• Kevin Roeckl

Remmy portrait in progress 14

I worked on “Mona Lisa Remmy’s” reflection for several days. These pictures show the progress.

Day 1

The reflection of “Mona Lisa Remmy” is Remmy upside-down, as water reflections always are. I added Remmy’s reflection by “mirroring” him with Photoshop, in my reference layout which you see on the monitor. In Walt’s original photo the water was rough and Remmy's reflection was broken up into little bits by the choppy water.

Colored pencil portrait of Doberman, in progress in the studio with reference photo

Day 2 - Working my way down Remmy’s upside-down reflection.

I’m working on an upside-down depiction, so I can judge how it ties into the surface ripples, which I’m adding as I go. When I work on “Remmy reflection’s” head, I’ll turn the artwork upside-down on my worktable, so I can work on the face “right-side-up”.


In the portrait Remmy is wearing one of his “dress collars” (a favorite that Walt specified, then I added in my Photoshop layout). In the original photo Remmy was wearing an unattractive utility collar with a lot of tags and clips hanging from it.

Colored pencil portrait of Doberman, in progress in the studio with reference photo

Day 3

Until now I've been working on an upside-down depiction, so I could see how it ties into the ripples on the river. Now, for the head, I’ve turned my reference layout upside-down on my monitor, and turned the artwork upside-down on my worktable, so I can work on the face “right-side-up”. The facial features make a lot more sense to me that way.

Colored pencil portrait of Doberman, in progress in the studio with reference photo

Remmy’s reflection finished.

We've started referring to this Remmy as “angel Remmy”, because his reflection will have a halo. I’ll do the halo when I do the whole river surface. You can see it lightly sketched at this point.


For the ripples coming off to the left of the reflection, I’m making the reflection of the tree leaves in the background. In the original photo it was bright white sun on large piles of rocks. The way ripples break up the shapes of what they are reflecting is so interesting. I’ve been fascinated with that and have been capturing it since the beginning of my career.


In real life those big ripples Remmy was creating would distort Remmy’s reflection a lot more, breaking it into zigzaggy shapes. But for this portrait I kept his reflection like an exact mirror-image (just distorting his shoulders a little) so it’s an accurate “second portrait” of Mona Lisa Remmy. That’s called “Artistic License”!

Detail of colored pencil portrait of Doberman, in progress

Here’s the whole portrait so far.

I made Remmy’s reflection lighter than his real self - the black areas are dark grey. That is something I learned from depicting water reflections for so many years: a reflection is lighter, more muted, than the figure. But I also did that because we still want “Mona Lisa Remmy” to be the darkest thing in the portrait so it’s the most important, stands out the most. What I call the “punch line” of a painting….the feature that gives the artwork it’s emotional impact. You can do that with color, or the swoop of lines and shapes leading your eye toward it, or making it lighter or darker than anything else in the painting.


In this case, I used all those things. “Mona Lisa Remmy” is the only true black in the painting, the water splash around him is the only bright white, and the lines of the ripples and splash carry your eye to him and his big smiling face. And the design of the whole river scene frames him as the centerpiece, even though there are 4 other Remmys in the design.

Colored pencil portrait of Doberman, in progress

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