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Recently I went to see the new Pirates of the Carribean movie with my sister. Johnny Depp makes me laugh!  I guess that jogged my memory of a cool photo Tracey sent me when she was in California last year.  I believe she said she thought I might like the challenge. This was a guy who ran a booth at a festival that sold dog wear, leashes and bandanas and such. …and, yes, Tracey, challenging it was.

I revisited hot press paper again as I am trying to get the feel of painting on this surface.

Below are some steps in my process for those of you who like to see that.  No special techniques other than the use of some frisket in a few places.

I prepared a line drawing, first. I used that cross hair acrylic grid that I spoke of in a previous post here. This helped me visualise the placement of the two figures and their shapes.

I started the painting with the blue cap and the blanket on the dog. I think I did this to get a sense of the values I needed. I usually do not begin with darks. Next, I worked on the dog because I knew I wanted him to dominate the scene and the guy just back him up.

I wet the entire surface of the background and ran two of the colors I had used in the portrait from top to bottom by applying the pigment onto the wet surface at the top of the paper and tilting it so it would run down the page.  If any of the pigment ran onto the figures, I dabbed them off with a paper towel.  I painted in the bandana, guy’s hair, and removed the frisket around the dog’s glasses, bandana, tip of nose and guy’s hair.

  finished painting

I finished the painting by softening and defining the areas that had frisket applied. I also had to work with adding some darks to the man’s skin tones.





  1. Lovely light in this painting. Also, made me smile because it looks a lot like lucy.

  2. Well you certainly rose to that particular challenge Leslie, and came out firmly on top… What a great subject… I love the way you’ve captured the light too..

    • Thank you, Brian. I have to give the “great subject” comment to my friend Tracey, mentioned in the post, above. She is always sending me challenges. One that I have not painted, yet is a very busy cafe street scene. It is devoid of people but has tons of signs!!!!! I don’t think I can handle that one. Ha!

  3. haha nice pirate dog~! especially its hat

    (i always want to watch that movie but haven’t got chance yet… love jack sparrow so much~!)

    • That crinkly pirate’s hat IS ALL THAT. I agree, Summer. I go to these movies just to see Depp as Jack Sparrow. Thank you, Summer. 🙂

  4. Love all the highlights, Leslie. This painting reminds me of my own Yorkie when my husband lets her sit on his shoulder; she even falls asleep there.

    • She does? How cute is that? Are you going to paint her, sometime? I think she would make great subject material for any media you would choose to render her in.
      Thank you for the comment, Debbie!

  5. Wow! That’s amazing, Leslie! I’m glad seeing the work from basic sketch to final. The painting looks like a movie poster. I cannot share much about acrylic paintings, but I like how you distributed the colors – the whole saturation of hue looks so great.
    Beautiful artwork!

    • Thank you so much, Irina. Really? You think it would make a good movie poster? That would be something. I thank you, again, for that.

      • yeah, I think so! Some awesome film poster… it’s so moving and looks very alive, why not? I also believe such talented individuals should also think in participating in cartoon creation. You can make very interesting creatures out of watercolor and acrylic… that would be quite entertaining and definitely eye-catching!
        I was just observing enlarged versions… thanks again!

      • I have tried caricature a very limited amount. Usually mine come out looking rather scarey. 🙂 Practice. I must practice. Thanks again, Irina.

  6. Leslie, you got very realistic skin tones and they are so bold and clean. The whole painting is great and it is clear who is the star of show. The dog is very patient to put up with all the clothing but what a personality. Cool work!

    • I agree that the dog is very tolerant. Mine would have that hat off “spit-spot” and the glasses would probably never get on. 🙂 I agree that the dog is the star. This man had a rather rosey skin tone which I think made it a lot easier to paint. I’d like to get more values and brushstrokes in as I am experimenting with hotpress paper and am really liking it. I was afraid to go furthur. I must be patient. Thank you for these comments, Linda.

  7. This is so cute Leslie. I bet the dog saw a lot of the world from up there and he liked it a lot. I use gridding sometimes when I do animals portraits, too. All of those curves can throw me off compared to the architectural angles.

    • I always use those crosshairs when I have a double or more figure unless I am going for distortion. I agree with the vision the dog had as long as those shades didn’t block it for him. 🙂 Thank you, Ruth!

  8. Love the subject Leslie, made me smile. You’ve captured the lighting beautifully.

  9. Hi dear leslie! frisket is the name of special paste,isn’t it?
    Thank you for teaching portrait painting, it is really useful.
    Also, this dog is really funny 😀

    • Frisket or liquid masking fluid is like a rubber cement that is used to save small areas of white. It is rubbed off, later, after the paint has dried. I usually use it to splatter and add texture or to save tiny white designs and highlights like in this painting. I do have a tutorial of a portrait I did last winter here: This is my favorite procedure on coldpress paper. I am still working on the hotpress. Thank you, Zeinab! 🙂

      • Aha , because we call frisket “miskit” I doubted … now I reallize that both of them are the same thing! Thank u dear! and also I have to ask another question. what is the diffrence between cold and hot press. because here I only find different weight of paper! There are few brand name like Fabriano and Arch. perhaps the shopkeepers do not have enough information about art and painting… anyway Thank dear Leslie for answering my question!

      • Yes. So many names for the frisket miskit masking.

        Hot press paper is a very smooth surface. Coldpress has some texture to it and Rough is very bumpy. That is the general difference. Then there are differences in them between namebrands. Some namebrand Rough is bumpier than another namebrand. Some namebrands have more sizing in their papers than other namebrands. It all ends up to be personal preference when it comes to paper. There are different weights in papers, also. The two most common weights are 140lb and 300lb. Hope that helps, Zeinab.

  10. Wow! This is great Leslie! love the little dog in the pirate hat! A very successful composition indeed. Lots of nice light in there too. The enlarged version is amazing!

    • Thank you so much, Lynda. I wish I had a whole passle of reference material toward the whimsical. They are fun and I find myself chuckling as I paint. Your favorable comment on the light means a lot…… appreciated.

  11. (Said with a pirate voice) Arrrr! She who slapped parchment with paint, has talent says I!
    Very cool and fun Leslie.

  12. I love Pirate Dog …

    Our neck of the woods has been all stirred up recently by the discovery and exploration of Black Beard’s ship “Queen Annes’ Revenge” down the road a couple of hours at Beaufort, NC …

    — Judson

    • Why thank you, Judson. I think I heard something on one of the news specials about that. Black Beard. I must read up on him. I wanted to a while back and kept pushing it to the back of my list. Thanks for reminding me! 🙂

  13. When I see these stages on this fabulous painting, Leslie, I realize that I would have stopped too early if I dared to pick up a brush. You have the eye, talent and knowledge to know the touches needed to give the painting its vitality. As a writer, I strive for that same ‘stretch’ and state. I usually have to ‘cut out’ to achieve that clarity and aliveness. Which do you usually have to do – ‘add’ or ‘remove’ – to achieve the result you want?

    • It is interesting that you ask me this, Amy; especially on this one. I think this one could use more definition and a wider value range but fear of messing up what I already had down stopped me. I am still learning with this particular paper surface. I want to get more brushstrokes in and more variation of color. I can do that with other papers. For some reason, this paper speaks differently and I need to grow in brush handling skills before “pushing it”. I’ll get there. I don’t like succumbing to fear, but feel that there are times when it gently guides me and offers me some time to reflect on what I have learned with a particular piece. More like an honest acceptance of not being ready and just appreciating where I am. Most of the time, I am done when I tire of a subject. Other times I am done when one more step seems impossible to add. Here, I was going for the dog, his glasses and the kerchief. I would have liked to add more color and contours to the guy’s portrait but felt it might fight with the dog so I let well enough alone. Each painting is different and my skill level is different from month to month so my “finish” is rarely predetermined.
      I mentioned to someone, not long ago, that nothing that I paint ever comes out the way I planned it. Each painting is a journey and it helps me to complete it. There’s another voice in there, just like the one that spoke to you on your recent walk; through the bees! 🙂
      For anyone reading comments, here is Amy’s bee story:

  14. Now Leslie, you quickly grabbed my attention by mentioning JD and Pirates of The Caribbean, Sigh!! (just picking myself up from the floor. 😉 ) Just steadying my thoughts again, and looking at the Watercolour, The li’l doggie steals the show, (esp as he’s wearing a pirates hat) but the softening you did, shown on the last photo, WOW!! came up trumps and I just love the finished piece. It just oozes character. (esp the li’l doggie!!) 😀 xPenx

    • I’m sorry it was not Johnny Depp, Pen. But this little guy could fit in the movie with JD, don’t you think? Ha! 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comment. Dogs rule!

  15. This must have been a lot of fun.
    The little dog dangerous, as the pirate, as well as cool with the shades!!
    Beautiful fun painting – I love it, Leslie!! Well done again.

    • Thank you, Jan! Had some fun with this one. That’s for sure! 🙂

  16. L$,
    You are so great. I love that you paint damn near anything with watercolors. I can only paint abstracts and monsters, but you!….you want to paint everything and anything lol. I love this and all your work. 😀

    • Ronny. Thank you so much. This medium of watercolor just grabbed me from the get-go. I look at the water and the pigment as a partner in my creations because I can honestly say that this medium has a “voice of its own”. It has taught me that an artist needs to have faith in his or her medium. This medium humbles and always offers up something new. Because of this? I explore. You just did trees!!!!! with this medium. I thought that was gorgeous!

  17. Leslie, I love that picture. Outstanding! You’ve met the challenge and more.

    • Thank you, Dan. This was a totally fun experience to bring this pirate forward. Ha! Thanks for visiting me!

  18. This is sooooo beautiful, Leslie. Love the vibrant colors.

  19. I like this one, Leslie! good job on the skin tones! There are lots of people like him out here, the closer you get to Hollyweird…hahaha

    • Thank you, Frank! 🙂 Perhaps he was from “Hollyweird” since the reference photo was taken in California.

  20. This is wonderful. I like that you did soft colors and that the dog looks at us while the man looks away. Something about that appeals.

    Love Pirates and Depp too. He is funny. Works hard I think, but doesn’t take himself too seriously.

    • You are so good at recognizing that turn of the head to the guy. Tracey sent me an awesome photo to work with by capturing the guy looking away. Johnny Depp has certainly influenced our feelings about pirates hasn’t he? Thank you, Jamie!

  21. Thank you dear, that was really helpful.

    • Exploring different watercolor papers is really fun. I can switch to a new one and my work appears much different…. I don’t think it is possible to get bored with this medium because there is always something “new” to learn. You are welcome.

  22. This is such a cool painting – very funny – well done
    Hot Pressed is a great surface hey?
    Takes a bit of getting used to for me – but you have dealt with this in such a masterful way

    • You are the reason I began working on hot press, Stephen. I had tried using it two years into painting and could not handle the surface at all. I think I needed to develop “patience” before returning to it. I really like it, now , and want to perfect my skills on it. Yes. I like it very much. Thank you!

  23. Lovely. I got smile on my lips this morning when I saw Your very beautiful painting. It was good start to me. Thank You.

    • Thank you, Sartenada. I think you pegged it. It is a fun vision to start a summer day and I thank you for bringing that to my attention. A little whimsy and something funny just seems to set the tone for the rest of the day to fall in place. 🙂

  24. My apologies, I have been so falling behind not only in my painting, but visiting everyone’s blogs, including yours. End of Fiscal Year ’11 has made us all crazy at work. Today is the NEW YEAR, Fiscal year ’12. Happy New Year NYC!

    I must admit I have never seen one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Although I do like Johnny Depp. This pirate dog made me laugh when I first came to your blog. If the man turns will there be a parrot on his other shoulder?

    • Oh I love that thought of a parrot on his other shoulder!!!! Why didn’t I think of something creative like that and have painted one peeking under the guy’s chin? 🙂

      You are not to worry about blog visits. Come when you can. You have been a faithful follower ever since I started in blogland and I thank you !

      HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

  25. Leslie, that is the coolest “couple” that I have ever seen. Great work on the color and texture. That is one thing I never was able to accomplish in a painting, that is probably why I prefer photography.

    You, on the other hand, are a master. Always a pleasure to see your work, and very inspiring.

    • …and here I sitpainting because I can not seem to get photos like you!!! Thank you Anne. 🙂

  26. That is the cutest thing–dogs don’t seem to mind being put into all different kinds of costumes! Even wearing dark glasses! I enjoy reading about the tools and techniques you use and seeing the process as you go along. It’s really fun for me. Thanks, Leslie.

    Johnnie Depp is a favorite of mine. He does a great job as Capt. Jack Sparrow.

    • My Russell would not stand for it but my Maltese would tolerate me playing around a little better and think, “Oh boy! She’s paying attention to us!” 🙂 Thank you, Bodhirose!

  27. Fun picture and painting, Leslie! 🙂

  28. Hahaha, this is awesome. I LOVE that pirate dog. You did such a beautiful job. Wow! The reflections in the dog’s sunglasses are so wonderful.

    • 🙂 Thank you so much, Amber. I worked hard on those reflections. I’d love to be able to paint the reflections in a store window someday……….

  29. This is an adorable and sweet one Leslie….I can see the charm in both characters coming through….beautiful. Rx

    • Thank you, Raven. The reference photo for this sat and sat because I was too afraid of the detail in it for so long. Why do I do that when all of you are so supportive of my learning process. Adorable and sweet is good….many thanks. 🙂

  30. Very beautiful, Leslie! A tough reference and you did a wonderful job!!! 🙂

  31. Thank you, Beth!!! 🙂

  32. not that i would know but i hear faces are difficult… this wonderfully captures tones and features with vibrance, as always, so alive. and what a jolly dog! gotta love a pirate… (i’m partial to the depp variety meself 😉 )

    • I think portraits are difficult if the artist wishes to capture that nuance and likeness they see. That takes some time to develop. However, much can be done with a face that would be considered art and representational withou that likeness. Thank you for this “alive”, vibrant and “jolly”, JRuth. I think Depp is received warmly because he is so entertainingly honest! Don’t you? 🙂

  33. It is nice to see a step by step guide and this
    one is nicely finished too, an excellent entry into
    your blogging arena Leslie…

    Thank you for sharing your world of artistic flair

    Androgoth Xx

    • I think I pulled this reference photo out because I saw the Johnny Depp photos you posted for Pen. Ha! Thanks for commenting, Andro.

  34. I’ve missed your portrait work Leslie, this is lovely with an amazing spectrum of colour. Keep posting.

    • I need to spend some more time with portraiture again. Life seems to be bringing me a few more things to addressbut hope to get back to painting more SOON! Thank you, Keith!

  35. WOW! you are quite a talent, beautiful, just beautiful!

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