Petey: Greyhound portrait in progress

Petey got some long-awaited (and well-deserved) attention today.  Let’s see where he’s at right now.
Petey: work in progress
Acrylic, 8″ x 10″
© Xan Blackburn 2012
I know I’ve said this before, but I really enjoy this phase.  There’s a dreamy quality to it, the suggestion of things not quite pinned down, but clear nonetheless.  The quality of translucent color is restful, perhaps even because the contrast of light and dark (value) is so subtle.  
Still, that’s not where we will stop with young Petey.  Onward!
To re-cap, here’s where we started with Petey.  The reference picture,
and the first washes of color.
Petey: work in progress
Acrylic, 8″ x 10″
© Xan Blackburn 2012

Today, I started in with the the values, beginning to establish the dark areas with a very cool blue, to contrast with his soft gold highlights.  With my usual timidity, I haven’t committed to anything very dark yet, telling myself to build up to the darkest darks in layers for maximum control and depth of color.  Some of the dark areas will warm up considerably before I’m done, but I want this coolness to be at the base, reflecting through the subsequent layers.  

I can afford to be a little loose here, but, like a skeleton inside a body, these darker values will always be the underlaying structure, and if they’re way off, it will show, deforming the final painting.  Hence my timidity!  

Soft Sculpture

I’ve been immersing myself in all things soft-sculpture for the last week or two, in full research and inner-creativity mode.  This is to fulfill my donation of a soft sculpture portrait in the recent Portrait Auction.  My winning bidder has a brindle greyhound, so that’s my challenge.
My desk is littered with sketches and notes, and my project table has a big pile of collected materials.  
My plan so far is to use a combination of techniques, including a wire armature for the head, and spine (not sure about the tail, yet), button joints for the shoulders, hips and maybe the knees, and ball-bead joints for the elbows and hocks.  I don’t know why I’m jumping into such a complicated, articulated sculpture right off the bat, but what the heck: in for a penny, in for a pound!  
I went shopping on Monday.  I covered three stores: Hardware Sales (I could spend DAYS in there!), Goodwill (looking for fabrics, notions, and inspirational stuff), and JoAnn’s.  I sort of struck out in Goodwill, and was hoping for success in JoAnn’s, but was a little frustrated for the main item: fabric.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but was hoping to be struck by the lightening of Rightness when I ran across it.  Not so much.  
My winner’s taste runs to the Victoriana, shabby chic sort, and my subject is a brindle greyhound with well-spaced stripes, and a thing for bananas.    The sculpture will hopefully be pretty poseable, and include a banana in some way.  Or, posed, with a banana.  We’ll see.  I chose a soft gold, mottled, fabric for the body.  I may add some other bits as I go along.  I also bought some black yarn to embroider the brindle stripes, buttons and beads for the joints, doll making needles (very long) to sew them, insulated copper wire for the spine, nylon tubing for the leg bones (not sure I’ll use that, but …), heavy duty thread to hold the joints together, and two sizes of hemostats for stuffing.  Really.  Oh, and knitting needles to stuff and turn the narrow bits, too.  I already have batting.  My good friend and fellow artist, Jonni Good, has sent me some Apoxie Sculpt she had but wasn’t using, which I’ve been lusting for but was too cheap to purchase.  I’m not sure it will get into this sculpture, but I can’t wait to experiment with it!  It could be a nose, claws, or eyes, which would make a neat sort of textural contrast to a stuffed cloth dog.  
We’ll see how this evolves.  I’ll definitely be showing you the process I go through.


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