Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More about pet portraits

November 20, 2013

Steps for painting a pet portrait

Yesterday our class topic was painting pet portraits.  I am so proud of their paintings.  This was the first time they painted animals.  Great job!

They did such good drawings.  We were just about the start Step 2.

Step 1 - The Drawing - covered in the last blog, but can be summed up in one word:  MEASURE

Step 2 - Color Mixing -  even though most dogs and cats are shades of brown, black and/or white, there is a lot of color mixing going on for these paintings.

My approach:

 mix several values of the general hue

mix two temperatures of each value

then depending on the value of the dog I create four more piles of paint to have on my palette of red, yellow and blue plus one pile of the complement of the pet's color mixed with white.  If the dog is a dark color you would use darker values of RYB. 

The colors on bottom left  are for a brown dog (the photo on my monitor make the lightest value look too orange.)  The white demonstrates the brushwork, pulling the brush to the outside. 

 The reason I have the RYB and complement available is to be sure to include variety in the fur color.  For each brushstroke, I mix a little of  one of those piles, otherwise the fur looks flat. 

For example,   on the light side of a white pet,  not only would I consider the temperature, but also include some variety with RYB and the complement.

You can see some of this going on in the photos especially in the last blog's photos. 

BRUSHWORK -  to create the look of fur brush from the inside of the form to the outside leaving soft edges and letting the brushstrokes show creating the look of fur.

Last bit of advice:  maintain the darks even in a white pet.  Beyond light, middle and dark, keep the dark accent color and there may even be a fifth value for a highlight.


Here's where having a good photo is important.  I have done commissions where the photos given to me had "red eyes".

-show transparency in the eye by using a lighter color on the bottom of the iris and include a little shadow under the eyelid plus add a highlight at the end.

Bottom of the eye shows transparency of the eye and shadow under the lid

Monday, November 18, 2013

Painting the same subject more than once.

November 18, 2013 - "under every good painting is a good abstract painting".  I have heard and read this many times. 

Doing the same subject in different ways is another piece of advice from teachers I have had.

The idea for the first boat painting came from a landscape class I took when the teacher talked about how the abstract shapes pull the design together.  The DVD by Quang Ho really emphasizes the importance of shapes in a painting.  

I was looking at one of my older paintings based on abstract shapes and thought why not try it with the emphasis of color since I love color.  Here is my experiment. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pet Portraits

I've really gotten into doing pet portraits again.  They are such good subjects, all different shapes and sizes.  Also, I've been working on my drawing skills and this helps. 

Yesterday's post included the sketch of a black lab.   I finished the final one and here it is. 

The secret to doing a pet portrait is MEASURE MEASURE MEASURE. 

-the distance between the eyes
-the distance from the eyes to the top of the nose
-the size of the head
and more

-use horizontal and verticals to line up the eyes, nose and ears


I do a pencil drawing first, sometimes a watercolor, then a sketch in oils and the final painting.  If the measurements are wrong, sometimes two sketches. 

(in case you want to start painting your pets, I'll put my sketches and drawings at LibertyTown Arts Workshop on the wall by my easel and you can see the steps.)    

 I toned the canvas with lots of bright colors and let some of it show through. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dog Portraits

I've been working on some dog paintings lately.  One is a sketch that needs a lot more work, one a finished portrait and the third is a small painting of my dog, Ziva.  I've done so many of her, but I like this one the best. 


sketch, still working out lights, drawing needs work, ways to go on this one

Monday, November 11, 2013


Challenge Exercise from Daily Paintworks

The challenge by Carol Marine was definitely worth doing.  To get the 4 studies done allowing 10 minutes each made me pace myself and keep to the basics.  I like the last one the best.  Here's the link all the entries including my own.  LINK TO CHALLENGE - yesterday's painting of pear. 

I  put all the exercises/lessons so far on the pinterest board "Learn to Paint".  They are all on the blog, but with pinterest at least they are organized in one place.  (link on sidebar)

24 x 30

Just to include a photo - recent painting experimenting mostly with edges and going for abstract shapes.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013


November 10, 2013

I was looking at Daily Paintworks this am and thought I would check out the latest "Challenge".  I try to do these as often as I can.  It looks like such a good way to practice doing big brush strokes and getting them in the right place.  Here is the link: CHALLENGE  I'll post mine tomorrow. 

(This photo was taken with my husband's camera, Cannon Eos,30D. I had to read the book to learn how to use it because it is so complicated. Does it look any better than usual?  Plus I used the color adjustment on picassa for more accurate color. 

 Here are a few of the painting I put on ETSY.  So far I only have 10 or 11.

  As soon as I get to 25, then I will mention it in my newsletter and include a coupon.  If you want the coupon code it will be "THANKU25" (25% discount).  I'll go ahead and activate it.  Two sold, but I thought there would be more activity with "Views".   I think maybe you have to advertise within ETSY.  Maybe in December I will try doing that.     With Daily Paintworks, ETSY, Pinterest, and FACEBOOK I am at my limit of things to track.  Painting is what I like to do best so beyond this it would definitely interfere with time to paint.   If you are going to start a business, I think FACEBOOK is a good way to start, then try Daily Paintworks.  It is an education  and inspiration to look at the work of so many talented artists on that site and a great motivator to paint as much as you can. 

I finally figured out how to link DPW to ETSY.  It took me a week.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Experimenting with Temperature

# 11 Temperature

This is an exercise I did with my students to demonstrate how temperature, the use of warm colors and cool colors is a big part of painting. 

We painted the same  subject using cool and warm colors in as many ways as we could think of doing. 

Even the backgrounds played a part in the examples.  Which one do you like the best?  Look for the example of warm light, warm shadow and even warm background.  There is a lot of personal preference, the subjectivity of art, but thinking about how temperature plays into a painting is what this exercise is all about. 

Which one is cool light, cool shadow?

Which one is predominantly warm in light with a touch of cool?     Cool in shadow with a touch of warm? 

Which background do you like the best?

Points to remember:  (The way I paint, if you look at my paintings you should see warms and cools used in the following way, at least I hope so because I try to do that because I like the variety it creates. 

The type of light used makes a difference in the choice of temperature.  Outdoors the sun creates a warm light and coolness in the shadow.  Indoors, depending the type of light bulb you use in the spotlight, the light can be cool and the shadows warm or just the reverse.  If you don't know the color of the light just pick either warm or cool then paint the opposite in the shadow. 

I like to include warms and cools in both light and shadow.  If the shadow is warm, I will add a little of the same value but in a cool hue.  Most of the shadow shape will be one or the other with just a small addition of the opposite temperature.  It goes back to VARIETY as a strong part of a good painting.  The shadow or light will be predominantly one or the other with just a hint of the opposite temperature. 
Another good exercise:

When mixing you colors and values, challenge yourself to make a warm and cool version of the same color and value. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Learning to Paint -

November 3, 2013

SO MUCH TO LEARN - one of the things I like about painting, there's always more to learn.

I just invested in a three part DVD by Quang Ho.  I'll include a link to his site.  The first DVD is called "Nuts and Bolts" and is packed with so much outstanding instruction for a beginner, an intermediate or an advanced painter.   PUT THIS ON YOUR WISHLIST (link to Quang Ho's site)

Link to Pinterest board "Learn to Paint"

I've posted 10  of my own exercises/lessons from previous blogs  on pinterest.  The board on pinterest is called "Learn to Paint".  The lesson are out of order, but I numbered them so you can do them in order if you want.  Also listed are some recommended books and Quang Ho's DVD series. 

(For some reason pinterest doesn't allow you to move pins around on a board and that is why they are out of order)

SALES and Marketing - more to learn

Just Sold - the color of this photo is off and that is why I am now using a better camera and spending more time on taking better photos.  You should start to see an improvement.

New listing on ETSY

Friday, November 1, 2013

How to start a painting

Four steps - one way to start a painting

  This is how I usually start my paintings.  I  set up the still life in my shadow box with the light coming from the left or right, just so there is a strong shadow side with a cast shadow.

One way to start a painting:

Step 1 - after toning the canvas with a wash of ultramarine blue, cad red light, and yellow in a neutral mix, the next step is to start drawing with the neutral mix.  Keep the drawing to shapes and values more than a line drawing. 

Bottom left is a value drawing of shadow, cast shadow, reflected light,  and light.  It's all about getting the values right. 

Step 2 - Top left - Translate the values to the equal color values, still very loose and thin paint.  At this point, still looking at the sill life is a good time to do any needed re-drawing. 

Step 3 - Top right - apply thicker paint, add mid value where the dark meets light and on the right side of the apple that reflects the light.  I start with the darks first. 

Step 4 - Bottom right - Finish the painting by refining details, adding thicker paint on the light side, adding the highlight,    The general idea is to work all over the painting including the background and foreground. 

There are lots of ways to start paintings.  This is just one.