• Pascale Vanbutsele

When your very first client comes back for more

Updated: Jul 15

Early 2019, I had only started making pastel paintings since a few months, this kind lady from Italy contacted me asking if I would like to portray her beautiful Malinois Nala. My first commission! You can imagine my joy and excitement. And she loved it! So much so, that a few weeks ago she contacted me again: "Could you do a double portrait of Nala and her son Gunny?"


Easel with line drawing and pastel pencils next to it
Ready to start putting the colour in

Changing the background colour

My first observations of the reference picture were that the expression on both dogs was just fabulous. These are the kind of Malinois I love and have grown up with, friendly, social, cheeky sometimes, the best friend you could wish for. I decided to make the dogs stand out more by changing the colour of the wooden panels from a creamy yellow to a soft blue, since blue is the complimentary colour of the orange tones in the fur. Also the bench on which Nala is lying will have more blue tones than brown. This makes a nice little bit of contrast between cool and warm tones.


Pastel painting in progress on a table easel
Gunny is taking shape

A myriad of colours

When looking at Gunny, you wouldn't think it, but there are many colours in that fur coat and reflecting from his face. I have used many shades of pink, purple, lilac, blue, orange, brown and yellow besides the obvious greys and black. I noted all the colours I used on a piece of leftover dark grey Pastelmat.

Flowing from the pencils

I don't know why but these two dogs seemed to flow right out my pencils. Is it because I grew up with Malinois and had two of my own, so I know them not only from seeing but also from touching and feeling. Or is it just because with each painting I make I gain experience? Probably a mixture of the two. I enjoyed it so much to portray them that time flew and before I knew it, I was at the finishing line.



Keeping the client informed during the process

During the two weeks I worked on the pastel painting, I regularly kept the client informed of the progress via social media with time lapse videos and pictures. She was loving it and couldn't wait to hold the artwork in her hands. Today, as I am writing this, the parcel is ready to be picked by the express courier service. It will be delivered in Italy tomorrow.


The finished portrait

Pastel painting of two Malinois called Gunny and Nala
Finished portrait of Gunny and Nala, two Malinois

Saying goodbye

Finishing an artwork is like saying goodbye. I take my time to do that by adjusting a pencil stroke left and right. Verifying with squinting eyes that the proportions and values are right. Sleeping on it and checking again.


After having spent over 20 hours bringing Gunny and Nala to life, our time together is over. Before I put my signature on the painting I want to make sure that everyone will be happy with the result and that I have done everything within my skillset, before I hand the artwork over. It is a sad and joyous moment at the same time. I am content with the result and yet tears come to my eyes. I always work from the heART.


A very happy customer

Facebook reaction from client
Facebook reaction from a very happy client


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