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 :)


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Behind the Scenes with Jeb

Jeb's original photo

Thought I'd share with you some photos I took during the process of Jeb's portrait.

First, I schedule a photo shoot with his "Mom"; I download the photos to my laptop, and we select the one for his portrait then and there.

Then, I choose a paper.  I chose this Richeson board because I thought it went well with his ears :)  Then I sketch him out in charcoal and begin the all important eyes.  If the eyes aren't right, nothing else matters in a portrait, in my humble opinion. :)

I start playing with colors now....trying on different values and intensities...I really kinda like it loose like this and might stay with this look, but clients like a finished portrait!

Here is a deciding place about the background...I wanted it darker to contrast with his light fur, and cooler to bring out his warmth.  Not too blue as the white is cool already so I kept with purples....when in doubt, purple is always your friend!  And fitting for a King Cavalier Spaniel!

As you've seen before....the finished portrait...I mixed blue and purple as blue compliments the orange in his ears and purple for more interest.

Thanks for reading my blog.



Friday, January 20, 2012

"Jeb"...a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel Commission

"Jeb", 11"x14", pastel, sold

When taking photos of dogs during a photo shoot, I like to play with them, get them to chase a ball or maybe play with their favorite toys to warm them up and connect.  Not Jeb.  He's as serious as he looks here.  Just eight years old, the same as my Bichon Summer, who still usually jumps at the chance to have someone play ball with her.

Jeb is so beautiful and photogenic that we had several pictures to choose from.  His "Mom" liked this one, and I did too.  This really shows his serious, pensive nature.

I painted him on Jack Richeson's Unison Premium Pastel Hardboard...a different surface for me, because it was toned a color that matched his ears really well.  I wound up covering up most of the surface as I went along, preferring a dark cool background to contrast his warm ears.

The board was grittier than I liked, making it harder for me to get the fine details of his soft hair, so I found myself fighting the surface. I think it's better for a looser landscape than the detailed, realistic portraits I enjoy.

All in all, I'm happy with my portrait of Jeb.

Thanks for reading my blog. 

(Check me out on my facebook page and website for more info on portraits)

Friday, January 13, 2012


"Sam", pastel, 11"x14"

What a sweetie Sam is!  He's a pure breed Cocker Spaniel, looking a bit like my "Rusty", a beloved Springer Spaniel I had growing up that I love dearly to this day.

At his photo shoot, he was perfect.  Full of life, greeting me like a life-long friend, he posed every which way we asked him...leading his nose and eyes with a promised dog biscuit.  It wasn't until we were almost done that he relaxed and looked at me with the expression above.

I just love Sam.

Thanks for reading my blog :)


Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Moonlit Geese have flown!

"Moonlit Geese", 8"x16", oil on wraparound canvas

One cool evening while I was taking a photography class @ 2 years ago, we had a field trip to a private local animal shelter.  The owner was trying to coax her geese into another pasture with the cool evening light dancing on their snow white feathers.  I snapped a few photos and painted this piece for myself in oil on a 8"x16" wraparound canvas.

This morning I sold this piece to a lovely lady who had admired it a few weeks ago on the Studio Tour.  She appreciated it so much that I was happy to send it off to a good home :)

In my spare time I'd like to play more with my oil paints, but pastel will always be my first love.

Thanks for reading my blog :)