Last night I got a very nice email from an elementary art teacher in Ouachita Parish who is planning to study a few of my paintings with some of her fifth-graders, using the work-in-progress photos as a guide. How cool is that? I’m sincerely honored that I could be a part of their art learning experience!
Speaking of work-in-progress photos, here are the ones for the Blue painting (I thought you might also be interested in seeing my original reference photo, above. As you can see, I sort of rearranged the fringed blanket when I made my composition, I removed the etagere from the background and changed the wall from aqua to rose, and his tag from green to gold in the final painting):
Here’s my initial sketch, in Mars black acrylic (I just used water mixed with the paint for the washes.)
Next I add glazes (paint mixed with Liquitex acrylic glazing medium) of Prussian blue, Hooker’s green, cadmium orange, caput mortuum violet (a sort of dusty gray dark violet), raw sienna and rose madder for the wall behind Blue’s head. The part of his body that will be in shadow is Prussian blue glaze over a Hooker’s green glaze. Using transparent glazes for my underpainting at this stage allows me to still see all the lines and shadows of my beginning sketch.
Now I’ve added more glazes to deepen the colors and differentiate between warm, cool, and cooler areas of light. I warmed up that rose wall with a touch of cadmium yellow medium glaze. The light is coming from a window on the viewer’s right, so you can see that side of Blue’s face and shoulder is warmer than the other side, which is warmer than his body, which is totally in shadow (except for a slight highlight along the top of his back which I will add later). On the cool side of his face and chest I added a glaze of quinacrodone fuchsia, and to the warm side I added rose madder and yellow glazes.
Now I start adding opaque colors, starting with Blue’s eyes and the highlighted side of his face. Below you can see a large view of his eyes in the final painting.
I love painting Blue; he’s a beautifully muscular dog, and that combined with his smooth coat make for a lot of interesting shadows and highlights in his chest and shoulder areas. And here’s where you can see I started adding highlighted areas along his back. I kept the strokes of burnt sienna on his body really loose to let that bluish-green underpainting show through for deep shadowy areas.
Here I want to point out the very light touch of a vermilion glaze that I added to the left side of Blue’s face (our left, his right) to calm down that yellow highlight.
Now I’m starting to add color to the blankets. I sort of made up the flowery pattern on the back of the chair. Just because I wanted to. Keeping the brushstrokes really loose there leaves just a suggestion of the pattern, which is all I need to get the idea of a floral upholstery across to the viewer. Remember, one of the really interesting things about impressionist-type painting is that the viewer’s brain will fill in missing visual information from his own memories and visual experience, so a lot of different people looking at the same painting might be drawn to it because they find something vaguely familiar about it. I think that is SO cool.
More playing with the highlights in Blue’s chest and shoulders, and development of the blankets. for the texture of the blanket I layered little dots of a few colors in those areas. Not too densely, though. Remember, just a suggestion is enough. For the multicolored fringe I very loosely stroked it in with white ...
... and then added glazes of different colors over it. Then I added a glaze of dark gray over the part of the fringe on the right that appears to be in shadow. Also, the fringe on the right has more contrast between the shadows and highlights than the fringe on the left side of the painting, because the blanket on the left side is in a softer light caused by Blue’s body blocking the bright light coming in from the right. Also, here you can see that I’ve added a few light touches of pink and yellow to the floral back of the chair, just to give it a little more depth, and to pick up that yellowish light coming in from the right.
And then, where, oh where to sign this puppy? The bottom of the painting has interesting lines I don’t want to mess with, so I decide to go for a subtle signature in the shadowy side of the background wall.
Tell you tomorrow!