This is a portrait of a beautiful tri-color Springer Spaniel named Cassidy. I donated a pet portrait to English Springer Rescue America (ESRA) for a fundraising auction, and Cassidy's parents were the winning bidders.
People have been asking me lately about my process. Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer because I don't have a set approach to painting. I may do things differently based on subject, size, purpose of the painting, my mood, whatever. I decided to turn this Different Strokes challenge into a WIP, so those people who are interested could see one of my methods for tackling a painting.
Unless my painting has to be perfect, I prefer to skip measuring. It makes things tedious and takes the fun out of it. For this particular subject, I’m not concerned with perfection. Close is good enough, because no one will likely know if it isn’t perfect. Which means I’m not measuring (hooray!).
Step 1: I cut a 7” x 5” piece of suede matboard and tape it to a piece of cardboard. I then crop and print the reference photo to the same size, taping it next to the board. This will allow me to check size, values, and shapes, and is particularly useful to check accuracy when standing five or six feet back.
Next, I pick out pastels in a light, medium, and dark value. Not the lightest light, or darkest dark, of course – that’s like dessert for me, so I save it for later. I use the light pastel, making marks where the lights are in the ref photo, then do the same with the middle and then the dark values. Now I have a basic sketch.
Step 2: Obviously, I’m going to be using some pastel pencils with this piece. Her face is only ½” big. There’s no way I’ll get enough detail with these fat pastels. Using a gray pastel pencil, I define the figures.
Step 3: Going back with the pastels again, I work on the values.
Step 4: I alternate between pastel pencils and pastels, refining the drawing. With the finished painting next to the ref photo, it’s very obvious where I’m off. But since no one is going to see the ref photo next to the painting in real life, I think it’s close enough.
Here is the finished piece again, larger. Lots of fun, and no tedious measuring. My favorite way to paint!
My first few attempts at painting in oil were small (5”x7”) paintings of my daughter reading. When I painted them last year, I decided it would be a good subject for a large painting. Of course, at the time I was planning on doing it in oil, but I never got around to it. Since I recently got a full set of Mount Visions pastels, I’ve been playing large. I thought it would be fun to see if I could paint this in pastels instead of oils. Turns out, it really was fun.
I’ve been given the “Passion for Painting” award by two of my online artist friends, James Parker and Edward Burton. I am supposed to list seven things that I love, and then pass the award on to seven other artists.
The seven things I love are:
Sitting on my deck in the summer with wine and good friends, or a good book
Being able to watch hummingbirds, bald eagles, the occasional deer, or even seals while I do the dishes or lounge on the deck
The sound of my kids laughing
The smell of the air in summer, when the sun heats up the pines
Here are seven very talented artists whose work I particularly enjoy: