Portrait Marathon: TIGER’s turn! (I stand corrected!)


Thanksgiving was great, with lots of family fun and food.  I’m re-charged and ready to PAINT!

Jennifer’s Ruler TIGER is up next.  Jennifer sent me a wonderful photo to work from.  Look at that happy boy, with the jaunty tail!

Cropping and getting a general idea for background got me this final reference image.

Now, on to the canvas!

(Edited to correct Tiger’s name.  Tiger is not Ruler.  Silly Xan!  ;P )


Portrait Marathon update: Skye DONE!

Ah!  Done!

Skye’s owner, Leslie, told me that Skye likes to really MOVE, treating the yard like a Nascar track.  Her (further) use of race car terminology tipped me that she’s a fan (I hope I got that right!)  The reference photo is a stark stare, eyeballs ready to pop out of her head, she’s so intense.  I decided to throw in a Nascar reference with their logo, redone with Skye’s name.  She looks like she’s revving up, on the very edge of jumping the starting gun.

So, how did she get to the finish line?  Let’s start from the top.

This is the reference image, cropped to the area I would be using, and fiddled with ’til I could see her brindling a bit (at first I thought she was just all “blue”!)

Skye is a blue-fawn brindle, so I thought I’d play on the warm lilac tones.  What?  You don’t see lilac?  Really?  Hm.  Well, it’s part of the mix, I think.  Let’s see how it works out.

I found a Nascar logo, and reworked it in Photoshop, inserting Skye’s name in a similar style.  I thought it needed more racing imagery, so I tossed in a racing stripe, fading rapidly into the distance.  Once I got the reference image how I wanted it, I printed it out to use at my painting table, and drew the outlines onto the canvas.

Looks like a paint-by-numbers set at this point, right?  (I just remembered from early childhood the smell of the oil paints in their tiny plastic cups, no bigger than thimbles, that came with these sets … how did we clean up?  Was there turpentine?  I do remember the cheap plastic-hair brushes!)

Where was I?

Right.  Painting Skye!

Next, I wanted to lay in the logo, then get the background started, and give an overall tone to Skye herself.  Again, I wanted to separate the background from the subject by using warm colors in one place, and cooler in another, so golden yellow went in all over, except where Skye is, and I washed in this pale lilac over Skye, scrubbing out the highlights with a wet brush.  I did put in some of the warm yellow and raw sienna in her eyes, to get them started.

Next, it was time to get serious about getting shadows established. Using a deep violet, mixed with burnt umber or raw sienna, I started darkening areas I knew I wanted more shadow in.  I also used this mixture on the background.  Raw sienna starts to pick up the areas of brindling on her body.

Still no pupils.  She looks like the proverbial deer in the headlights!  Let’s work on that in the next phase.

That’s better.  Now you can start to see some much deeper darks going in, with payne’s gray, and some ultramarine blue in the body.  Too blue, though.  I’ll have to work on that.  The darks in the photo came out way darker than they really were at this stage.  I had a lot of toning to do, yet.  You can see where it’s going at this point, though.  She does look a bit like a purple and gold Dalmatian, don’t you think?

From here to done was a matter of many, many, many washes of payne’s gray, raw sienna, back to burnt umber, violet, some highlights in naples yellow, deepest shadows with a mix of payne’s and umber … then a few highlights thrown in towards the end, to bring out details in the eyes, around the muzzle, and so forth.  It’s between this phase, where you can start to see good depth, to the finish where all the really finicky works happens, going from rough to fine, from okay to hey-that’s-pretty-good, and finally to, “Okay, I’m calling it.  That’s done!”

Then I fiddle with it for another hour or so.  😛

So, that’s Skye, start to finish.  Hope you enjoyed the progress.  Let me know what you think!

Next up is … Hm.  Let me see.  Who IS next?
Ah!  Lori’s ol’ man Tuck!  I have a special warm spot for this curmudgeon.  He’s very special to Lori, and lucky to have her.  Cool.  Okay!  Onward!

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!)