Bonnie – Oil Painting Finished


Finally it’s half term!  I admit it – without Lemsip and coffee I wouldn’t have made it.  But we all got there in the end which is really great.  Now I’ve had some rest and some antibiotics I’m back to painting.


I started working on Bonnie’s portrait again.

One of the things I find tricky with oils which I’m going to have to adapt to is the waiting time between layers.  With watercolour I could whizz out my hairdryer and be on to the next stage in minutes, but now it takes a day or so and more if I’m using white (which takes a long time to dry). Normally when I’m painting I  get into the flow of it and the painting then seems to paint itself but now I am forced by the medium to have breaks and stopping and starting that peaceful painting thing that goes on inside me is difficult.  That said, I LOVE OILS – more than enough to find a way to adjust to this difference!  The way they move and blend and work just fits me like a glove.

So, the first thing I did was dump the background I painted last time.  I didn’t like it and I didn’t think it would give the contrast I wanted for my little darling doggie.  I started again with a raw umber wash…


Then when that was dry I sketched my outline onto the canvas…


Next I painted in a deep red blackground because I thought it would contrast and complement Bonnie’s coat really well…


Then there was a bit of wait.  First I was just letting the paint dry and then there was some time when I didn’t want to do anymore.  I just missed her too much to think about it.  There is this hole in my life where she used to be and I would do anything to have her back.

Finally I got back to painting her.  My first job was to just dab in the main colours and shapes not worrying about the detail – just general colours and tones and forms…


Then I added some rough details including some of her fur and her facial features…


Then finally, after a nice omlette for lunch, I finished the details.

Here she is – my lovely beautiful Bonnie…

I miss her so much.


I’m sorry for being away from my blog for so long.  I had a really difficult time a few weekends ago which left me not knowing which way was up.  I’m still really confused by it all.  I think it’s just part of being autistic.  It’s happened in one way or another all my life.  The bottom line is that I just can’t do people – they don’t make sense to me.  So often I think I finally understand the basic pattern of how people work and how to get on nicely with folk and then I do something I think is kind and good and unexpectedly get into awful trouble.  It’s so much worse because I can’t find a way to make it not happen again because I don’t understand the pattern.


Then, sadly, last week my little dog, Bonnie, died.  She had been ill since August with some subtle, and some not so subtle, symptoms which the vets were working hard to treat.  Last Wednesday (27th Sept) we woke to find her out of her mind, pacing in circles, breathing in a horrible horse and panting way and not fully aware of herself or us.  I took her straight to the vets and she had a seizure in the car on the way and then another while the team were trying to get a line in to help her.  The last seizure at the vets was very bad and they weren’t able to wake her up from it so we had to put her to sleep.

It was awful to see her like that and then worse to have to let her go.  Now I find so many moments in my day when I would share a treat with her or say hello to her or sit with her and those moments are just empty.  I know to some people dogs are just an animal, but to me she was my close family and I miss her really badly.  She was the one who helped me when my pain was bad at night, she always wanted a treat and a tummy tickle no matter what time it was.  She was my friend and I never had to worry about my autism with her because she wasn’t bothered by it so long as I loved and cared for her.

We scattered her ashes on Sunday morning in a hole she actually dug herself under a bench near the Common.  She dug it over the period of a year or so when I was able to sit on the bench while she played.  She adored being muddy and making a little nest like that – especially if she’d just been to the groomers.


So, to remember her I’m going to do a painting of her.  My plan is to try it in oils, alla prima (well with primer on first.)

I have quite a few photos of my lovely little girl…

When she first came to us she was shaved all over to get her clean.

Despite her shave she still had a beautiful face!

She went through times of being quite shaggy (which she liked enormously.)


And times of being much tidier (which she tried to bring an end to as soon as possible by rubbing her freshly brushed hair and beard on her bed).


She wasn’t the cleverest little dog.  After ten years of teaching her to lie on her blanket on the bed this is what she would do…


I decided to try painting her based on this photo…


So I made a quick sketch with markers – just to see the main lines.

I wasn’t really aiming for a drawing here so much as a map.

In terms of the colours, because she’s grey and black and white I thought I would prime my canvas with the same shades.  I kind of played around with it when I was priming it, but I almost certainly won’t keep the primer background as I think she will need one or two strong colours behind her to push her beautiful greys to the foreground.

So this is my primed canvas which I now need to get dry before I paint.