Tony, the American Bulldog portrait – take 2

I have never done this before, but as they say, there is a first time for everything.

I took another photo with my Ipad and I think the colours in this photo below are truer to the actual portrait.

So, once again, here is Tony, on 9x12 gallery wrapped canvas, finished sides.  Completed in acrylics.

American Bulldog puppy painted in acrylics on 9x12 gallery wrapped canvas

Puppy portrait – Tony, the American Bulldog

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." ~ Winnie the Pooh.

It gives me much joy and satisfaction to bring each dog I paint to life.  

Tony's expression is so endearing and his pose, leaning against a pillow, tells us that he is a puppy who loves a comfortable, soft spot, preferably close to humans.

No wonder these little bundles of fur "take up the most room in our hearts".

puppy portrait - adding colours

From this point on, I am concentrating on the details.  All colours must be adjusted. The nose and eyes in particular, have to be darker, and I want the blues to be deepened to suggest the creases in his face and ears, and the shading between the front paw and the pillow for example. 

Tony still needs refinement.  By now, I have consulted with Tony's owner several times and sent the progression photos for approval.

puppy portrait - adjusting colours and experimenting

In this photo, I am bringing in the colours from the background into Tony's fur.  I want more of the green to be visible, but I am also adding touches of Naphtol Red Light and Sienna as well as Titan Buff and Titanium White.

final steps in puppy portrait-touching up the blues

There are too many adjustments to show in photographs.  It is a constant push and pull of colours, emphasizing certain colours in areas of the fur while allowing other colours to recede or to be softened depending on what I find pleasing.  

finishing touches for puppy portrait in acrylics

The sides are always painted in a colour to match the portrait.  As the orange pillow in the portrait does take up quite a lot of space, I carried that same colour over to the sides.

Finally, I can step away feeling satisfied.  Tony is done and I like the effect of the greens and blues in his fur.  

For some reason, the pillow is much brighter in this photograph than it is in the painting itself, and although I compared scanning to taking a photograph of the painting, the results remained the same.  The colours are truer to the portrait in the above photo (taken with my Ipad) where you can actually see the folds in the pillow.  

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I am accepting limited commissions up until November, in time for Christmas gift giving (and for enjoying the surprised reactions from your loved ones!).

American bulldog puppy portrait in acrylics

Flower fairy on reclaimed wood – WIP

How to be a flower fairy:

  • Feel the cool morning grass between your toes
  • Fill old jugs with fresh flowers and place them where they can be admired all day
  • Laugh until your belly hurts
  • Look for the rainbow after the storm
  • Admire the colours of the sunset each day
  • Listen for symphonies in nature; birds in the morning, crickets at night, Canada geese flying south in the fall
  • Think poetically; this ______ (unknown or strange object) is like __________ (something common)
  • Be adventurous -let your wings carry you along
  • Face your fears and discover new wonders
  • Be open-minded and accepting
  • Smile and talk to people whose path crosses yours
  • Speak positive thoughts and bury the negative thoughts

Make the world a better place for all!

reclaimed wood painting - a flower fairy

WIP - on reclaimed cedar deck board.

I like the image with the hair flowing up much like the mermaid I painted on reclaimed wood.  A wild girl from the sea painted on old deck board

What do you think?

Or should I paint full figures as in the housewarming gift?  

Reclaimed wood as a unique housewarming gift

How I paint a puppy – Letting go of fear

"Fear is always triggered by creativity because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome and fear hates uncertain outcome.  This is nothing to be ashamed of.  It is, however, something to be dealt with."  ~Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

This first progress report is about that stage where the outcome is uncertain and where doubts and fear typically set in.

In the last two years, I have learned to accept this stage knowing that progress is a more certain outcome than perfection.  It is easier to push through the difficult phases when art is viewed more as a spiral of progressively learned techniques, sometimes through trial and error. Actually, often through trial and error, in my case.  

Each work of art then allows the artist to gain some new knowledge through experimentation when perfection is not the aim of the piece.

If I am honest with you though,  I have to get to the point where I can let the art go and be satisfied. That point of satisfaction is different for everyone.

So those are lessons I have learned since I started my journey as a full-time artist a few years ago.

progress photo - glazing in background

Before beginning to work on the puppy, now named Tony, I continue to apply glazes of different colours to mute the background.  The colour added to the glaze in this photo is green gold by Golden.

more work on background for painted puppy

Another glaze of Napthol Red Light is applied over the green gold.  It was a tad too bright so I used baby wipes to remove a some of the red.

I could have stopped here but I am still in the experimental mode so I decide to try an abstract monoprint over the glazing.

experimenting with abstract monoprinting over acrylic glazing on background

This is a technique I found in Acrylic Solutions by Chris Cozen and Julie Prichard.  It consists of using painted deli wrap to provide a haphazard, random print of a contrasting colour over the glazes. 

For this I used Liquitex Brilliant Yellow Green.  I applied two layers.  The first layer was blended into the background with the acrylic glazing but with the second application much more paint was deposited, again randomly, to create a somewhat abstract background.

I am not sure whether I will keep this background or not; however, there are enough colours in the background that could be brought into the fur to make this an interesting painting.  For now, I leave it as is.  

adding colour to the puppy

Finally, Tony himself is getting some attention.  

I go over the lines left by the Stabilo pencil with Golden's Cerulean blue.  Then I begin adding colours by Golden such as Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, Sienna, and Titanium White to his fur.  

I am far from finished but I have reached that scary stage where I am never sure if I will be able to get the desired results.  Learning to keep going in spite of the uncertainty and the fear is another lesson I have learned along the way.

Remember that with this dog, I want to add more colour into the fur.  But first, I am setting the values, and then I can play around with the more abstract type of effect I want to achieve in the fur.

At this point,  I try very hard to keep that inner critic silent, and remember that I am learning as I continue to work on this puppy.

Reclaimed wood as a unique housewarming gift

When my son and daughter-in-law announced that they had found a home in the country, I began to think of a gift that I might offer them.

Coincidentally, my youngest son is heavily into recycling and had lots of old weathered grey wood planks used for fencing on his farm. As I looked at the reclaimed wood, I wondered if I could paint on them.  I had found a new challenge!

I carefully selected six planks that did not have too many deep cracks and brought them home.  My son tried to convince me that the deep cracks would not be a problem as they would make the art more rustic. Still, I wanted to play it safe, at least initially.

The idea I had was to paint a protectress for the new home.  I sketched my idea on paper and was fairly true to the original drawing I had in mind.  She is shown holding the actual home they bought (collage), and at the bottom of her dress, I have mountains and valleys to represent their rural area, and trees, also collaged.

reclaimed wood housewarming gift - acrylic and collage

Reclaimed wood art.  Acrylic ink and collage.

I had another helper, my granddaughter, base coat the wood before I added the details. I found out that I liked working on a rough surface.

Surprises emerged as I continued to paint.  For example, there is a tiny knot in the shape of a heart that I noticed on her chest. (If you look closely, you can see it in the above photo).  I decided to leave it hidden but it is visible when the light hits that area in a certain way.  I wonder if others will notice it.

reclaimed wood with painted protectress

Here is the finished version with twine and a dried reed heart.  I added little roses to the heart.

Since completing this reclaimed wood project, I have gone on to paint others and I am looking for more wood to keep me busy over  (dare I say the word?) winter.

WIP – How I begin painting a puppy on canvas

This puppy, about 10 weeks old, is saying, "I am too cute; wouldn't you like to cuddle me?"

The minute I was sent these photos, I just had that itch to paint him right away... no matter that I have five or so other projects on the go.  

This is the reason I will never be bored with art.  A new project comes along and really gets me all fired up.  I like having a choice of projects whether it is a mermaid on reclaimed wood, a watercolour portrait, or a furry friend painted on canvas.

Initial sketch of laid back puppy on canvas

As I was sent many digital images of this puppy in different poses, and told to choose any one of them to paint, (I love having that freedom), the first thing I did was to print two of the better photos.

 I chose to work from this image in particular because of his very laid back attitude.  And look at those paws!  He is going to be a big boy!  However, the left side is too dark (see the big black blob that is his eye?) and so I will be using a second photo (see below) taken outdoors, with more accurate colours.

After a light pencil has been used to mark the general shapes, I use a Stabilo Aquarellable pencil to add the lines, some darker and some lighter.  Then, I add water to soften some lines and suggest shading in other areas.   

The blue will disappear under the paint; however, this time, I really want to attempt something different than what I have done before, something more colourful perhaps than the actual portrait, so I might add to the blue and darken it and let it show through.

second reference photo of puppy for painting
Adding huge blocks of colour to dog sketch

At this stage, I have blocked in the pillow and extended the orange to the side of the canvas.  The background is an experiment and will not remain as shown.

 I am considering layers of glaze for the background, or perhaps stamping and stencilling.  It might even end up being collaged or a little of everything I have mentioned.

 The point is that I am never quite sure which techniques I will use on these pets.  My ultimate goal though is to always please the owner.

I will post updates as I work on this adorable puppy.  

Stay tuned!