Tuesday, September 12, 2023



9/4/23 Bluey (Blackwing graphite in Field Notes Streetscapes sketchbook)

My human portrait practice continues on a sporadic basis, and lately I’ve been expanding to dogs. I wish I could find a steady source of free animal reference photos that’s similar to my never-ending supply of humans from Earthsworld. I search Unsplash occasionally, but the selection is limited.

First up is Bluey, a young golden retriever (at left). It was one of several images offered by @judydrawsetc (a student of France Van Stone) on Instagram for anyone to draw from.

9/6/23 Corgi (Fibralo markers in Hahnemuhle sketchbook; 
reference photo by Nataliia Kvitovska on Unsplash)
I had so much fun drawing Bluey that I then searched Unsplash for more dogs and found an adorable corgi (below; reference photo by Nataliia Kvitovska). One benefit of portrait practice (human or otherwise) is that it also gives me an opportunity to try different media. I’m not crazy about the Fibralo brush markers that came in my Caran d’Ache botanical set, at least for urban sketching, so I gave them a try here.

Just as I was looking for more dogs to sketch, a friend posted several photos on Facebook of a rescue pup named Ned (below), who is happily and safely living with my friend while he finds his “forever” home. Jeff Chin, who took the reference photo, is a volunteer photographer for Dog Gone Seattle, a rescue and adoption organization. According to comments Jeff is receiving, Ned is capturing a lot of hearts.

9/7/23 Ned (Prismacolors in Streetscapes sketchbook;
reference photo by Jeff Chin)
Time notes: All of these are about 4 or 5 inches. While Bluey (graphite) and Ned (colored pencils) took about 40 minutes each, the corgi (markers) took half that time. In addition to the effects I want to achieve, I often weigh the time requirements of one medium against another when I’m beginning a sketch. Since I do most of these photo-based portraits while I’m relaxing in the evening, it’s not as if I have a time constraint (other than my waning energy level at that time of day). My self-enforced time restrictions, though, are part of my practice challenge. I know that if I’m willing to spend eight hours on a drawing, I’ll probably eventually get to the point where I like it (I hope), because I can continually pick at it and “fix” things. It’s much more challenging to set a rough time limit and see how much I can capture in that time. If I’m nearing an hour and unhappy, it’s time to stop. Then I see what I can learn from it.

Media notes: Although the marker sketch was much faster, and I was pleased that the water-soluble colors blend reasonably well, markers always have a stark, graphic look. For animals, I prefer the soft, furry look of dry media, even if the sketches take a little longer.

To head off any questions about subject matter, yes, I do like cats as much as dogs (and sadly, I’m allergic to both), and I’ve sketched a few that belong to friends, like Chevrolet and Cleo. But dogs are more fun to draw simply because they have more form to their heads.


  1. All of these are great. I'm partial to the first and last because I love seeing the texture of the fur from the media you used. Hope there will be more of these.

    1. Thank you! There will definitely be more dog sketches in the future!

  2. I've discovered your blog just today and am soooo happy about it: there are so many things we have in common (although I've just begun to draw again after a nearly decade long lost mojo ref. drawing and painting).

    The Wikimedia movement (that's the "mother" of Wikipedia) also has a photo-platform; as all Wikimedia projects support the motive of spreading contents freely, you can use those photos - at least 99,9 % - for free, including commercial use.
    One has to get accustomed to their category system and not all of these photos are "quality photos", I usually find lots of material there, be it with botany, buildings, cities, or animals :)
    I hope you'll find sth interesting:

    Keep drawing! (I'll go on reading all your great content)
    Cheers from Germany,

    1. Thanks for the tips, Gabriele! And I'm happy to hear that you are enjoying my blog! :-)

  3. I have one more thought to add ref. Wikimedia Commons: you don't have to register in order to download images. And you can spend hours there in order to see all subcategories or discover new categories and images.


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