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  • Writer's pictureKevin Roeckl

Louie portrait in progress 1

I’ve started a new portrait for Dean Jalava.

It’s been a long process to decide among the thousands of photos Dean has of Louie (Louie is still alive and well at age 9)…the more than 100 favorite pics that Dean sent me. We’ve been talking about it for a year and I’ve given him tips and suggestions for getting that perfect shot of Louie for a portrait. Dean kept at it and periodically sent me very nice shots of Louie that he’d taken.

Client's reference photos of for a portrait of his Doberman

But in the end it was a totally unplanned photo that Dean took one golden morning while having coffee with his best friend Louie on their deck that was the “forever” memory. Isn’t that often the way it happens?

In our photo-choosing process Dean wrote:

“I know I said I wanted his face showing more … then I get that in newer photos, and now I’m complaining about his ears not being up enough…so it just kinda made me appreciate pic 3695 even more because it’s a real photo that I was lucky enough to catch while having my morning coffee with Louie out on my deck. It’s one of those photos I wasn’t trying to get for a portrait … it just happened. I think it will mean more to me to have a portrait like that. Louie was being himself in that photo. I’m 100% sure…not changing my mind…Golden morning coffee with Louie it is.”

So finally the decision was made.

After he approved my layout for the portrait, Dean said,

“I know years from now when I look at the portrait it will take me back to that morning on my deck having my coffee with Louie enjoying the morning sun.

I replied:

“That’s exactly what I’m going for. That beautiful moment that will live in your heart forever. I have memories like that with my own dogs…specific moments when the sun was just right, and our partnership was perfection, that will live inside me until the day I die.”

Colored pencil portrait of black Doberman on golden-brown Canson paper, in progress

The start of a very special portrait:

“Golden Morning Coffee with Louie”

This piece will capture the whole scene. I chose this “Bisque” Canson paper color to work on, because the red-golden color will imbue the whole painting with the warmth of that golden morning light that was shining on Louie. Dean asked me to write “Golden Morning Coffee with Louie” across the bottom of the portrait, and the date the photo was taken.

Here's a close-up of the first two days' work in the studio:

Close-up of colored pencil portrait of a black Doberman on golden-brown Canson paper, in progress

Working in the studio with the reference photo in front of me on the monitor, the colored pencils I'm using for Louie's face, and my color swatches on a scrap of the same "Bisque" Canson paper. My trusty electric pencil sharpener is sitting at the edge of this shot on the right.

Colored pencil portrait of a black Doberman in progress, in Kevin's art studio with the reference photo on the monitor


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