Thursday, 25 June 2015

Santa's Little Helper

Santa's Little Helper, oil painting of a greyhound, pet portrait by karen
When I chose to paint this dog, it was because he reminded me of Homer Simpson's dog, who I had remembered as being white. However, Santa's Little Helper is, of course, bright orange. 
The challenge then was how to represent him as an actual real-life dog: I have never painted a brindle coat before with large amounts of Cadmium Orange!

Cartoon dogs - cartoon anything - normally have very defined outlines, usually black. I needed a defined outline but I needed my version to look like a real dog and not a cartoon. Having him looming out of a dark background was my solution. 

I used transparent oxide brown around the actual dog and brought the black from the sides of the painting in towards the dog, carefully blending it into the brown. I used this method as a means of keeping the black away from any direct contact with the orange paint. I have remarked before how orange and black only seem to need to look at each other across a crowded tube in order to make cow pat brown.

The palette was brown, orange, black and white. The reasons I am using these limited palettes more and more are:

  • I have discovered that this is what Rubens did: he used far fewer colours than you might expect on individual paintings. Readers of my other blog will know I am presently in love with Rubens.
  • It makes it easier to create a painting which is coherent and harmonious
  • There are fewer decisions to be made in the painting process - you've got what you've got on the palette so it reduces "faffing about"
  • The painting will hopefully look like a painting and not like a poor colour photocopy of a photo
  • It is more fun
  • It wastes less paint