Thursday, 23 February 2017

German Shepherd

oil painting, portrait of a German Shepherd
A beautiful German Shepherd, looking pensive. I painted it to try and maximise his thoughtfulness as well as his quiet dignity. 
Painted in one sitting with a No 4 Ivory flat and a palette of Transparent Oxide Red, black and white. A touch of Alizarin Crimson to achieve the cooler pink notes in his ears.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Sleepy head

an oil painting of a sleeping basset hound

Here is an oil painting of a sleeping basset hound pup, completed in one sitting using a large flat, bristle brush.

For no particular reason, I began with the left closed eye (his right) and worked outwards, but completing the left side first because I am right handed. As with my two previous low-key square portraits, I blocked in the black background first using acrylic paint, but this was later re-painted in oils. Here we are after one hour's work on the face:

work-in-progress photo of oil painting

The rest of the painting took about 3 hours. Getting that squidgey little face on the outstretched paw correct was quite tricky, as was the perspective on his paw.

I think he looks like a sweetie, but possibly nearly as tired as me after this busy week. Have a great weekend everyone and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Pointer portrait

Portrait of a pointer, an oil painting
Well, I think he is a pointer - he might have a bit of something else in the genes. He is only just emerging from the black paint, as you can see.
In answer to a question in the comments on the last-but-one painting of a Blue Heeler, I begin by marking out a few lines with whatever is to hand - often, a pastel pencil. In the case of dog portraits, I only need to make sure the eyes and nose are correctly positioned. The more complicated the painting, the more lines I need.
Then, in the case of these dark paintings, I brush in the background in black acrylic paint, because it dries quickly. It is difficult to get the values right if I don't put in the darkest darks. Looks like this:
pointer portrait - work in progress

Then, I paint everything except the whiskers in one pass. I always begin with the eyes and work outwards, like so:
pointer portrait - work in progress

Occasionally, I might come back in and put an extra layer of fur when the first pass has dried, but not in this case because he is a smooth-coated dog and it wasn't necessary. I re-work the background in oils at the same time as painting the parts of the dog that are adjacent. 
Whiskers and signature will follow next day or whenever the paint has dried. This is so I can wipe the whiskers off if needs be without ruining the work - blobby whiskers are obviously not a good look.
In response to the specific question about whether I use Raw Umber to do the underpainting, the answer is not on small, daily paintings like this one. For larger paintings with more difficult compositions, then yes. Any piece where I might get in a muddle with the values, basically.
Thank you for looking at my paintings and have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Bald Eagle - disconcerted

oil painting, Head studies of an American bald eagle

Something a bit different for you today. I have enjoyed painting these head studies. I worked hard to maintain loose brushwork. 
If bits started to get muddy or over-fussed, I wiped the area off and started again. I like working on board for that reason - it makes starting again much easier.
I used a No 4 flat bristle for the entire thing apart from the eyes, those little line thingies on the beaks and my signature. This is way bigger than I normally use for detail e.g. the tongue of the right-hand bird. 
For that, I just used the corner of the brush and blobbed paint on, pointillist style, of the right colour and value until it looked right.
The other technique I tried, to achieve the illusion of feathers, was to wait for the paint to semi-tack up and then drag the brush at an angle and - well - feathered it.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Blue Heeler

oil painting of a blue heeler, pet portrait
This is a lovely Blue Heeler - a breed from Australia originally, which was created by breeding herding dogs with domesticated dingoes. 
It was painted in two passes. I put the background in with straight, black acrylic paint and also used splurges of black acrylic to indicate the nose and edges of the ears. Once this was thoroughly dry,  I worked the eyes and the yellow ochre fur. 
He looked distinctly odd at this point, but I let the paint tack up for 3 or 4 hours whilst I started on a separate painting. Then the rest of him was completed using black, ultramarine and white. 
To achieve the 'speckled' effect, particularly on his muzzle, it is important to apply the lightest possible brush pressure. Any accidental mixing -  creating a very unconvincing sky-blue colour in the case of this dog - needs wiping off with cotton buds before re-applying.
I have learnt the hard way that when overlaying light fur on to dark fur, any over-zealousness with the brush cannot be corrected: the mistake must be wiped off and re-painted.