Dog Paintings

Premonition, 12″ x 12″, oil on canvas, framed- $350 © Robin Phillips Studio

Can I tell you how much I love dogs…. 😉  My animal family is a big part of my life, so recently I had the wonderful opportunity of joining a local dog-themed art show, “Dog Park” curated by well-known local artists Fred Swan and Stan Peterson. Each piece in the show honors the way in which dogs have touched our hearts and enriched our lives. If you’re in the Portland area, do stop by! The show features 30+ artists and runs February 25 – March 21 at Ford Gallery. All pieces are for sale, contact either me or the gallery for more information. See pictures from opening night on RPS Facebook and the event page below…

Full event details:

Bliss, 12″ x 12″, oil on canvas, framed- $250 © Robin Phillips Studio

I had so much fun with these pieces based on my german shepherd Kiva and black lab/catahoula mix Phantom. Here’s the full story behind them and a peek into my process…


closeup of Premonition, © Robin Phillips Studio


Kiva is a purebred German Shepherd and never fails to show me how exceedingly smart she is 😉
This piece tells the story of how something is always going on in her thoughtful head- she watches out for us constantly. Nothing escapes Kiva’s watchful eye. Of course, she’s always the first one in line for dinner or biscuits. Some of her best moments I will never forget. One time she alerted me to the fact that the neighbor’s dog was injured and stuck was on their fence. If she senses I have trouble with my diabetes she watches me and comes up to sniff my face. What would I do without her?

closeup of Bliss, © Robin Phillips Studio


Every year we take our dogs to the coast and they run in play in the ocean so gleefully. This piece celebrates this moment of pure bliss. Just watching them makes me feel profoundly happy and at peace. Dogs have so much to teach us. Is anything more joyful than happy, carefree dogs?


In the studio, I started with pencil drawings and then light washes in oil. I used photos of my dogs for reference, and also sketched them in pencil on paper for practice first. Lately, I like to use Holbein Aqua Oils, which I would describe as a cross between acrylic and oil. The pigment quality is very high, yet they thin with water and work really well for the the first wash of color. I’m also playing around using them underneath Gamblin oils, a popular professional oil, for my larger pieces. On these pieces though I only used the Holbein oil.

Iko cat came to help for a bit… or perhaps to remind me he would like some attention too (usually my brushes are out of his reach 😉  

Then with increasingly thicker layers of oil, I began to add more layers of color. Typically, I will build up the surface with at least 2-3 more layers of undertones for a deeper depth of color.  Finally the details go in- shadows and highlights in the eye, hair lines, etc. I often use 20/0 or 5/0 hairline brushes for fine work like this.  

For the sand and the background landscape, I muted the tones and added less detail so that it did not distract from the focal point- the dogs. The sandscape is painted with deepening tones and shadow on the right to further emphasize depth.  






See more of my works in progress and my animal family antics on Instagram at @robinphillipsstudio and #petsinthestudio
And last but not least, I would love to paint your special animal friend(s)! If you like my work and are interested in a custom painting, let’s connect.  🙂