Friday, 26 May 2017

The Stretch

An old friend, this painting - I am re-posting it in recognition of how hot it is at the moment. We are not used to this in Devon, being more accustomed to drizzle and mirk.

I have been busy working on a commission this week and have not had time to paint a daily painting. Here is a quick peek at the commission, although the client hasn't signed it off yet. So, I'll just post it small ... in fact it is quite big (for me) at 16" x 12"

I also worked on some air-dry clay models over the last few weeks. A couple made it to some sort of completion. A more ambitious one has ended up in the bin. Here are the two I am not going to throw away. They are models of dogs belonging to my friends.

I painted them with acrylics and varnished them. They are mounted on to a couple of timber slices that I bought off e-Bay, which were sold as "rustic canapĂ© serving dishes" and cost £5. If I had bought something similar listed as a plinth for models it would have been £40! 
The models themselves are a bit 'rustic', frankly, but everyone has to start somewhere. I am trying to learn a bit more about air dry clay. I have had terrible problems with it cracking. I would love to use the real thing, but that requires a kiln which is not an option at present.

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Benjamin Bulldog

bull dog oil painting
I must admit Benjamin Bulldog is looking like I feel at the end of a long and busy week. 
Painted in one sitting on linen, resisting the urge to over-work and trying to be comfortable with ambiguity - specifically, all those dark, shadowy pools. You do not have to paint every hair in order to say "bull-dog". At least, I hope you don't.

Have a lovely weekend and I hope the sun shines where you are.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Two White Poodles

Oil painting on linen of Two White Poodles

Four years ago, when I had just started out with oil painting and painting full-time, the first dogs I was asked to paint were a pair of white poodles. I nearly had a breakdown over the job. It has got better with practise I am happy to say.
Here are my hard-won tips for painting fluffy white dogs (also work for fluffy white cats):

  • punch up the contrast in the reference photo as much as you possibly can, so that any shadows at all in the fur are exaggerated 
  • Start off on a mid-toned canvas. This one is clear-primed linen. If it had been white-primed linen, I would have painted it first -and let that dry - a colour like this
  • Paint the darks first. Here is where I was after first starting:

work-in-progress poodle painting

  • Postpone adding white paint as long as you possibly can and if you must use white, make sure it is not tube-white: I use Michael Harding's Warm White or else mix in some of the shadow colours. The shadow colours here were Raw Umber, French Yellow Ochre and Lamp Black.
  • Distinguishing between fur shadows in the light and fur shadows in the shade also seems to help. On these dogs, you can see that the shadows in the body colour of the left hand one are warmer than the shadows in the right hand one.
  • If it's not looking right, make the darks darker don't immediately try to make the lights lighter. 

If nothing works than wipe it off, take a break, have a large coffee and some chocolate and start again. White poodles and fluffy cats are both subjects that seem to benefit from regular breaks and chocolate.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Grey Cat

oil painting of a long-haired grey cat
A beautiful long-haired cat painted in a palette of Prussian Green, Burnt Umber, Warm White (Gamblin) and Portrait Pink.With a dab of blue for his eyes. 
Once the painting was dry, I went back in to the shading on his coat - in order to "thicken up" the fur a bit more. I dry-brushed on a grey mixed from the blue of his eyes, the pink of his ears and the green from the background. I felt it made all the difference and pulled the painting together.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Watcher

The Watcher - an oil painting of a ginger cat in a window
This cat, watching from his vantage point in an abandoned building, appealed to me because of the contrasts: organic vs man-made, blue vs orange, dereliction vs life. It is also very typical of a cat, I thought, to find himself a nice discrete spot from which to survey the world. 
Painted on canvas board using an acrylic colour block-in as an underpainting, then in oils using a palette knife (except for the cat). My colours were limited to  blue, orange, black and white. You can make a lovely selection of greys from these colours. There was also a speck of lemon for the cat's eyes and a speck of alizarin (plus white) for his ears.

Friday, 21 April 2017


oil painting of Hound dog on a red cushion

A rare moment of contemplation for this hound dog, reclining in splendour on her red sofa. Warm shadows and cool light on the form of the dog. I enjoyed painting the curve of her body, pretending I was stroking her back as I applied the paint.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Bring Me Sunshine (2) and Happy Easter

painting of hound dog in play bow

Happy Easter! Here is a bonus painting for this weekend. I have been on a bit of a roll for the last week and completed 5 paintings. This one is on A4 MDF board - I bought a multi-pack from a new supplier on eBay and I am very pleased with it. I have gesso'd it myself with 3 coats of acrylic gesso.

Here are the two work-in-progress shots I remembered to take:
work-in-progress hound dog painting

The one on the top is the first stage: a rough drawing of the main features, position etc. Then I did a colour block-in. I am using watery acrylic paint for this: black, ultramarine, quinacridone nickel azo gold, burnt umber and sap green.

Once this was dry I started tidying up and adding a bit more detail. I used cadmium green pale and portrait pink to see if those colours would capture bright sunshine and concluded they did. I am still using acrylics at this point.

Once this had dried I switched to oil paint. For the sunshine I used lemon yellow, transparent oxide red, cadmium green light and a particularly virulent portrait pink from Daler Rowney, as well as white. For the shadows I used burnt umber, dioxine purple and ultramarine blue but pretty thin: lots of liquin.

Hope you like my playful dog -  have a playful Easter weekend yourselves. Thank you for looking at my paintings.