portrait of Cooper the fearless rescue-featured

Drawing of Cooper, the fearless rescue dog

Cooper in progress detail-sq

I’ve had an awesome month, art-wise. Well, lots of other ways, too! But anyway, a month ago my husband discovered the r/AccidentalWesAnderson subreddit (we’re both Wes Anderson fans). Since it ended up having a vibe appropriate for this thread, he shared my portrait of Scout on it. The next morning we discovered tons of comments and enthusiasm about the piece and several people reached out to see how they could get a drawing of their dog as well.

One of these fellow Wes Anderson fans who messaged me was Cooper’s dad, Zachary. He loved the human expression captured in Scout’s face and had a fantastic concept in mind for his dog’s portrait. Cooper had been rescued from the top of a mountain, is a fearless jumper, and has a habit of squinting in an unamused way when it’s windy.

Zachary combined these elements (and Cooper’s trademark giant ears!) and imagined him as an old-school bi-plane pilot with a scarf, toothpick, and mountains in the background. Very creative concept, and I was excited to be able to work on it.

Cooper reference photos for custom drawing

The first sketch I created with these elements was looking good to me. But when I got Zachary’s feedback he helped make it even better by suggesting the mountains get taller and skinnier, and moving the bi-plane into the distance. It pushed the whimsical nature of the drawing, and helped create a sense of depth.

sketches of Cooper

The mountains and trees in the background are watercolor, and the banner that displays his name is gouache. I decided to make the letters on the banner look similar to the painted words you’d see on the side of a bi-plane. As I worked on it I thought about the Pima Air & Space Museum near Tucson my husband and I visited a few years ago.

The rest of the portrait is colored pencils — a combination of Polychromos, Caran d’Ache Pablos, and Prismacolor. I’m not a big fan of the Prismacolor because they’re too soft for my detailed work and I had problems with a couple of them breaking off really badly when sharpening. As in the entire tip broke off and got wasted. I only used them because some of the colors I needed weren’t available locally as open stock in the other two brands. I could use a Polychromos set of animal colors ;)

It’s always so cool when a collaboration like this helps take a project to a new level! It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of creating for me.

I really like how alive the eyes are — the combination of squint and raised eyebrows has that human look Zachary was looking for. When I sent him the image to check out before shipping the final artwork, he said it was just how he had imagined. Which totally made my day.

Final mixed media drawing of Cooper the fearless rescue dog