Chocolate Lab Portrait [Video]— How to Paint a Chocolate Lab

Zann Painting Perlie

Chocolate Lab Painting in Oil

This chocolate lab portrait is a larger piece, featuring a delightful named Perlie. I was lucky enough to meet Perlie while delivering her portrait, and she might have been the SOFTEST chocolate lab I’ve ever felt. I don’t know what they’re feeding her but her fur is silk. 

Hopefully some of that cuddliness came through in the final portrait, because her smile sure did!

View Zann’s Pet Painting Gallery Here

If you’ve ever wondered how to paint a chocolate lab, you’re in the right place. Check out the video below or read on for more.

In all my portraits, I start with large, loose brushstrokes and work toward small brushes and controlled strokes. You can see how this plays out in the above video, where the initial sketching gets all the big forms in but only takes a small fraction of the total painting time.

I started filming my painting process to learn from it, because I want to be the best pet portrait artist out there, but it’s nice to be able to show others how I work too!

Oil Painting Process

You can see the whole process I go through in oils, from a rough sketch through an underpainting through the final details. In this case, my palette was limited to warm browns (burnt umber, burnt sienna) and the cool blues came from Payne’s Grey.

As a portrait, the focus in this chocolate lab painting is the subject, Perlie, so I’ve kept the background simple. Furthermore, the background contrasts Perlie’s dark brown fur in both tone and value, so she seems to jump forward from the canvas.

Chocolate Lab Painting

Dark-furred dogs don’t have to go on light backgorunds, however!

In the example below, you can see how this black lab painting works great on dark blue, with just a little rim lighting to show where the subject ends.

Other Background Options

Black Dog portrait painting in oil

Labs are great dogs for experimenting with lighting in paintings because they’re always one colour 🙂

If you’re interested in getting your own painting of a lab or other pet, you can learn more here.

I also post painting process videos on the Paws By Zann Facebook Page and YouTube channel.

See you next time.


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Zann Hemphill

Zann Hemphill is a practising pet portrait artist, writer, and video producer.

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