Laura and Dad. 1954??

So this morning I open my FB account and the above  hits me between the eyes. That is my Sis and my Dad in about the very early fifties on a beach. It is a memory of my sister and could make an interesting painting?

Question: Am I up for it?

Answer: No!

Why? Because I am chicken. Scared shitless. Maybe a month of solid sadness? Would you?

In addition, I have the Black Dog with me at this point (for those who are not familiar with this animal, look it up.) I have therefore decided to put everything into my own ”Favourite memory category”. I have the time as I have some cool work for exhibition already completed. The choice is simple. Zulu. He represents a favourite time of mine. Weddings, grand kids and Zulu go hand in hand(paw), as does peace, Max, and a sort of graceful existence. And I love him and he is alive. Not for sale. For Penny.

Zulu watching his friend Max on his deathbed. A superb shot for all the right reasons. A "must paint" before it is too late.

Have fun.


For starters I mixed all the paint I had left on the palette from the Beach Walk and scrubbed it onto a 50x 40 cm canvas. Then some fun. I poured some white spirit onto the surface of the painting in a rough dog shape. Then I blotted it all off with kitchen towel. Always a pleasing result as you never know what you are going to get. For proof of this have a look at “The Big Bang” page. In this instance I got a dog that looks like “Jay” who is Zulu’s buddy and a working sheep dog.


This is going to be a challenge but very enjoyable.

By far the most important factor in painting a portrait is passion and the eyes. Start on the eyes and work outwards. It makes sense. I drew the eye first and then, using a dark colour (black) I started sketching from the OUTSIDE IN. Much more forgiving and it seems easier. Using my new Purple and loads of white I filled in the animal. With Zulu it is all about the eyes as he has the eyes of a wolf. Today I will start taking measurements. Loads of them. Eye to tip of nose. Length of mouth. Ears and all the distances between these elements. Get the eyes mouth and nose exactly correct and you have a good portrait.

I love my dog.

Getting all the bits in the right places.

Using calipers, ruler and protractor I have tried to place the important features in the correct places. If you make an error don’t kill yourself as there plenty of time to correct it. The painting is now soaking wet so that is all I can to today.


The most striking features of Zulu is his mane and his eyes so it is these that I will pay most attention to. He is a spoilt bastard so that must be reflected. He is moody at times if we take him on the wrong walk. In this image of Zulu he is sad and confused. His best friend in the world cannot move. Why? What do dogs know about death? Maybe more than we realise. I used all sorts of cold colours for the shadows and all sorts of warm colours for the light.

Painting the White dog with the Black Dog.

I paint well when the Black dog is about. Still a way to go. If you want to meet the Black Dog look Matthew Johnson up on google.

"Dealing with stuff"

"Dealing with Stuff".

A lot of “stuff” has been going down while doing this portrait. Life stuff. Stuff that needs to be dealt with kind of stuff. Sometimes it’s good stuff and other times it’s shit stuff. We talking shit stuff here. My wife Penni has been in pain due to an old war wound and this has had to be dealt with. Not easy but we are on the right road.

I have though been able to paint everyday although some days are short sessions. This painting is unusual in that it is not for sale or exhibition. This is for Penni and myself. For those who love their pets they know what it all means.

No recipes, no instructions, no tips, no nothing other than me, my paint, my brushes and time. Time to ponder. Time to think. My way of dealing with shit.

Long story short, I love this painting and I am enjoying the destraction it provides when needed. That little dark area is the dog collar and ID disk taking shape. Still a lot to do but I do believe that I am going to settle for the background I have arrived at.


Zulu 2018 completed

Zulu 2018

I have really enjoyed doing this painting. The “Black Dog” is long gone and Penni is looking healthier than I have seen her in a long while. After lengthy consultations with a top specialist in necks and spines and heads, it seems as if surgical intervention is on the cards and this is a massive step forward.

The portrait itself is, in my opinion, a success in that it is unmistakably our dog. I had to make a “two fine haired” brush to do the fine work and in fact used one of Zulu’s whiskers to paint the whiskers. I decide to drop the collar and the name tag. I hope you like it.


Two mallard ducks have taken over the garden and they are most welcome as they keep the pheasants at bay. These cheeky water fowl are demanding. They let us know when they are hungry and they like to paddle and crap in Zulu’s water bowl. I think they are certainly worth a painting and the fact that I can get within 3 or 4 feet from them is a bonus. This morning Mama duck was in the conservatory and I don’t know who got the biggest fright, Penni or the duck, when Penni let Zulu out at 6am.