Two years ago a woman from our art club visited Alaska for the Iditarod race and kindly shared her photos with her fellow artists. At that time I was just starting to work in pastel and painted these two charming dogs. In the photo they’re standing at the side of a large truck, clearly waiting for the action to begin. I love this photo so much that I wanted to try it again now that I have more experience with the medium.
In my first attempt, I just made the background a solid blue, but this time I wanted to place the pair in an Alaskan landscape and left plenty of space in front of them to balance the composition. For the scene, I decided on somthing pretty simple – a snowy bare landscape with an early morning sky.
Beginning the black dog was a challenge as I clearly didn’t want to make him just black. So I underpainted him with a cool, slightly turquoise blue. And I placed a light blue textured with gray under what would be his white fur. I underpainted the brown and white dog with blue also, but used lighter colors. Since the dogs are back-lit by dawn light, they will definitely have a blue cast to them.
I worked a very dark brown for the black dog’s fur, using lighter brown here and there where the barely visible highlights are. It was important to me that he have a sculpted form to the extent that the lighting and his dark color would allow. I used a variety of browns on the other dog.