Tuesday, 31 March 2015

oil painting of an elegant pointer, pet portrait by karen

Here is a supremely elegant-looking lady: an Audrey Hepburn among dogs. Just loved those ladylike crossed-paws. Painted with chromatic black mixed using Pthalo Green and Cadmium Red (warmish) and Pthalo Blue and Ultramarine (coolish). I only used tube black for her eye-liner and nostrils.
Today is the day, three years ago, that I stopped smoking after 34 years of committed puffing. This was part of a drastic economy plan to enable me to paint full-time. So an important anniversary.
Ironically, the single most important inspiration was and is himself a committed puffer: David Hockney. I had been given a book about him by Martin Gayford, Conversations with David Hockney. 
This book had a profound impact, triggering a desire to paint - which I have never done before (always something arty, just not paint). I visited Hockney's 2012 exhibition at the Royal Academy in March and nothing was ever the same again.
He had filled a whole room with work he had made in watercolour - a medium he had never used before. How amazing is that? 
Never too late I decided. And set a date.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Robin's nest

oil painting of a robin's nest, 4 robin's eggs, pet portrait by karen
Something a bit different for today, because I had some delicious puddles of blue left over from yesterday's painting. Manganese Blue by Rembrandt and a touch of Pthalo Green. There is possibly a robin nesting in the recycling bag down the side of my house. I daren't peak in to see in case I disturb them. There has been a robin living down there for months. Practically a pet, then.
Reference photo by Terri Lyons, Paint My Photo.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Cat on the sea wall

oil painting of black and white cat, a pet portrait by karen, cat painting
Chromatic blacks and greys in this piece, mixed from ultramarine and burnt umber, mainly, cooled further or warmed up with alizarin or burnt sienna. I was interested in capturing the pert curiosity in this cat's pose. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Chocolate labrador

oil painting, chocolate labrador painting, pet portrait by karen
Here is an imaginary labrador eyeing up my imaginary ice-cream. That is one of the wonderful things about painting - however grey and grizzly the weather, you can always paint yourself some sunshine.

The sunshine is Gamblin Warm White and small amounts of Indian Yellow, a high chroma yellow pigment (once upon a time it was made from the urine of cows fed only on mangoes. No longer, thank goodness). The chocolate is mixed from two Rembrandt Transparent Oxides: brown and red and Cadmium Yellow Deep. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Yellow Labrador puppies

oil painting, labrador, yellow labrador puppies, a pet portrait by karen
I find yellow labs - and all dogs of a similar colour - hard to paint because the colour is tricky to mix and the shadows are also a challenge. So I chose this sweet little scene to try and crack the colour-mixing problem. As you can see, it is a complex jig-saw of different shades of yellow and orange with some tricky shadows as well. 
I have read that it is "essential" to buy a proper Naples Yellow, the colour I automatically thought of when I saw this scene. I checked this out only to discover that the a "proper" tube of this pigment costs upwards of £30 ($45+), so I bought a £3.50 tube of Rowney Georgian oil colour instead, a student grade brand that art teachers are usually very sniffy about. 
It is fabulous. 
Can't recommend it highly enough. 
Yellow labrador puppy colour in a tube.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Greyhound (3)

oil painting, brindle, greyhound, pet portrait by Karen
A little painting that I found more complex to paint than I expected. All the colours turned out to be quite similar and my dog kept disappearing into the Chesterfield (I imagine that is what he is lying on). His brindle coat was a challenge to paint in one sitting, as brindle markings always are - the transition from brindle to boggy being unpredictable and usually swift. I used a fair bit of Cad Yellow Deep to try and redeem the unremitting brown and warm everything up a bit. Hope you like him.
Last painting for this week. Thank you for looking at my paintings. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Greyhound 2

oil painting of a wire-coated lurcher, greyhound, a pet portrait by Karen
This painting was the one that nearly got away. I wiped it twice. Each time I re-started in the same way I usually do - painting in the eyes - and each time there was a dog looking balefully out of the canvas, but when I started on the coat it all went wrong. 
Reluctant to give up on this dog who clearly wished to join the world, I tried for a third time and here he is. 
I think using a lighter, cooler background than usual threw me and his shaggy coat is tricky to render in one sitting. In the end, I had to add fur bit by bit over four days, letting each layer properly tack up before the next. It was the only way I could avoid a canvas load of slurry. 
I have called him a greyhound, but I actually think he is a lurcher as I am sure there is a bit of wolfhound peering out of the canvas.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Greyhound 1

oil painting of a greyhound, a pet portrait by Karen, a dog painting
A week of greyhounds, starting with this languid chap. I love the faces of hounds, especially their eyeliner which seems common to lots of hound dogs. I have recently read that greyhounds did not, in fact, originate from the Middle East - many writers assert they were the pets of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. 
Studies of mitochondrial DNA suggest this was not the case. It is now believed they were brought to Western Europe by the Celts.
From the beginning of the first millennium B.C., the Greeks were seafarers and traders and regularly visited ports all along the southeastern Mediterranean in what is now Egypt and the Middle East.  Much of what is known of that area in those times was recorded by Greek historians and there is no mention of Greyhounds.  
The breed was completely unknown to them prior to 200 B.C., the time of their first encounters with the Keltoi - as they called them - a tribal culture from the north.  In the first century BC,  the poet Grattius wrote of the Celts’ dogs that: “…swifter than thought or a winged bird it runs, pressing hard on beasts it has found.” 
So, my greyhound is not lounging there so languidly after all. He is perhaps a bit smug and thinking: "Swifter than the winged bird, I am. It's official..."