Pre-Holiday Pet Portrait MARATHON

We still have time to do this, so we’re going for it!

Berger Picard "Daddy" by Xan Blackburn
Berger Picard “Daddy”
Work in progress
Acrylic on panel 8″ x 10″
© Xan Blackburn 2012

MONDAY, Nov. 26 – Mon., Dec 17

Just in time for holiday gifting, I’m taking three weeks after Thanksgiving to do a portrait marathon!

As always, it will be first-come, first-served, sign ups starting on Friday the 23rd, at 9am PST.
That’s right; “Black Friday”! Take a little break from the shopping madness. 😉

This time, you’ll have a choice of either 5″ x 5″, gallery-wrapped canvas or panel (either can be displayed without framing, but framing is great for either, as well),
or 8″ x 10″ panel. The 5″ x 5″ portraits are $80, and the 8″ x 10″ are specially priced for the Marathon at $150 (that’s $110 off!)

I’ll remind you on my blog and Facebook that morning, with the link to the sign up form, but for those of you who will need no reminder (you know who you are! LOL!), here’s the link. Any entries before 11/23 9am PST will not get on the list, so … wait … for … it …


In the mean time,

I’m still working on my portrait of Lily and her Daddy.  I’ve also been designing holiday cards for a commercial client, and my husband’s business.  
But, and this might interest you, I’ve also designed a card just for you.  It’s a little thank-you to my readers and clients, with a little DIY extra.  If you’d like to receive a card from me, please fill out this address form.  And, even if you don’t, THANK YOU.  

Moving On

First of all, because it’s the biggest thing in my life right now, and because my life and my art really aren’t easy to separate, I have to say that Wabi, my sweet, curly, snake-neck, goat-head monkey-girl, my little greyhound chimera is gone.  I could (and will, but not here) write volumes about that little girl-dog.  Suffice it to say that my heart is broken, but that her lesson is to live life, and enjoy it despite obstacles.  Wherever you see a dandelion (a favorite obsession of hers), I hope you see a bit of sun, a treat, and that it makes you smile. 

Now, moving on.
Acrylic on gessoed panel.  8″ x 10″
©Xan Blackburn 2011

Fluffy is finally done!  Assuming I stop messing with it, this is the final look.  Okay, actually I fiddled with it a bit more after this scan, but you might not be able to tell the difference if I re-scanned it! 

It may not look too different from the last time I showed it to you, but I assure you, there are hours more fiddling in it since then!
One thing you might be able to see, if you go back and forth, is that I took the cooler blueish tones way over into a burnt umber zone.  It was bothering me earlier that he was starting to look sort of grubby.  I had to step back, sort of wash my eyes out a bit, and come back to the photos with freshened perceptions to see that the tone of his fur is truly much warmer than I had made it, and that’s what I’d been fighting with, resulting in a confused, dirty sort of look.  I was able to resolve that by giving in to the warm tones, even though I was afraid he’d just blend into his warm background.  The cooler shadows underneath helped prevent that, however.  So, here comes Fluffy!
Kris, his owner, is ill right now.  I hope this little painting of her adorable pup can give her some pleasure, and that she’ll be well soon.
And moving on further, I’ve begun real work on the 4 breed demonstration portraits I mentioned earlier.  I’m going to keep these to a similar look so they work well together on a shared board-frame-thing my husband and I have cooked up to display them at shows.  They are on gessoed panel (actually Claybord, which is not gessoed, but coated with a very fine white clay), on which I’ve laid down a muted warm background on, mixing Naples yellow, burnt umber, ultramarine blue and gesso (so much for the clay surface!)  This gives me a matte, slightly toothy surface which I’ve been enjoying in my last few pieces.  
Work in progress.  Acrylic on Claybord.  8″ x 10″
©Xan Blackburn 2011

First up is Daddy, a Birger Picard.  I’d love to meet one of these dogs!  They look like a neat breed, and I love the rough, fuzzy face!  Here’s where I am as of right now.  

The drawing has been transferred onto the prepared panel, and I’ve begun to lay in the underpainting in a mix of raw umber and Prussian blue hue.  You can see I’ve also already washed in a little pink to the tongue and ear.  I had mostly wanted to get the eye going, which meant layering up red and golden yellow, and red goes a loo-ooong way, I’m super cheap and hate to waste paint, so I wanted to use up the tiny bit I squeezed out.  
Daddy, reference photo

  My reference photo is not very good, sadly, but I’ve been able to cross-reference with some others to give me a sense of the actual texture of the fur.  I’m going to TRY to get all four of these done in time to scan the finished paintings, design some postcards and/or business cards, get them printed, and still take them all to California in a week and a half!  Wish me luck.  I’ve got to get a wiggle on!

Reference request, and Fluffy, Redux

I’m currently seeking permission to use reference photos from owners of 4 specific breeds, in case you know any!  Please get in touch if you have photos of (list changed!):
  1. Dogue de Bordeaux
  2. Mini/Toy Aussie
  3. Xoloitzcuintli
  4. Berger Picard
If I use your photo, you have the option – but not the obligation – to buy the artwork when I’m done with it at a discount (as there may be some wear on the pieces from their travels).  I anticipate using them for about a year, which means your dog could travel the US, showing up at NAKC shows representing your breed!  😉  
As usual, I’m looking for personality shots, rather than show ring.  Clear, high resolution photos can be emailed to me.


Poor Fluffy!  
I started Fluffy’s portrait ages ago:

April 12, 2010 –

On the other hand, I have a little fluffy dog portrait to do that reminds me of my dear departed Hobie.  Aww!  Here’s the reference photo (much tweaked from the original).  Isn’t he too sweet?

April 20, 2010 – 

On the tables to do now are the portrait of Fluffy (currently mired in the “OMG, I don’t remember how to paint!  How’m I supposed to paint all that HAIR??” stage) ….

I didn’t tell you about how I messed that poor portrait up enough that I painted over it … TWICE!  I’m now on version three.  Even though his owner has had to wait all this time, I think the end result will be better for it.  I wish I had total control over this thing, but sometimes I’m just not ready for a certain painting!  I’ve now got time to work on two that had stalled out like that.  Fluffy’s, because his wonderful fur was defeating me, will now be better for my having worked on the silken windhounds for the last few weeks.  (The other one, we’ll get to in turn.)  

Work in Progress: Fluffy
8″x 10″ acrylic on gessoed panel
©Xan Blackburn, 2011

I prepared several boards on Sunday with toned gesso.  Four are in anticipation of doing some drawing/paintings (kind of like I did for Hunter), and one was for Fluffy.  (Working with the chalky-thick blendable tones of gesso made me want to paint with gouache again.  I might have to push some gouache into something soon!)  I thought I might take a similar approach to Fluffy’s portrait, but that’s not what’s happening.  Here’s where we are this morning. 

 I started to sketch, but realized quickly that I needed to mostly define his fur as light, not dark (pencil), so switched to paint.  This is all still super rough and funky, but the shapes are there, I know where things are.  Now I can concentrate on getting that fur texture.  

Notice that some areas are warmer -towards the outer edges – and some are cooler – in towards his face. I want to set him off from the cool background with warmer shadows, and give him the feel of a warm, living critter, and also create a frame for his sweet little face.  It will be interesting to see this vague cloud refine into recognizable Fluffy!

The other boards I prepped will be for marketing purposes, to show my ability to represent other breeds.    That’s what the reference request is all about.  The plan is, they’ll be showing up at NAKC events.  H and I have been working on packable easel plans for these, and I think I’ve come up with something brilliant.  Let’s see if H and I can make it manifest in the real world!