Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait: Pongo’s Dalmatian Dots

pastel portrait of dalmation
“Pongo”, pastel, 12″ x 18″, 2007 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Portraits of animals with irregular and asymmetrical markings are always fun because everything is unexpected as I work. Obviously a Dalmatian’s spots are going to be everywhere, and drawing them is like charting the stars. I love their hound-dog features, the long but deep muzzle, soft flopped ears and liquid brown eyes as well as their muscular physique under their sleek, crisp fur.

Pongo’s person had won a certificate in a shelter auction and was very excited to have a portrait of her ten-year-old Dalmatian, knowing that sometimes their lifespan wasn’t too much longer than that. He was still quite active and in good health so she had and took a number of photos of him. She wanted a fairly simple portrait of her dog, all of him, but just enough background to show him off, no scenes or toys. As do many dogs, Pongo loved the outdoors, and like a good Dalmatian, he was very happy and playful. Initially, we had decided to use the pose in the upper left of the reference photos, below, which both of us really liked, but we also liked his quiet side in the lower right. In the end, the second choice won.

photos of dalmatian
Reference photos for Pongo.

In the end, I used elements from other reference images, using the summer grass from one as well as the reflected highlights from another since the chosen pose was quite dark. I love the pose as well as the simple background, and because of the lighting, late in the day and angled, his white fur reflected both the green of the grass and the blue of the sky from the left and above. As with many others, I didn’t get the detail shots I’d like to have now, but the image below shows more detail of his face and chest.

Honestly, I love color and often add touches of accent colors in highlights and shading, but I don’t think my portrait was quite as intense as this, though the goal was to make a striking portrait, one of the reasons we wanted all the grass; the camera I was using then had a tendency to overdo it a bit…

pastel portrait of dalmation
Detail of Pongo’s face and chest.

And how do you draw every blade of grass without drawing every blade of grass? You just make it look like you drew every blade of grass! And I owe it to the dog portraits I’ve painted that I worked that out to a system of strokes, shades and colors worked in layer after layer, blended with fingers and the side of my hand, and worked out with more strokes.

pastel portrait of dalmation
Grass and paws detail.

I did finally get to meet Pongo after the portrait was done. I was set up as a vendor at Panhandle Tails for National Trail Day in 2007 and Pongo would be attending along with his people and his canine siblings, so I got to meet the whole family and hand over the portrait. I’m so pleased to have given them a lasting memory of a dog who meant a lot to all of them.


Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.

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My Portraits Brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.


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Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

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Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

© 2013 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski



From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

2 thoughts on “Commissioned Portrait: Pongo’s Dalmatian Dots

  • The pensive pose is a terrific choice, Bernadette.
    Pongo, I am smiling for you. . . . Such a good dog!

    • Thanks, Meg, I like to do the unusual poses now and then.


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