Painting a black dog doesn't seem difficult until you either look carefully at a black dog or look equally carefully at many photographs of black dogs. Although some people may think that painting a dog of any color or any kind is difficult, and to that I'd say everything can be difficult. So here's a brief history of what I did in the hopes that writing about it will keep some of it in my mind for next time.
I looked at many photographs of labs because I've never owned one, and I needed to understand things like the shape of the skull, the length of the snout, the ears, mouth, body, legs . . . . Even though I didn't paint the entire dog, I did have to understand what made the dog look as it did as it lay on the sofa (which was a plaid that I knew I wasn't going to put into the painting).
Then I had to think about the color of the dog - black. Black has many different colors in it and reflects many different colors. So how can I show the folds and shadows? And how in heck can I paint a black-lab black.
That's where the idea of using pastels came in. I knew I could get a more intense black with pastels. Had I ever used pastels, no. That's the way I do things, and it isn't always smart. Thank heavens for Internet and YouTube both of which I used to figure out the best way to begin as it was midway between painting classes. I purchased a pastel paper pad that had the gray color paper that I knew I wanted. Note to self: check the quality of paper before buying it! I didn't. Hated the paper; the side I used (which may have been the wrong side - another note to self . . .) had honeycombs which meant that the pastels stayed on the raised ridges even when I rubbed the pastel across, up and down, diagonally, etc. But the black was really dark - except for the centers!
Then I remembered a YouTube title that I had seen while trying to figure out to to use pastels with no points (I didn't want to waste them by rubbing the chalk against a surface until a point was made). I could use watercolors, too. That was the first rescue mission on this painting . . .
And that's probably enough for tonight.