I do a light pencil sketch from a photo of the dog on watercolor paper. Then I start blocking in shapes and laying down the lightest color first.
During this beginning stage, I give special attention to the eyes since they are the soul of the dog and if they aren't correct at this stage, I will never be able to fix them later on.
Next, I start laying down thin washes of color watching that there are no hard edges where they're not suppose to be. I use 2 brushes at this point...a brush to put on the color and a wet brush to blend and wipe away.
Up to this point, there is no actual fur painted. Even though beautiful Ella is a short hair Vizsla, the hair still needs to be stippled on top of the shading. I still go back and forth as I work all the areas together as a whole.
Here's the finished portrait of Ella, 12" x 16", on 140lb. Arches watercolor paper.
Here's the original photo...
To add a final explanation point to my painting, I made a little stamp with a paw print to work my signature around.