I have plenty of doodles in the works, but I thought I would go back to an actual, real-life painting I did several years ago of a beloved doggy. My friend, who owns Gannon Grooming, lost her best puppy buddy, and I wanted to give her something to remember him by. Before I started doodling in my free time, my natural media was acrylic paints, which I used for this precious Cocker Spaniel. I took several photos to illustrate the process my painting go through.
1. Initial sketch (Not pictured. Use your imagination if you so desire)
2.Laying the Color Foundation
When I begin a painting, I like to lay down the first wash of colors for as much of the painting as possible, then go in later with darker or lighter colors, in some cases adding a dozen or more washes before the painting is complete. As you can see in this snapshot, the colors are muted and lots of canvas is showing through.
Early stages in my painting style
3. Adding Rough Darks
Here it is easier to see the brush strokes, especially in the fur under the chinny chin chin. I believe I was concentrating mainly on the nose and tongue, which is why they look more finished and life-like.
With my style, I like to lay darks, then use slight washes of near transparent creams or whites to scale back for the right hue.
4. The Creepy Phase
There is always a point in a portrait that looks a little weirder than it should. This is that phase. I also have added some richness to the shadows if you can get past the empty eyes.
The longest part of a painting for me is working on the details, which makes sense. Sometimes, the details are overwhelming. My mom can certainly attest to this since she still has a half-finished painting that I never got around to completing in her basement. It is complete enough to get the general idea of what it is, but the details were so subtle that I just couldn’t work on it any more. (Sorry mom! I’ll repaint it soon!). To me, the most important details are the eyes and expression. I could have left the painting like this I think, but that’s not my style.
Phew, no more soulless eyes. I love working on the eyes, since it makes the work come alive.
6. Knowing When to Stop
It is important for me to accept that no work of art is going to be perfect. It can approach perfection, but not knowing when to stop will only lead me down a trail of misery and tears. There will always be something that I can look back and see that I Should have done differently, but as an old Vulcan Proverb says, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”
Happy Guy! Baxter makes a handsome pup.
Every dog story ends in tears, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the unconditional love of the best friend you will ever have! Adopt from a local shelter or go give your canine companion a big hug and some peanut butter. If you would like to see more posts like this, let me know in the comments!