Friday, January 17, 2014

Calliope the Suliki

Oil on Canvas Board
11 x 14

This was another practice painting for dog portraits. This was VERY difficult. I would say that the wicker was almost as hard as the dog. This is a champion show dog that belongs to my cousin. I liked the regal pose on the chair.

I was feeling more confident, but it was very hard. I re-read my Norman Rockwell books, and paid close attention to his steps of procedure.

First, I transferred the drawing to the canvas. During the drawing phase, I paid very close attention to the wicker and the pattern on the upholstery. I figure that if a drawing is off, it does not matter how well it is painted, it isn’t going to look right. Norman Rockwell spends a LOT of time on his charcoal drawings, so I figure it’s worth the trouble: less things to correct later.

Secondly, I covered it with a burnt sienna wash. I went back over the wash with more burnt sienna to work out the darks.

Thirdly, I blocked in all the basic colors. For the wicker, I painted it all pretty dark, so that I could put on the highlights later.

My pallet was very limited. Aside from a few browns, and black, I only used Alizeran Crimson, Dioxanine Purple and Ultramarine Blue. I like using ivory black because it is completely predicable when I mix it with other colors.

I made all grays out of just black and white. I warmed the gray for the wicker with Naples yellow. I cooled the gray for the upholstery leaves with blue. I made a brown-gray for the dog by adding umber to the gray. The upholstery was just crimson and purple mixed, with a touch of gray to de-saturate it. With such a limited palette, I didn't have to keep remembering how I made a color. I noticed that for Norman Rockwell's first printable "color" covers, he only used black, white and vermilion. 

Fourth: I repainted everything with a second thin coat of color. This smoothed things out and made the colors look more real. The dog was very, very hard. It’s hard enough to get all the lights and darks correct to give the face shape, but it was even harder that the local color kept changing. It made me think that people portraits might be a lot easier: they only come in one color per person. I found that the fluffy parts of the dog are easier to paint that the short-haired parts.

I really wanted to give up on this one. It seemed impossible, but I just kept plugging away. When it was all done and dried, I put on the whites, like the last painting, and I put the last few highlights on the face, the nose, and the eyes.

I am so happy with how this one came out, I think I might enter it in the fair. 

This painting gives me a lot of confidence. I am feeling more comfortable with the colors that I am not groping around trying to make the colors I want. I have a system now that seems dependable. I can concentrate on making a good picture, and not so much on wrestling with the oils. 

No comments: