Chris' greyhound, Cash, at age 10, is on her second life! That's pretty good for a spooky grey, I'd say! She had a bad reaction to routine shots, actually died, but was brought back to life - a modern-day miracle! And, a gorgeous, blue-brindle gal, to boot.
Cash's portrait is painted on a canvas panel, which is a very big switch from the much smoother Aquabord panel I used on Red's portrait, right before this one. The rougher texture was a nice change, though it makes getting good pictures tricky. Let's see how we got to stage: Done!
Starting with this reference photo ...
Once my drawing was ready, I dove in with Payne's gray for the underpainting.
This is where I left it last night, with some serious tweaks, and lots of fine-tuning to do, but generally close. Notice the lighting changes between this and the final version, especially on the right side of her face.
I cropped, played with the lighting a little, made the bed a little more luxurious, but removed the pattern that I felt would compete with Cash's subtle stripes.
The underpainting is well under way, here.
Unfortunately, the photos I attempted of the early color phases just did not come out at all, so you'll have to content yourselves with a big jump here.
I think I'm done with Stella. I hope Lynn agrees!
As it's Memorial Day weekend Saturday, my husband and dogs are all wanting dinner, and I'm rather hungry myself, I'll just show you some progress pics to show you how I got to this point. Enjoy!
Stella, the sleeping beauty! Okay, she's not sleeping in this portrait, but her owner tells me that she sleeps a lot, and sent me several photos of her in that state. Sounds like a greyhound to me! (Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds sleep a lot more than they run. A lot more. Like, mostly, they sleep.) But, I couldn't resist this pose, even though it shows her being awake. At least with this portrait, her owners can imagine what she looks like standing up when the memory grows dim between naps.
The image above shows where her portrait stands at quitting time, Friday evening. I'm seeing a pattern of slow starts, and quick finishes, so far. My budget of 2 days/portrait for this marathon seems about right.
The panel I'm using for this portrait is called Aquabord, which is an archival panel with a clay surface that has a texture and absorbent quality rather like watercolor paper. I've used it before and really enjoyed it. This time, it wanted to fight with me, but I've taken the upper hand. It is too absorbent for what I wanted to do here, but once sealed with a layer of acrylic, it behaves much better. I probably should have chosen one of the other panels, but ... oh well!
The reference image I chose had good lighting, and was well-focussed, showed her entire face, and gave a good sense of her (waking) expression. You can see her dark brindle markings, and her glossy coat, as well as her deep burnt-orange eye color.
As usual, in Photoshop, I decide what I want to do with the background, and alter the photo as necessary to make a good portrait in the proportions we're working in. For Stella's rich, dark brindle, a mahogany-dark background really set her off nicely.
This type of panel requires being flushed with water, to allow air bubbles trapped in the surface of the clay to escape, and to manage the absorbency a bit. I almost forgot that, but they handily put a little "tip" sheet in the packaging, thank goodness. Flushed, allowed to dry a bit, and the drawing transferred, I decided to start laying in the background, first. I thought it would help me keep the balance of tonal contrast right if I had a good sense of the background while working. It will take several layers, but I wanted to start with this raw sienna, to warm the later layers of burnt umber from within, rather like Stella's warm rusty stripes alternating with the almost-black stripes on her coat.
Once I had a couple layers down in the background, I started in with her eyes, but the one on the right wasn't quite working, and the Payne's gray seemed too cool, so I left off for the moment, and started the underpainting in raw umber. Beginning to layer up the shadows and darker tones.
Once I switched to the raw umber instead of the Payne's gray, it started to come together better. Plenty to do tomorrow, but we're off to the races, now.
I'm hoping for a view of the meteors tonight. I hope you got a chance to see them, too. Back to work tomorrow!
I'm pleased with this stage, though I had hoped to be a bit further along by quitting time tonight. Well, life, in all it's variability, will make hash of the best of plans, eh?
Here's a quick run-through of how we got here.
Luki is a delicate thing, a bit shy, a little un-sure. Of the reference photos, I had to choose this one, for the lovely lighting, her alert gaze, pricked ears, slender muzzle and cautious mouth.
As usual, I took it into Photoshop, and experimented with the background, composition, lighting, etc., until I was content.
and my studio companions in their places ...
I began. First, I transferred the drawing I had refined in photoshop by re-drawing on the back of the printed paper with conte crayons (dry pastels). I chose to use different colors for this, as this method does leave definite traces in the painting, and I wanted to enhance the painting, not create something I'd have to fight with later. Cool gray for the muzzle areas, and a hot yellow-orange for the rest. Taped it to the panel, and drew over it again to transfer the drawing to the panel. I set the drawing using a brush wet with a bit of dilute acrylic polymer, letting the color of the pastels act like paint as it spread into the acrylic.
I was on the fence about how to go forward: bold, like in Sadie's portrait, or more cautiously, in glazes, as I generally do? Like Luki, I decided on the more cautious approach to suit her personality. What with one thing and another, this is as far as I got today, and I'm pretty pleased with the feel.
Tomorrow: more Luki! I have a feeling these are going to average 2 days/painting. Let's see if I'm right!
11″ x 14″, Acrylic on Canvas
copyright 2014 Xan Blackburn
|Truman – work in progress, stage 1
starting the under-painting
|Truman – work in progress, stage 3
getting a handle, developing the underpainting
|Truman – work in progress, stage 4
most of color is laid in, developing detail
If you look at them closely, you can see how I had to re-adjust his eye focus as I went along. Other than that, everything went forward pretty much as planned from the start.
Acrylic on canvas, 9″ x 12″
© Xan Blackburn 2013
Well, there you go.
I still have our original emails and the very first one was in early March 2006. That’s why everything slowed down so drastically, Shawn died unexpectedly during a surgery on March 23, 2006. I couldn’t even leave my house for the first week. Shawn was and still is my original heart hound. I love him dearly and it is because of him that I am marrying my soul mate, his breeder and originally owner. It was only fitting that he be the focus of this long awaited painting. We will have it framed and hang it in a special place in our home as he is very special to both of us. We always say that John gave me Shawn and Shawn gave me John.
Life and love is a long and winding road, isn’t it?
Love Hope Believe
Speaking of life and love, Hope for Hounds’ raffle for the first 2013 collar, and a lovely print, raised $1975!! Yeay people!! And congrats to the two winners, Meri and Carol. Look forward to seeing Meri’s hound on both 2HoundsDesign‘s and Hope for Hounds‘ websites as the official 2013 HfH Collar Model Extraordinaire!
The collar will be available to order to the general public soon. We’ll be sure to let you know!
Meanwhile, if you simply must have some HfH merch, there are still collars and leashes using previous years’ designs on 2HoundsDesign, and some great decals for your car, laptop or other flat surface to wear at Skinny Hound Design.
Who’s up next?
And … I’ve run out of baseball stuff. Maybe something about dug-outs, or chewing? I dunno. I’m coming up empty! Help a girl out!
Not sure this is the photo we’ll use, but it does finish up this post quite nicely, doesn’t it?