portrait Marathon update: Phoenix progress – The Blue Phase

I had to salvage a website that went down in flames today, which set me back.  But Phoenix rises from the ashes!  All cool blues (for the moment).

Looks like Delft, don’t you think?
I really almost hate to go past this point, it’s so pretty.  But, the final product should be worth it.  Maybe I’ll do a whole series just in blues next time!  What do you think?  *sigh*  
*prolonged pause for moony gazing*
Okay.  I’ll go ahead and wrap this up tomorrow.  To bed, now!

Portrait Marathon update: Quilty progress (going backwards in time)

Some folks have expressed interest in the progress pictures, which I didn’t post for Quilty.  So, we’ll go backwards in time here to get a look at how she ended up done.

Here’s the reference photo:

I have to start these by cropping the photo down to fill as much of the canvas as I can with the pet’s face.  In Quilty’s case, that was pretty easy, since she’s face-on, nothing sticking out to the sides: fits well in a square.

Can you resist cracking up at this face??

Then, still in photoshop, I start messing around with lighting and background ideas, until I think I’ve got what I want.

Oh, and re-create the eyes if they’re blown out by flash, as Quilty’s were.  In this case, I wanted to accent her barking, and … hm … how shall I say … ego-centrism (and I mean that in the nicest possible way!) with the concentric waves radiating from her head.  But not too attention-getting.  Just background.  All this work in photoshop takes the place of painted sketches from “the olden days”.

On to the canvas.  I draw onto the canvas, in blue, usually, then start painting the first layers.  I wanted this one to have have that warm yellow everywhere except her face, which I wanted to really pop out.  So, I washed in the yellow everywhere but her face, which I later washed in with the palest blue.  Except for her hot, glowing eyes!  Contrasting warm and cool areas helps to separate them in space.

I laid in some of the blue waves early on, and added a wash of that blue over her body, to tone it down some.
I didn’t take any pictures after that ’til I was getting close to done.  You can see how much I’ve toned down the waves, for instance.
Layered in her stripes, got her features pretty well defined, but there’s still work to be done.  The shine on her nose is too much.  The little mustache area is too blue, the stripes are too strong, and the area on her shoulders isn’t right yet.  I keep detailing, re-balancing, washing in, washing out, bumping up contrast in the areas I want it most (eyes, mouth, nose), softening contrast where I don’t want much attention (the stripes).  
Finally, I think I’m done.  The canvas edges are painted, I’ve signed it, H has approved the shine on the nose is adequately toned down (the first thing he noticed when he looked at it at the stage above), the shoulders have been re-worked to my satisfaction ….  Done.
Aaa-and that’s how it goes!
(Meanwhile, Coco kitty seems to be feeling a smidge better, probably from the antibiotics, but I decided she needed some food, despite not wanting to eat on her own.  H and I droppered some liquified food into her fairly easily.  Hope she keeps it down!  Maybe a little more before bed.  Thanks for the good thoughts!)

Portrait Marathon update: Quilty is done

Had a rough day here, with a sick kitty, but enjoyed being able to lose myself in Quilty’s bossy barking presence.  She seemed to be demanding, “ME!!  PAY ATTENTION!  TO ME!!  

So, here’s Quilty, in all her bossy splendor.

Heathers, I hope you enjoy the portrait!
I’ve got Saturday-ish things to do today, but I’ll probably get started on Number 4, Nancy’s Harry, sometime today.
Have a wonderful Saturday, everyone!

Portrait Marathon Update: Celeste is Done

Celeste turned out kind of moody, kind of 19th century, I think.  I’m pleased.  I hope you like her, Laura!  🙂  Thanks for the opportunity to work out the unique challenges of this particular painting.  (I can say that now!  LOL )
I’m off to take a sick kitty to the vet.  When I get back, I’ll start in on … who’s next? … Ah!  Quilty!
Stay tuned!

Portrait Marathon Sign-ups are …….

Xan’s Portrait Marathon. n.  An event during which an artist or artists produce portraits in a concentrated fashion over a set period of time.  Participants submit photos for reference, and agree to purchase the finished portrait at a set price.  Great fun for all!  Fabulous gifts!

Here are the details:

This marathon will be a series of 10 (with the possibility of more, if I’m up to it) acrylic paintings on 5″ square canvasses, gallery wrapped around 11/2” deep sides for easy, frame-optional display.  Because of the size, these will all be head-shots, to allow for detail and expression.

If you submit a photo (instructions to follow!), you agree to buy the portrait for $70 + shipping.  Payment, by PayPal, to be complete before I can start work on your portrait.

I will go in the order photos are submitted, and that payment is completed.


  1. Choose ONE photo, clear and high-res, of any ONE pet (dog, cat, hamster, ferret …), attach it to an email.  (tip: If you have a really big photo file, but it’s of the entire pet, crop it down to just the head, down to the shoulders.)
  2. The email should have your name and your pet’s name as the subject.  
  3. Send the email to xan@xans-art.com with 
    • your name and your pet’s name
    • any notes about your pet you want me to know, to help me choose a mood for the painting

subject: Humphrey Blackburn; Wabi
message: Hi, Xan!

Wabi is a little thing, mischievous and cuddly. Her favorite thing to do is eat dandelions.  Attached is her photograph.  Can you put some dandelions in the painting, maybe?


When I get close to finishing one, I’ll send the next person an email with a paypal invoice.  When it’s paid, I’ll start work on that one, and so on!  If there’s a delay in payment, I’ll skip over to the next one.  If the delayed invoice is paid, I’ll do that one next.

****Oops!  Well, like a doofus, I’ve been sending out the paypal link when I acknowledged each arriving photo!  *rolling eyes at self*  You can hold off paying them ’til I ping you, or go ahead and pay them right off.  Either way works.  Main thing is, I can’t start painting ’til the payment goes through.

I know lots of you have more than one pet you’d like done.  I want to be fair, so I think we’ll do this as one to a customer.  Heck, some of you have 10 pets!  That could take up the whole marathon right there!  LOL!
Sign-ups are now …..
Wait for it  ……