Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sneak peaks behind Sam's Portrait

I'm currently working on 3 small acrylic paintings that are to remain anonymous for an auction, so I can't share them with you. 

Instead, I decided to show you a couple of sneak peaks behind the scene with Sam's portrait, the gorgeous English Cocker Spaniel.

So hear we have his sweet, smiling original photo I took the day of his photo shoot.

Next, I like to crop it and under image - mode, and change it to gray-scale
in Photoshop Elements.

Then under Filter- Artistic, I choose Cutout.  I make sure it's the highest number of levels (8), Lowest Edge Simplicity (0) and the Highest Edge Fidelity (3).

This gives me the above image that averages out the 8 levels of values and creates average-value shapes.  I found out this little trick a couple of years ago which makes painting that much simpler.  Of course, I rely on my eye and choose to change some values for composition, so this is more of a tool than a hard and fast rule.

Here is my messy easel, showing an assortment of pastels I'm using and pastel pencils.  I also make a color copy enlargement of my photo and am faithful to it for drawing and proportions....I'll play with color tho and and change backgrounds. 

The paper for Sam is UArt Acid Free Sanded Pastel Boards -  400 grade.  It also comes in 500, 600 and 800 grades.  (click on the link to learn more)

I really like the 400 very much like Wallis Paper and worked well with Sam.

Here is a shot of me starting work on his left side.  When I'm working, I just pick out the colors I want and keep them handy on the tray underneath so I can repeat the same colors for unity.

Here's the final "Sam" that you originally saw in the last post.  I hope you enjoyed my process and might try some of the papers here.

Thanks for following my blog :)



  1. Beautiful portrait. It is always fun to see another artist's process.

    I use Photoshop in a similar way, usually printing both a color and a value image for reference. I find that printing on glossy photo paper provides the most accurate reference images. How do you do your initial drawing? It looks very accurate! I grid a reference photo, proportionally enlarge the grid on my painting surface, and then draw by observation (not tracing or graphite transfer).

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I do a charcoal tracing of the perimeter of the main shape and eyes/nose and move it around for placement on the page. I used to grid, but the grid lines will show through if not completely erased and this saves me time and trouble. When I paint I think more of shapes than line, blurred edges, value and color so the initial placement tracing is only a starting point guide. Hope that helps!

  3. Beautiful, Kim and thanks for sharing the process.