Animals Oil Painting

Cocoa: A Dog Portrait

Cocoa: Dog Portrait, oil on panel, 8x8"
Cocoa: Dog Portrait, oil on panel, 8×8″

When I was given the photo of Cocoa to paint from, I pointed out that her face was covered with mud or sand. I was asked if I could paint her without the dirt. I laughed, since I’d just finished a commissioned watercolor from a photo of an industrial building that was partially hidden by cars, which they requested I remove in the painting. Since I pulled off that bit of x-ray vision (not really—I visited the facility to see what was hidden), I thought I might be able to paint a clean dog from a dirty one.

My favorite part to paint was her nose. I referred to the second photo below to see her fur color sans mud.

Cocoa in her sandy face photo
Cocoa in her muddy-face photo
Cocoa minus the mud
Clean Cocoa

The person who commissioned the painting as a gift for Cocoa’s owner said the painting looks just like Cocoa and she was sure her owner would love the painting. (I hope so!)

Cocoa Preliminary Sketch 2
Cocoa Preliminary Sketch 2
Cocoa Preliminary Sketch 1
Cocoa Preliminary Sketch 1

Above are the preliminary sketches I did loosely, just playing around, trying to get to know Cocoa. I love dogs and I love painting dogs!

13 replies on “Cocoa: A Dog Portrait”

Thanks Judy, I appreciate the word clean”–not sure if I’m interpreting it correctly but I think you mean that I kept it simple and stopped before it got overworked? If so, I’m happy! Jana


Thanks Carol. Me too! I can’t go for a walk without stopping every dog/owner along the walk so I can pet their dog. Definitely have a serious case of dog envy thanks to two cats that probably wouldn’t tolerate another pet in the family. Jana


At first glance, I thought your painting was a photo! (In my little world, that’s a compliment)

Does it really help to do the sketches first? I’ve never bothered with that on portraiture, only on buildings when trying to decide the view.

And don’t you just love it when people expect you to know what isn’t visible in a photo? That either makes me laugh or makes me scream, depending on whether I have access to the missing information!


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