those TOES!

  3. This is adorable, painting and story. I have to believe that some of the best art carries their stories with them. Merry Christmas!

  4. Just lovely. Great composition, nice colors. What detail! He is so expressive.

    • Thank-you, Jay. My striving for black was partly instigated by your posts on Rothko and my subsequent research about him. Thank-you for that.

  5. This is beautiful, Leslie! I love your blacks!!! Amazing.

    I had to laugh at Tracey’s story. My Mom has a Yorky who grabs his ball and shakes it violently from the back of the couch at her mailman, too. The dog (who I affectionately call “Little Brother”) knows when the mailman is about a block away. He waits anxiously with his ball in his mouth until the mailman appears.

    • Thanks Beth!. You know the little dogs are sometimes the ones with the biggest bark! LOL Little Brother, huh? Hope my kids don’t read this comment or they will be telling everyone they have two maltese brothers and a Jack Russell sister. 🙂

  6. I like the alertness of his eyes. Mmm. Nothing gets past those peepers. Catching that character is a gift, Leslie. merci

  7. He looks so cute! There is a vibrancy in the area where you used black. I am not so experienced in painting with black in large areas. I find myself using layers upon layers of the black I have created to get the exact value I want. I guess that is the only way to achieve it. Do you have any insights?

    • Thanks Raji. I’m in the same boat as you. If you look very closely at this or enlarge it, you will see purpley black areas. Around the chest, I went in with red and a lot of it still shows.I added the other colors blue and yellow as I worked while the initial color was still wet. Then I quickly would mix the three primary colors together and wash it over that area. In areas where I needed it darker, I fed in neutral tint and let it flow into the other colors.

  8. Great painting, great colors, great detail. The dog looks very serious and yet the Hippo in his mouth just makes me laugh!

    Wonderful composition. I love the lines on the floor that gives this painting quite a bit of dynamic tension.

    • Thank-you Carol. She is very serious about this little hippo of hers from what I hear. I may have made a mistake.The Hippo is laying on the floor kind of resting on her front right foot. LOL She’s hovering over the top of it. The lines on the floor were in the reference photo but I changed them to cross this way as the horizontal one would have cut the page in half, otherwise.

      • You didn’t make a mistake, my eyes did.

        I went back and looked and SURE ENOUGH, that hippo is on the floor!

        It’s still a great painting!

    • All things nice..
    • Posted December 19, 2009 at 8:31 am
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    Well done, looks really good 🙂 That would be a lovely christmas present too, a painting of your pet.

    All things nice…

  9. Absolutely beautiful Dachshund!

    I returned today to look at your other paintings and learned that you love graphite and watercolor, as I do. It is really pleasant to meet someone with similar media preferences. Of course, you are light years ahead of me in terms of skills and ability. I am subscribing to your blog, so that I don’t miss anything important.

    Have a wonderful holiday season!

    • Thank-you, Alex. Yes, my favorite mediums are graphite and watercolor. I also like watercolors where I can see the entire process of a watercolor with evidence of the graphite drawing showing. This is something you can see in a Homer and a Sargeant painting. I also enjoy working with ink. I don’t think I am light years ahead. I drew in the 80’s for about 4 years and didn’t pick it back up until 2003. I started watercolor in 2004. I have learned that this is one skill that truly improves with practice. I see such a difference from year to year in mine and in my students. I will continue to visit your site also.

  10. i’ve never eaten hippo.
    The perspective is great in this

    • Thank-you Kokot. I can’t imagine this one would taste too good. lol

      • Ah, you never know what a little imagination can accomplish

    • it’s delicious! especially the kind with the stuffing. and doesn’t this dog look serious. he must be a thinker – or he’s contemplating the deliciousness of hippo.

  11. I think your blacks really work in this too – really lovely and glossy looking.

    • Thank-you Sarah. I’m looking forward to your post on illustration and hope you are finally feeling better.

  12. “I’ve never searched for black in my colors.” What an artistic statement, Leslie! You make me want to explore the “black” or darker aspects of the photographic light — or absence thereof.

    • It looks like you were exploring that with your recent night photo of the Big Sur sculpture. I know I have a lot of exploring to do with black and grays.

  13. The dog is very adorable especially the eyes very life like. I like the way you use colors on animal, you really make them come alive. I totally agree with the black, i try to use less but sometimes to darken an area especially in watercolors could be difficult even after few washes.

    • Thank-you Francis. Yes. I need more practice with black. Sometimes I’ll use a combination of van dyke brown and prussian blue or phthalo violet to achieve a black in small areas, but it would have been too flat a mixture for this dog.

  14. Hey Leslie – you have captured the character of this little dog so well. And the colour. The hippo part of the story is so sweet. The little dog goes in and out in all the right places – your warm and cool push and pull works so well.

    • Thank-you Stephen. Had to add the reds in there or she would have looked cold and flat. Thank-you for picking up on that.

  15. Excellent! Great composition, drawing, and expression on the dog’s face. Have you ever thought about submitting to Illustration Friday?

    • Thank-you Nancy Bea. I have visited the site of Illustration Friday but never risen to the challenge as yet. Maybe this year some time?

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