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The above portrait is one of the most fun paintings I have done in a while. I worked mostly light to dark and wet to dry to paint the entire image.


I began by doing a line drawing assisted by the use of crosshairs like I described in this post, previously. Prior to painting, erase the crosshairs.


I then used liquid frisket to save the highlights in the eyes, nose, chin and on the dog’s nails. I painted the undercoat of the bars a rusty red, waited for it to dry and frisketed many areas of them so the rust marks would show in the finished painting. I painted the light colored boards on the stall to the left and then used wet-in-wet applications to define the texture of the sawdust on the stall floor.


I painted the blues and reds of the stall boards wet-in- wet. I washed in some of the colors of the doberman trying to retain the light that hit the front part of his muzzle as well as defined the rounded forms of his face. I applied the first washes to his eyes.


I finished the dog’s head, began the paw on the left and pads on the right paw.  I spent a lot of time defining the nose. I began with wet-in-wet applications of color on the nose and finished with darker colors wet on dry. I knew I wanted the nose and paws to have more definition because they were the closest forms to the viewer. I also painted the wood grain on the bottom of the painting with the use of the edge of a flat brush and applying the pigment wet on dry. I also worked on darkening the eye and defining it furthur.


I finished the dog’s paws, painting wet-in-wet, first, and then detailing wet on dry with a tiny brush. I darkened or shadowed the background walls of the stall with a lightened wash of sepia and defined the stall ledge with blues I had used on the background. I strengthened and deepened the color of the dog’s head by scumbling more of the same oranges, yellows and browns into him. This furthur defined his forms and shape and gave him more of a 3-D look.


I used a combination of prussian blue, violet and neutral tint to paint the blacks on the stall bars and waited for that to dry. I painted a thin shadow under the metal strip running across the painting at the bottom.


In this step I erased all the frisket with a “rubber pick up”. The rubber pick up looks like a square eraser and can be found in most art supply stores for the purpose of lifting the frisket from watercolors.

dobieinstall  finished painting

To finish the painting I got rid of the stark hard edges from the frisket on the bars by running a wet brush over them, several times, until the colors blended more and the edges softened. This drags some of the blackened colors into the lighter reds and yellows and softens that frisketed look. I then painted a shadow under the upper eyelid of the right eye on the dog and painted his whiskers in with a rigger brush. I darkened the highlight on the bar to the right of the dog’s head with some copper kettle and raw sienna. I added some soft blue to the underside of the dog’s eye to soften the prominent highlight there on his face. I touched up the detailing on the nose and his nails, darkened his chin and called it finished.

I thank Caron Steinmetz from Paint My Photo for the photo reference for this painting.

Carol King asked a very good question in the comment section about what kind of frisket I use and how I apply it.


Above is a photo of the supplies I often use. Left to right is a natural rubber pick up, Incredible White Mask, Pebeo Drawing Gum, jar of brush cleaning soap and a 2/0 liner brush.

I dampen the surface of the brush cleaning soap by spritzing it a couple of times with my squirt bottle. I wet my liner brush in the water glass and then swish it in the brush cleaner a couple times (I do not coat it thickly with the soap). Coating the hairs of the brush with a gentle soap helps to keep the frisket from sticking to the hairs of the brush and damaging them. I then dip my brush in the frisket (my frisket of choice is the Pebeo Drawing Gum because it is the thinnest and the easiest I have found to work with and does not clump as quickly on the end of my brush). A close second to this frisket is the Incredible White Mask (I have also used it effectively). I then quickly paint the frisket in the areas of the painting I want to save either the white on or, in this case, the red areas of those black bars you see in the above painting. This also requires that I rinse and repeat the soaping and frisket dipping as often as needed to prevent the end of my brush getting clumped up with dried rubbery clumps of frisket. When you work with it, you will know what I mean by that. The frisket, in small amounts, on your brush, can dry rather quickly, so you constantly have to stay ahead of that occurring. Sometimes I have to stop and strip dried frisket off the end of the brush with my fingers. If you are allergic to latex, use gloves when touching this substance. The friskets I pictured, here, have latex in them. Depending on the amount of frisket you use, it takes anywhere from five to fifteen minutes to dry before you can continue painting in order to prevent smeering it. I have also used frisket to splatter a painting. It is very effective for rendering falling snow. In that case, I use a little larger round brush. Warning!  It is not effective to use liquid frisket on large areas as it will often tear the paper. The frisket tends to shrink as it dries those  and you can damage the surface when you remove it. I just save the whites of larger areas by painting around them and softening the hard edges with a damp brush. If you really need to save a large white area by masking, it is advisible to use masking paper found in most art supply stores. Always recap your bottle of frisket immediately following use or it will dry up in the bottle.  Hope this helps you get started on trying the frisket in your paintings.


  1. Wow, Leslie, how cool is this? What a great portrait!

    • That means a lot coming from you, Kate! I consider you one of the top dog whisperers. Thank you. 🙂

    • LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words
    • Posted September 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm
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    • Reply

    he has the cutest expression!
    such a gentle work of art…
    Take Care

  2. Leslie, thank you so much for documenting the whole process. Really it helps a lot!

    • You are welcome, Nuno. Thank you for saying this. I just hope that some of the techniques I use might be able to be used by someone else in their paintings; or give them ideas about how to approach rendering certain images.

      • Yes, certainly they give lots of ideas. I learn with each one of your posts. Thanks again!

  3. I love the expression on the Dobie’s face. Thank for sharing the step by step process.

    • Thank you, Susan. I hope, when I share steps, it helps other watercolorists.

  4. Especially heart warming.
    As a beginning watercolourest…I appreciate the step-by-step process you included. Smiling….I have such a loooong way to go……but the fun is finally getting there. Thank you, L.

    • I hope by seeing the phases some of my paintings go through, others will feel empowered as they face each phase of theirs. I know how you feel about a long way to go. There are so many artists out there who I admire; all sharing something new and adding their own hand to what they do. I want to try it “ALL” ! As you say, it’s great fun doing so! Thank you, Jots! I really like the title of your blogspace. 🙂

  5. Hi Leslie, I see you are working on this labor day weekend. 🙂 Great painting. I had so much fun clicking on each step and then going back and reading about your process along the way. Now, I have many questions…
    What kind of frisket do you use and how do you apply it? Do you think out all of the steps ahead of time or figure it out as you go along? How long did it take you to do this painting?

    Adorable dobie. I hope he isn’t in a stall because he was a bad dog.

    I like how you painted the rust and the sawdust.

    • Hi Carol,
      Thank you for this comment and the great questions! I have added an edit and a photo to the above post just for you regarding your question of what and how I use the frisket. I hope that will help anyone who has not yet tried it and wants to learn.
      As far as thinking out the steps? Yes. I always think about how I might render certain elements in a painting. In this one it was largely how I was going to render the rust on the bars and retain the light on the dog’s muzzle but still make the color of the oranges and yellows on the shaded portion look believable. Because of that, I decided to make this painting more simple in other respects, like painting light to dark and and wet to dry which is “my” most comfortable way to work with watercolor and allows me the most control when I play around with the water and its effects. That said, I am not skilled enough, as yet, to accomplish everything exactly the way my mind would like to have it turn out so I constantly have to readjust my goals, as yet, and look for those “happy accidents” that may appear on the paper. This painting did not take as long as the previous one of the ponies. If I count the drawing time, I would say this painting took around 18 hours to complete. I work in 2 to 4 hour stretches and rarely complete a painting in one sitting anymore. They are always a reflection of drawing and layering and rather methodical applications of several layers to achieve what I want. I often set a painting up on the mantle and rest it and stare at it over a period of a few days prior to deciding I’m finished with it. For that reason, I usually have more than one painting going at a time. It is “constantly” a learning process for me. I think that is what I like most about watercolor. There is always something new to try or learn.
      I am guessing the dobie was in the stall because the owner did not want him tailing her horse while she was riding. 🙂

      • Thanks for your follow up reply. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.

  6. Wow! It’s just beautiful. I particularly like the way the paws are really gripping to hold on. And the face and feet are so well done! Also the rusty bars. Wonderful!

    • Thank you, so much, Cindy. Paws and hands; they intrigue me when I choose to paint them. The nails on a dog or a lion or a tiger are always something I try exceptionally hard to get right. Otherwise they can really ruin a painting and look rather freaky. I really felt challenged by that paw on the right side of this painting so thank you, again! 🙂

  7. A beautiful fun painting! Thank you for explaining your process… incredible… I always look forward to your next work. Thank you so much 😉

  8. Marvelous painting. I really like his nose and paws and I just love the dog. He has so much character.

    • Thank you for that on the nose, Gretchen. You always do so good on animals!

  9. What a great tip for how to use the soap for keeping the brush from being damaged for friskit! I’m now trying a new type of friskit and I think I like it less than the other one I’ve used. Sigh…One day I’ll learn. I have to say that this subject so saddens me. I hate seeing dogs caged like this. I don’t know why. We crate our dogs if we have to leave them home. But doesn’t he look pathetic?

    • I believe this dog was fine. He is in that horse stall for a brief period of time while his owner probably rides the horse. Of course, he probably would like to tag along and run in and out of the horse’s feet. Not always a wise thing. I learned that trick about frisket from about the fifth book I found a tutelage on frisket in. It has been a brush saver!!!!!
      Thank you, Sherry.

  10. It’s beautiful, Leslie!

  11. Gorgeous, but it’s not helping me – I really want a dog, but can’t have one!

    • There was a period of about ten years that I could not have a dog as I was renting and the landlords said “no”. But! My daughter ran into a situation when she went off to grooming school where a 7 lb Maltese was brought in who a lady was not caring for very well and wanted to give him away. My daughter begged me to call the landlady. So, very timidly, I called and asked. The landlady said, “A Maltese? How much does it weigh?” I told her, “7lbs.” She said, “That’s not a dog. That’s a baby. Of course your daughter may bring him home.” Later we found out she had a companion of a 5lb Teacup Poodle. Go figure! Anyway, she brought him home and left him with me, of course while she went out with her boyfriend each night. You got it! He and I became best buds! Are you allergic? Thank you for your comment!

      • Just little things like being at work all day and having a partner that doesn’t like animals (yes I know that should have been one of my first questions when we met) after our cat died we were told “no more!”. We had a plan to smuggle in some hamsters a while ago but the cages were found and the game was up. This picture did remind me of going to the RSPCA shelter to get a dog as a child. I just burst into tears as I wanted to take them all home, including the really old smelly one with the note that said it didn’t like children!

  12. Very unsual portrait that spells class! That is a million dollar expression on his face, I want to go and give him a hug!Remarkably done Leslie!

    • Thank you, Padmaja. Your thoughts were my thoughts when I chose the reference image. I just couldn’t pass up trying for this guy’s expression. 🙂

  13. Beautiful painting Leslie, and loved hearing about the technique you used.

  14. He is very cute, but he does look as though he would like out. I used to walk with my neighbor out in the country and we had to lock up my Brandy (the world’s best dog) to keep her from following us. i was worried about loose dogs on the way. If not prevented, she would sneak out after us and silently follow about 50 feet back.

    • Ha! We had the same issues with our dogs when we had horses. There are some situations when they can trail along but not many. …and if you are doing round pen or ring work it’s never a plus to have a dog bounding around at the same time. 🙂 No doubt this guy wants out! Thank you, so much for your comment, Ruth!

  15. WOW even the bars are expressive. This one’s really alive, Leslie!

  16. Wow, this is such a beautiful painting! I love how you go into so much detail on how you paint – it’s interesting to read and the outcome is simply stunning!

  17. Who can resist a friendly dog? Many of the people I work with have their dogs as the first image they see when they turn on their cell phones! The painting turned out nicely.

    • Funny you should say that, Al. My dogs are the first thing I see when I turn on my computer. 🙂 Thankyou!

  18. O the best behaved dog friend I ever walked with was a Doberman named “Two” — your work reminded me of long leashless walks on old old sidewalks long ago on rainy nights.

    • What a neat memory, Eva. I like that name “Two”. Makes me wonder if the owner named his dogs by when they came along in his life. Thank you for the comment!

  19. Hey nice work Leslie – what a cool project – thanks for the tut on frisket – I destroyed a brush doing this once so now I use a sharpened stick for applying resist when I use it – nice to see you are still on a roll

    • Hi Stephen,
      For some reason, my computer will not let me through to your blog anymore. I’ve missed that.
      Oh yes, no destroyed brush if you wet it and slide it through some brush soap or a mild soap bar. You just have to be careful to rinse and re-soap every once in awhile. I use a very tiny brush and get more precision that way and can even get very fine lines with it. Thank you for this visit and comment.

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Little Bear | Leslie White on 06 Apr 2014 at 10:50 am

    […] A post about frisket is found here. […]

  2. By Splashing Wave | Leslie White on 10 Jan 2015 at 8:50 pm

    […] have outlined how to use liquid frisket with a brush in another post here. Using the frisket with a sponge is much the […]

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