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This is Cooper. He smiles all the time and has loads of energy; even knows tricks! He is owned by friends of mine. I had asked for a reference photo of him about a year ago and had not pushed myself to try a portrait of him.  The challenge, here, was how to save all that white since he is such a light Golden.  I hope I have captured that light, here.  I approached this painting as though I was painting negative space around the lightness of his coat. The white, in this, is the white of the paper. I shaded the real light areas  by using light washes of the turqouise color I used in the background.  I also used the turquoise (stronger) to enhance the darks and balance the foreground and the background. I used liquid frisket to save the whiskers and eyelash areas. I scratched the tiny highlight in each eye with a razor blade.


  1. Needless to say, we love this! This is his smiling look! You captured it perfectly.

    • Phew! I can’t tell if I capture something or not. Honest! So thankyou, Caroline.
      I enjoyed playing with carving out his white fluffy chest with a tiny brush! I’ve not attempted something like that before this. …and, of course, the grin. 🙂

  2. You did a lovely job on the light golden fur! He sure looks like a wise old fellow. 🙂

    • He “IS” really smart, Cindy, and abounds with energy. Thank you for the comment about capturing light golden fur. I needed that.

    • Inese Poga Art Gallery
    • Posted September 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm
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    Beautiful as always!

    • Thank you, Inese. I need to say to you that I enjoy your posts about your art classes and how you inspire your students.

  3. You certainly captured the color and the softness of this beautiful golden. I love your gift of capturing the essence of the animals you paint Les.

    • Hi you wandering soul, you! Thankyou for taking time to drop in and comment on Cooper! Hope you are enjoying every minute of your vacation!

  4. Looks just like him, I love it 🙂

  5. Cooper, you can be my buddy any day!!!!
    Wow, Leslie, it’s like you caught a angel with your paints.

    • Oh wow, thankyou, Eva. That is exactly what his coat feels like if I were to describe how very soft it is. Thank you for that….His owners will really appreciate your comment about him being an angel. He is a very special to them.

  6. He is such an adorable soul, just look at his eyes that convey a ton! So las you could do full justice with this beautiful portrait Leslie!

    • Thankyou, so much. You are always so complimentary, always, Padmaja. Oh, I hope you are right about this appearing soulful. He is adorable.

  7. I can feel how soft his fur is! And that smile — what a charmer. You sure captured this guy, Leslie. Love the way you did the fur. I’m not kidding … I can literally feel how soft and silky it is.

    • What can I say, but thankyou so much, Kate. His coat is soft! …and silky! You just made my day!

  8. I love how you painted Cooper. You kept the whites of his blond coat on the underside and the golden fur on top, and kept him fluffy too. He looks like a very friendly dog like most goldens. I really like the gradients of blue in the background. You even got his tags! Give Cooper a nice doggy cookie for me when you see him next.

    • OK. I have decided I have the best blogger friends ever! Thank you for the comment about his coat. It is so white and so soft and has all these feathery strands on his ears and fluff at his chest. Thank you for your comment to this.
      The blue was kind of fun to do. I worked with a tiny brush up next to his chest and a larger one as I moved outward and kept it very wet and worked very quickly. Knew I had to do this all in one pass before it dried, so where it is darker I fed strong concentrations of color in and not so much where it is cottony light.
      I’ll bet his owners already have that cookie covered! 🙂

  9. Cooper is indeed one beautiful Golden Retriever. And yes; he does look to be smiling. Beautiful painting, Leslie!

    • Thank you, Sherry! …and thankyou, also for your perk of that book about crayon painting! I love the whole idea of that and I am going to give it a try, too. I don’t know how soon but it will be a side project as soon as I get time and then will try it with the Granddaughter!

  10. Wonderful painting and really enjoyed reading about your process in this piece.

  11. This is beautiful yet simple… 🙂 Which makes it easy on the eye… And breezy too~

  12. Just beautiful Leslie. Trust me, I know a thing or two about goldens.

  13. Thank you for the explanation. I saw the painting this morning but I was not able to read the text and I was asking myself all the day how did you use for the white. Perfectly clear after reading!

    • Thankyou, Nuno. I really enjoy sharing how I render things with all of you.

  14. Lots of character and movement. A great subject to paint.

    • Thank you for that comment on Character and movement, Outsideauthority!

  15. Hi Cooper ! You looks really sweet !
    Great drawing as always , Leslie 😃❤️

    • Thankyou, Violet! I’ll bet Malus would love to tease Cooper once they got to know each other. I chuckle just thinking about it. 🙂

  16. Absolutely gorgeous! Inspires me to paint my cat!

    • Thankyou, Susaleena. I can’t think of a better way to honor one of my portraits than to say it inspires another to paint.

  17. Cooper looks like a happy guy. I hope he is better behaved than my Ding Dong Dog golden. You have captured him well.

    • Thank you. 🙂 Cooper is well behaved, but does have tons of energy!

  18. He’s gorgeous and what a beautiful portrait of him! I love how you did the negative painting to leave the shine on his coat!

    • Thank you, so much. That means a lot to me, coming from you, because I think your dog portraits are among the best.

  19. wonderful work, and a beautiful ‘puppy’ 😉

    • Thank you, Scott.

      What’s going on over your way? The other day, I clicked on your site and it said you were no longer blogging and then I click on your URL, tonight, and went to another site and can’t figure out how to use it….. Oh well give me some time to try and figure it out.

      • was having some issues, but all is well, thanks, and she-who-must-not-be-named made it clear she wanted me to choose one site to maintain, so it had to be the one I pay for

  20. Hi Leslie! I am a DAWG LUVVER so you can imagine how I feel about this painting. Lovely, and you did a great job of capturing the shiny coat with all of the highlights. He looks loving and well cared for. Bet this dog gives back as much as he gets…

    • I remember that you have dogs hanging out with you. They are the best! Cooper does give back, for sure. Thank you. …and great to have you back!

  21. Beautiful work Leslie, always an inspiration.

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