"Cole" (greyhound) 8" x 10" acrylic on panel, © Xan Blackburn


(greyhound) 8″ x 10″ acrylic on panel, © Xan Blackburn

Cole was the apple of his daddy’s eye.  A sweet guy, gentle and reserved most of the time, he could bust out a silly every now and then.  Reminds me of my old gentleman, the dear departed Brilly.  I was happy to spend some time soaking in Cole’s gentle glow. Starting again with less than perfect references, I had to sort of grope my way in Photoshop to determine some details.  Working across several pictures helped to fill in some blanks though.  Here’s where we started. I gathered that he was a bit redder than he shows in this image, and Jennifer assured me that the marks on the side of his face were the remnants of a faded youthful mask.  I liked how the light glowed along one side, and decided to play up the feel of that light surrounding him from behind.

Cole original reference
Cole - photoshopped reference 1

Ah!  That’s better.  I liked the way the colors layered up and played off each other, not just in the background but in Cole as well.  I was particularly liking the deep purple darks warmed with a hot mauve, sitting near those brick red accents … Now to get it going on the panel.

My first idea was to give him this really hot background, but it wasn’t right, and I hit a wall.  After cooking the idea a bit longer, I took the image into Artrage to loosen up again.

Cole - Artrage sketch
Cole - work in progress, #1

Slashing in with some cyan, still panicked, but now kind of intrigued on how to get from here to there.

Cole - work in progress, #3

Almost there.  I think this is where I left it last night.  The right leg is a bit odd, and I’m not convinced about leaving the yellow un-touched where it joins the top of the head.  I woke up thinking it through, how to go forward, making my final plans.

I have to say, no matter what I do with the scan settings, or in Photoshop, I can’t seem to capture all the layers and juxtapositions of the colors that are actually there.  Below, you can see a detail view that is pretty good.  Well, at least Jennifer and her husband will be able to see them in person. Next up is Terri’s gorgeous borzoi, Timber.  I can hardly wait!  Where will that portrait take me?

Starting right in with ultramarine for my deepest darks, I was in my usual panic.  How is this going to work??  Now, it doesn’t look as bad to me as it did when I was painting it.  I’m such a scaredy-cat! Next color …

Cole - work in progress, #2

Kind of took a run at it, as you can see.  Adding that mauve was super fun.  Look along the dark zones in the ears and below the eye to see how that layered up.  Cool.  The lower body is looking pretty weird, but hopefully I can still pull that out.  Background is begun.

Cole - work in progress, #4

I scanned the painting, went back to Photoshop, and messed around with it a bit, worked it a bit more, scanned, photoshop, repeat … until I stopped. If it’s still done when I look at it tomorrow, it will be a wonderful thing.


4 Responses

  1. This is a truly impressionistic painting, giving the feel of swimming under water, emerging into light. Very exciting in its freedom–even if you had to go through a lot of what seems like painstaking work to get that effect.

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