The Cockapoo Challenge

Rufus Dog Pet Portrait Watercolor

So I was challenged by a former Guest Doodlewasher, Sarah Smalldon in the UK yesterday. After viewing the ever fabulous Jean Pierre Caniche, she liked my new poodlewash skills and challenged me to doodlewash her cockapoo, Rufus. I, in turn, challenged her to draw our basenji, Phineas. Apparently it’s also National Dog Day today so I guess it was the perfect challenge.

I think I should have quit while I was ahead because drawing fluff is super hard! I’m not a big fan of soft lines as many of you know. I had no idea how to draw Rufus and I’m not sure I did him justice with this sketch. First I couldn’t change him to pink as I’d done before so I stuck with just Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine Blue. I ended with some wisps of white gouache because he looked like some bizarre body builder with skin condition before adding a little more hair on top. Actually, I think he still might look a bit like that, but trust me, this is much better!

I was given the cutest ball of fur I’ve ever seen in the form or Rufus and I couldn’t even see any lines. Rufus was like a begging ball of cotton candy, and so damn cute it was actually distracting to sketch. So I started with just the eyes and the nose, figuring somehow the rest would manage to emerge. Though I struggled with the body, I think the face is still there at least.

Phineas by Sarah SmalldonMeanwhile over in the Plymouth, Devon, UK, Sarah had whipped out this awesome sketch of our dog before I even started, so the bar was certainly raised. I’m so impressed by her sketching. The limited lines, and slight abstractions. Her doodlewash is awesome! And I love it! Though I’m going to declare her the winner of this particular challenge,  I like to think it was simply because she was given a short-haired dog to sketch and could actually see his feet.

At any rate, it was fun to swap dogs across the pond in honor of National Dog Day and try sketching something new. Sketching other people’s dogs is like sketching other people’s baby’s though, so even if you like your sketch, odds are good it might still upset the recipient. Tread with care.

I hope Sarah enjoys my little cockapoo concoction and be sure to check out her Instagram to see the real Rufus in all his actual cuteness. We agreed this little challenge was tough, so next we’ll have to go back to architecture and sketch each other’s houses instead. Hopefully she lives in a castle. I can sketch those.

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in By Charlie, Featured Artists
  1. Snehal Kank 7 years ago

    He is so cute! So Perfect with limited color pallet !

  2. tracyaanderson 7 years ago

    I think you did a great job on Rufus. Fluff is definitely hard to paint. I have a Cockapoo and you seemed to catch the characteristics of the breed well. Nice job!

    • Author

      Aw thanks Tracy!! Cool! I was completely unfamiliar with the breed as well as the fluff, so your comment means a lot to me! Thanks!

  3. Eric Disney 7 years ago

    Love seeing your work evolve–and your enthusiasm is contagious…there is nothing better than crafting a story with lines and paint–and maybe a word or two now and then! 🙂

    • Author

      Thank you so much Eric!! Glad you see it evolving…I just keep trying anything and everything so I’m not sure what’s happening. But it sure is FUN!! Thanks for looking and reading friend! 🙂

  4. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    Wow! I love both your and Sarah’s pieces! Totally different styles that manage to capture each dog’s uniqueness and personality. I would never have known you didn’t like soft lines. 🙂

  5. S. A. Smith, Author 7 years ago


  6. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    Both sketches are lovely, a successful challenge all around. Rufus looks soft and cuddly, (I want to give him a biscuit) and Phineas looks ready for action with those perky ears and alert eyes, (I want to give him a biscuit too).

    • Author

      Thanks Haunani!! Phineas is either ready for action and constantly moving or suddenly narcoleptic and sound asleep. He’s a bit crazy, but lovable. Haven’t met Rufus in person yet, but sure he’s just lovable. They both accept your biscuits and return wet kisses!

  7. Jodi 7 years ago

    adorable – both! 🙂

  8. Jill Kuhn 7 years ago

    Love your humor! I think you really captured the personality in Rufus! I also like the other sketch of Phineas – so cool! 😊🐶🌟

    • Author

      Awww thanks Jill! Lovely of you to say! Rufus and Phineas would be best friends I’m sure if they lived closer and didn’t have to swim an ocean to visit. Finn hates water.

  9. amaryllislog 7 years ago

    Both pups are charming! I think you captured Rufus perfectly, he holds together so nicely and his eyes and nose! Lovely!

    • Author

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate that as I was sort of lost in all that cute fluff. Glad you think it worked! Hope Rufus agrees. Finn loves his!

  10. Lemon 7 years ago

    I think they both look great!

    • Author

      Thank you Nancy!! Rufus and Phineas are good models. But don’t ever tell them that as it will only go to their heads. 😉

  11. You did a great job with Rufus! I think it’s amazing. Well done!

    • Author

      Thanks Laura!! It was sort of stressful drawing someone else’s baby! Lol Luckily it was hit with Sarah’s household as hers was a hit with mine. Not only did Phineas love staring at his portrait, this morning he kept climbing up on a chair to look at Rufus. Probably just comparing to ensure his portrait was indeed better. 😉

  12. memadtwo 7 years ago

    I like the way you solved the problem of the fur…and yes, wonderful face on Rufus. A fun bonus of the challenge is to see the different ways both of you captured dogginess. Happy Dog Day!…in the dog days of summer, I guess that’s why this date was chosen…(?) (K.)

    • Author

      Thanks Kerfe! Super glad you like my fur solution as it scared the hell out of me. Lol And I have no idea how they decide on these days! Would be a fun job, like naming colors.

  13. […] is the second time I’ve doodlewashed something on Arches paper (broke it in with a Cockapoo). I’ve heard many watercolorists talk about it, and so I wanted to give it a try. […]

  14. […] this blog for awhile, you might remember that Sarah and I drew each other’s dogs awhile back (Cockapoo Challenge), so we thought we’d try each other’s houses next. And it was much more difficult than […]

  15. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    “He’s so FLUFFFFY, I could die!” Sorry, couldn’t resist quoting the line from Minions (I forget which one-#1,#3, #15?) when I saw your painting of Rufous! You did him cute!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 years ago

      Hehe!!! Thanks!!! Yeah… fluffy is challenging in watercolor! Glad you liked him! 😃

  16. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    I love the long hair on the ears.

  17. […] is the second time I’ve doodlewashed something on Arches paper (broke it in with a Cockapoo). I’ve heard many watercolorists talk about it, and so I wanted to give it a try. […]

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