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This is Biskit. My daughter recently asked me (6 months ago) if I would paint a portrait of her beloved Golden. I had tried about 5 years ago and was not able to come up with one that did him justice. I took pictures of him and flipped through them about two weeks ago and settled on the pose above. He is extremely hard to capture a photo of as he is an exuberant fellow and doesn’t quite understand posing. I have a lot of shots of him laying on the floor pouting as we would try to pose him and tell him to stay. He’d immediately lay down and pout because he  would prefer to have his head in your lap, nosing your hand and placing his paw on your knee.  I was lucky enough to get this picture of him later in the evening before he actually realised I was paying attention to him again.  This defines Biskit. Bright eyes, ears down and back and a huge grin on his face.

The following is the making of the above portrait.  Please realize I only post these progression pictures in the event that they can help you in trying something I have attempted as I create. 

I chose hotpress paper again as I am still experimenting with it. My first step was to get a good line drawing:

In order to get the proportions correct, I used my clear acrylic crosshairs I talked about here.

You can faintly see in the above step that I used liquid friskit in tiny areas around the eyes, nose, mouth and to define the whiskers. I then began to paint washes of color onto the image by following the values I saw in the reference as well the countours that defined the roundness of his form or flow of the hairs of his coat.  I learned hotpress paper does not respond to my normal wet-in-wet techniques in the same way as the coldpress paper does. My images look a little better if I use contour  and paint more in a drawing mode on it. Approached, in this manner, I get a fairly good painterly feel as I lay color next to color or add a second wash.  I defined Biskit’s largest forms (head, muzzle and neck) prior to concentrating on the background and detailed areas of the features.  My palette consisted of  American Journey colors copper penny,  june bug, raw sienna, harvest gold, naples yellow, burnt sienna, burnt umber and permanent rose. I also used Winsor Newton quinachridone gold.

The above is the bulk or the “meat”of my painting.  I first described the eyes. I had an instructor tell me once that it helps to get some color into the eyes before working too much of the background. She said it helps to give some life to the image so you can see the balance between background and the image.  Notice, in this stage, the friskit has not been removed and the eyes don’t have too much definition to them. They just have the lights and darks of it.  I then layed in the background wet-in-wet. I wanted it to look a little broken up and mottled so I chose a large mop brush that holds a lot of water to lay the colors in. I mixed two large dark washes of the two dark colors I had used in the portrait. I chose these colors because I wanted to push the head forward so the golds could “pop” and  move forward in the format. Those colors were june bug and copper penny. I worked fast so I could get the mingling of color you see in the lower right quadrant. While the wash was still wet, I picked up the board and tilted it back and forth a little to help with the direction of the flow. Once the background was dry, I removed the friskit and furthur detailed the eyes and mouth.

The above view of the eyes show them after the friskit was removed.  Note the light tone in the irises of both eyes. I had layered quinachridone gold, followed by burnt sienna and waited for that to dry. I then layered copper penny, june bug and burnt umber on the pupil and waited for that to dry. Next, I took a small damp brush and lifted out some of the burnt sienna on the iris and some of the burnt umber on the pupils to create the lighter areas in them that give the eyes their roundness.  Note the friskit had covered some of the lid on the eye on the left as it faces you and I needed to touch that up and shape the white area nearest the nose to have a little warm tone to it more like the inside corner of an eye. This is detail work that can be crucial to some portraits if you wish to draw the viewers’ eye to them. I caution you to not add these highlights unless you see them in the reference material.  I did not see them in the Rudolph painting I posted here because his eye in the reference was soft and dark. Eyes can go wrong quickly and highlights and tonal differences look freaky if misplaced.

Above is the image of the finished eyes.

I then concentrated on tongue, teeth and lips. The above is an image before I detailed them.

I removed the friskit. I shaded the tongue and gums with darker washes of permanent rose so they showed the bends and folds of the tongue around the teeth and the darker pigment in the gums. I shaded the teeth with very light washes of june bug and lifted out some of the burnt umber along the upper curve of the lower lip.

  finished painting


  1. This is lovely Leslie. I always admire your colours. I think of watercolour paintings as soft, ‘pastels’, but yours are different. Very good.

    • Hi Cecily! Thank-you for this comment. I think many people view watercolor just the way you do. I think I did before I began my journey with it. I am still learning the possibilities with this wonderful medium.

  2. very nice! 🙂

  3. Nice! You definitely captured character and personality.

  4. This is lovely. You can see that this big, sweet dog is frisky but gentle in his smiling face. He looks like a real lover boy. Beautiful, vibrant color but the dogs hair still looks soft and shiny. Thank you for the process description. Your descriptions are always so straight forward and clear that they really help. And the close-ups are really clear. Great post!

  5. aloha Leslie – you have this process down really well. i think you could work this way from almost any photo and turn out great results. it feels like you are approaching photo realism which can be quite interesting. even the distortion of the camera is in the painting. you have great control in this process. have you sketched Biskit live? i’ll bet that would be a challenge because of his energy. i’d also suspect that you’d catch some of that energy and life in that kind of sketching with pencil/charcoal and watercolor. if you’re up to it sketching live vs painting from a photo might be a very interesting juxtaposition of works (not that you need to do it, i’m sure you have plenty going on with your time). i just remember some of your plein-air works and think it would fun to see what you’d do. cool works. i appreciate seeing the details of your process as well. thank you. aloha – rick.

    • Hi Wrick! No, I have not even imagined trying something like that with him. I’d have to move in with my daughter for awhile. I did paint one of my little dogs from life and have drawn, numerous times, their little characters from life. I think I posted this painting prior to you following me:
      Now that I am doing some step-by-step photos to post, I wish I had done that with Tucker’s. It was incredible to watch it develop over a two day period. All of the figures on my figure page, above, and most of the self portraits on that page, above, were created from life. That is about the best I can do from life of “live” subjects but am always striving to improve. I like working from life and photos. Thank-you!

  6. You really can pull off some beautiful work, Leslie! This piece is gorgeous! He is a beautiful dog, and you have captured him beautifully.
    I understand how hard it can be to get your pet to pose for you; mine are difficult too. I have two cats, and both of them stare at me until I put the camera on them. lol.
    Thank you for going through the step by step instructions.
    Excellent work, Leslie!

    • Ha! My little dog, Tucker, does the same thing until I hold the camera up in front of my face. He is all tail wagging and bright eyed and then sees the camera! I think they think the camera is something to fear because it changes our facial appearance from what they are used to. As a result, I have many photos of Tucker looking the other way. Thank-you for your supportive comments, Debbie!

  7. Beautiful work as always!

  8. I love this dog! Perhaps Biskit can come and visit and stay with me for a spot of time, can he? He is just the kind of personality that would work for me perfectly – boundless tireless affection :)! And his character is obvious in your painting – a loving and lovable dickens. Can I haz him? 😆

    • He is not mine to share. I do know that most Goldens have this loving temperament. People who share their home with them are hooked forever on the breed. Thank-you for seeing his personality through my portrait of him, Alex! 🙂

  9. Well done dog portrait! The eyes came out really nice with all the moisture showing!

    • Thank-you, Frank. Until I lifted some of the top layer in tiny spots, they didn’t have that look, even with the highlights. I am so thankful for the things I learned at the Andrew’s workshop last summer.

  10. You are amazing! I admire all the thought you put into work. I do a quick sketch and then can’t wait to start painting. But you think of each and every step. How I wish I could come for some lessons.

    I love this doggie. My sister had a golden named Fred and now she has Gus. You have captured that golden spirit. Your portrait reminds me of both my sister’s dogs. All they want is to be petted!

    Wonderful, beautiful portrait.

    • It is not that I think of all of these things ahead of time, for sure. I face them as I get to them and see how each stage looks. I had no idea what colors I was going to use for the background until I worked the first stages of his eyes and the darks under his chin. I love the names Fred and Gus for a Golden! I wish we could paint together, also. Thank-you, Carol!

  11. What a sweetie! and the dog is nice too.
    I love the liquid look you get with the watercolor, I’m not sure how you do it, but I like it. This dog as so much joy and spirit in it’s eyes and facial expession, and you once again captured it beautifully!

    • Hi Ryan! Thank-you so much. The eyes worked out this time and I think it was the time I took to friskit the highlights and lift out some light spots. I usually don’t have a reference that includes these, so this was fun to try.

  12. It is perfect!!!! I absolutely love it. It brought tears to my eyes how perfectly it captured all of his personalities, and then reading everybody’s comments. He has been a faithful and loving dog throughout everything and you can see that in your painting. So thank you for painting my precious baby for me! 🙂

    • Yay! Thank-you so much, Corey! You just made my day! I was hoping I captured him for you! Smiles 🙂 🙂

  13. Doesn’t quite understand posing.. LMAO!! I recently heard on NPR about 48% pet ownership of us Americans.. I am not surprised why! So adorable Leslie, and yes, you did a 100% justice to his personality! Of course, we are not even talking about those 5 years you spent perfecting him.. Always the best outcome!

    • Hi Rachana! Thank-you for this! Yep. You are right. It took about 5 years to be able to render anything remotely like a likeness in these pet portraits. Sometimes, even now, I don’t capture them well. This is Biskit, though. If I wanted to be a little silly about it, though, the first thing anyone sees is that big nose coming at them. Ha!

  14. I love this. I like how he has so much personality and character in his face 🙂 Great job!

    • Thank-you Taylor! 🙂 I needed you the night I was trying to get photographs of him!

  15. I love that doggie smile. Thank you so much for sharing your process too. Not a lot of artists do that and as a teacher/artist it is one of those things that I really appreciate.

    • Hi Meg! Oh, and I know why you love that doggy smile. Your dog is absolutely gorgeous! I don’t mind sharing at all. I figure we are all in this together. I have not run across many artists who can do anything exactly alike. I know there are some who can get incredible copies but have never met someone who does that. I hope that by sharing others might find something they’d like to try in their own work. The fun, for me, is seeing someone take a technique and soar with it. I feel that we all create to our own unique vision, anyway. The interesting thing is that we may use the same techniques to create them. Ha! I love teaching and respect those who also share what they do and know so others can grow and enjoy. I know the artists you speak of. I love it that you paint and write from your soul!

      • Thanks so much for mentioning my blog Leslie. Big hug. I should say thanks for mentioning my number one guy too. (the dog that is!)

  16. Leslie, Leslie, Leslie,
    What in God’s world do you do up in Indiana with no cell phone and no more than basic cable t.v.? Do you actually talk face-to-face with people? Oh my God!
    I love your Golden. He is gorgeous and is very similar, almost identical, to my sister-in-law’s old dog. Love your paintings and always grateful for your generosity!
    Say hello to my little girlfriend for me.

    • Hi, “The Husband”! When I have to, I talk face-to-face with people. I can only watch one TV program at a time…… If there is nothing on TV, I listen to NPR and paint. I didn’t even know they had a local channel package until I asked them a few years back and, believe me!, they did not want to tell me! I saved enough from that cutback to afford my online service and have 35 dollars a month left over. I miss the History channel, Monday night football, and some of my Cub games.
      I will say hello to the Granddaughter who is flying a toy jet airplane around the house, daily. Thank-you for this comment on Biskit!

  17. Biskit came out so well,Leslie! His eyes are the most captivating. I am now really thinking about buying miskit. I have tried to stay away from it as much I can. Not anymore. Now I am convinced there are some good advantages on using it at the right areas. I can see now that HP paper goes well with your painting style.Look forward to see more of your works.

    • There are times it works out really well. I don’t use it for large areas. Have used friskit paper for that. Oftentimes there is a hard edge around the form that is masked, but you just go back in with a damp brush and soften it. Thank-you for your comment, Raji!!!

  18. You captured Biskit so well that I want to play with big laughing, happy him! LOL. Hi Leslie!

    • Hi Eva! Thank-you! I remember you saying you have or had a German Shepherd????? Yes. Biskit is always laughing!

      • Oh yes, my family had a German Shepherd when I was a child. And I’ve been very good pals with a Golden–plus my two late canine family members who were large good natured folks.

  19. Biskit looks so friendly, I want to cuddle him! The eyes speak tons and I almost hear the sound he is making, from his open mouth! Lovely as usual Leslie! I will be taking a break from my painting but will check out on your work and get back to you as I have been doing so 🙂

    • A break is good! I will miss you, though, for the time I can’t view your wonderful painting! Thank-you for this comment and for your continued visits over here at wordpress, Padmaja. 🙂

  20. I love the way you’ve done the eyes, and I guess detailing those first is a real good suggestion given that they are normally the main focus of a portrait… Love the way you’ve created the catch-lights in the eyes too with the masking… I tried my first ever watercolour painting this past weekend (still to be posted) and realised very quickly that I have so much to learn about painting…

    • Yay! A new watercolorist! I am jealous because you have a jump on me with that fantastic photography you share with us. I will be popping over! Thank-you for this comment about Biskit’s eyes. I was lucky because the photo I had taken showed them this time. That is not the case most of the time! I am horrid with the camera.

  21. I’m a dog person and I am now madly in love with Biskit! You have given Biskit such a warm, happy feel! Beautiful job, Leslie! **clapping with glee**

    • Thank-you, Beth! Dog people watercolorists know how difficult it is to render their pet. I was just tickled to get this essence of him down for my daughter. 🙂

  22. A dog called biscuit!!
    Ha ha.
    It’s a fantastic painting.
    It stuns me how you can make these painting look so lifelike

    • 🙂 You spelled Biskit correctly and I am chuckling. My daughter, years ago, named him after the rock band Limp Biskit? That is how he got this spelling to his name. Thank-you, Richard. The request was for lifelike, so I worked hard on this one! As you know, I would rather go exploring, wildly, with my paints.

  23. Well done! I knew it was a golden before I even read your story. Biscuit looks exactly like my Max… right down to his liver color nose. You’ve captured beautifully those big golden brown eyes and of course… the happy smile is amazing.

    • A friend of a Golden! Thank-you so much, Emily, for both the visit and taking time to comment. There are a few other breeds who can win with a smile but not as huge as a Golden’s, I think. 🙂

  24. Great art work as usual…I was away for awhile hopefully I can make a come back. Hope you had a wonderful holiday and that this new year will bring even greater success.

    • Hi Alonso!!!!! Welcome back and to the US of A, right? I have been over to see if you were blogging again, from time to time, and will be hopping over as soon as I get caught up over here. Thank you for this comment and letting me know you are back!

  25. Very engaging Leslie! I like the unusual perspective where the dog’s nose plays such an important element of the composition. Come to think of it, this is probably closer to the truth because scent is so important in a dog’s world.

    • O’kay, Al. You win a prize for this comment. I never thought of that; the importance of a dog’s “sniffer”, but you are so right! Thank-you for the comment and opening my eyes and mind furthur! Wow!

  26. Biskit is a beauty and so is his painting. Very nice!

  27. For some reason, my favorite part is his nose. Such a friendly face. Thanks for sharing this.

  28. HE HE HE !!! I just want to kiss that big old nose !!!

  29. Wow – you are really pushing the hot pressed – well done – this is brilliant – And all the best for today – heh heh – (o:

    • …and you are the one that started me on this bit of an addiction with the hotpress paper! I am really enjoying what you are doing with it, also. When we get really accomplished with the hotpress I have heard we need to give painting on bristol board a try. Ha! Now there is a challenge for us! Thank-you, Stephen!

  30. Hi Leslie, Love your Biskit portrait! I am having a stretching time with Cheryl Jorgenson (who is a native of Honduras, by the way). However, I learned so MUCH from you that it sure helps. There are several things I prefer to do the way you showed us, but I will not let that Keep me posted on the classes you girls are doing. I miss all of the mixed media things you had us doing…Sassy

    • Hi Sheryl! Thank-you for continuing to visit the blog! If we could have, we would have all flown down, packed into your “casa” and accompanied you to class. Ha! Learn as much as you can from her and come back and share. I can hardly wait to see what you are doing and learning.
      Thank-you so much for commenting on the blog and choosing Biskit to do so on. Classes don’t start for another 10 days and I will keep you posted. We start with a composition class…..I miss the mixed media, too, but am recently trying to male friends with this hotpress paper. I couldn’t paint a thing on it the first time I tried it.

  31. Biskit! What an adorable name for such an adorable pup. Goldens are such sweet dogs and you really captured the happiness in this pup’s expression. I love his grin. I just want to reach in and give this pup a hug!

  32. Coming here is a joy, a beautiful peaceful joy… Wicked dog

  33. dear leslie,

    for one, i love dogs. i have chronicled them in one of my blogpost entitled “canine memories”. this one knocks me off completely as i can see the glow of the dog’s eye. it is purely magic. i can feel happiness and anticipation. and wonderment. how innocent it is.

    what a way to begin the day with such a happy mood. thanks leslie.

  34. this joyful creature makes me grin. dogs keep on haunting me these days and i’m starting to think i’ve got to stop thinking and maybe, just maybe go for it. (get a dog) laughing, this dog is laughing…that was my first response and you so aptly describe and depict the exuberance here. beautiful…

    • Yep….this dog laughs and I am quite sure my daughter and granddaughter entertain him endlessly! I know you will know when the time is right for the addition of a dog in the family…… When that time is right, you will have added a member to the family who was born with unconditional love. That is my belief. We humans have to remind ourselves. Dogs don’t. Thank-you!

  35. I love dogs, it’s really enjoyed reading your post.

  36. I’m very interested in friskit. You’ve certainly captured the spirit in his eyes! As always, the colours are beautiful and without knowing Biskit I can see how he got his name!

    • The only thing I had to learn, if I chose to use frisket, is to soften an edge. The friskit causes the washes around it to dry with a very distinct hard edge. I find it most helpful for splattering with and for designing those tiny whites around an eye. There are artists like Nita Leland who are experts with frisket and can create all sorts of branches and leafy forms and layer and pour paint around it quite effectively. Thank-you, Keith!!! Loved your cave and waterfall:

  37. I like how you draw and paint animals Leslie. You captured their true essence and spirit. Biskit looks like he’s very enthusiastic and full of energy. This really is a wonderful painting.

    • Thank-you, Francis. I was saying to some of the other bloggers, above, that animal portraits are my favorite to paint. They are fun and challenging, both.

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Leslie White View artwork by Leslie White AboutColored PencilDrawingsFiguresCreative DrawingSelf PortraitsStudent Art 1Student Art 2 « A Dog Named Biskit […]

  2. By Nocturne « Leslie White on 04 Mar 2011 at 9:58 am

    […] so new to me.  I took the reference photo for this painting the night I was trying for a photo of Biskit.  I was drawn to all the overlapping shapes. He was sleeping on one of those cat stands, suspended […]

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