Friday, 30 October 2015

Red Study

oil painting of fluffy, red, tabby cat

A red study, but on the brownish end of the red spectrum. 

The palette: Rembrandt Transparent Oxide Red and Transparent Oxide Brown. The addition of white increased opacity where necessary; there is also a tiny bit of black in this but used with great care because black and cats do not seem to go together. 
I have discovered that leaving out the white until as late as possible is the best solution; once added in, it seems to spread everywhere and then the darks cease to be dark enough so then you reach for the black, then you get mud, then there are tears before bedtime. This is the trouble with cats.
At the start, the plan was to use orange, but in the event this underpainting was left to dry and I switched to the red palette:
work-in-progress cat oil painting

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Yellow Study

study of boston terrier, light and shadow study

This painting was a study in painting light and shade using a base colour of cadmium yellow lemon.
Yellow is a tricky colour; to darken it you can use progressively darker shades of the same colour family - cadmium yellow deep, moving towards orange, right up to red if you want. But what if those colours are not going to work with your subject? Using them to model daffodils, for example, is not going to work - at least not if realism is your goal. I have experimented with yellow ochre (too overpowering and opaque) and raw sienna (too wimpy and transparent). 
So to achieve a more muted colour, which if you isolate it from its context, is barely definably yellow, I used the complement - violet. 
I mixed my own using ultramarine and alizarin crimson because purple straight out of the tube didn't seem to work.
The second step I took was to separate out in my mind the light parts of this scene from the shadow parts and forced myself to consider them as two sets of separate colours, which I mixed accordingly. 
I have gone through the phase of painting everything the same colours and then attempting to put the shadows over the top (like in "real life"): and it doesn't work.
In a steady and uniform light that cushion behind his back is one colour - pale yellow. But light is rarely steady and never uniform. In the context of this scene it is two separate colours. I had in-the-light colour strings down one side of my palette and in-the-shade colour strings down the other.
It was the same for the dog.
I think it worked. He looks like a sweet dog.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Orange Study

oil painting of a jack russell terrier
This sweet JRT has been painted using 3 colours: Permanent Orange (still my new-favourite tube of paint), Transparent Oxide Brown, Ivory black and white. 
Within the colour harmony of the painting, a little bit of black in a lot of white gives the illusion that you also have some blue on the palette. 
I forget where I read about this. But I thought it must be true, because so often having, say, black and yellow ochre on the palette has produced an unexpected green problem (cow pat colour dog syndrome). 
If black can act like blue on a yellow paint, why not like blue in a white paint. And so it was. 
I painted him from the eyes outwards
work-in-progress, oil painting of a jack russell terrier
until I had a dear little face looking back at me. Then I felt it would be difficult to get the values correct on his white body fur without a contrast from the background, so I put the background in next with a palette knife.
The orange is Rembrandt Talens Permanent Orange, bought as a less expensive substitute for their Cadmium Orange. This one is fab but it is semi-transparent, and I would love a really opaque and vivid cadmium orange as well. 
I wonder if Father Christmas reads my blog?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Grey Study

oil painting of boxer dog, a pet portrait, animal portrait

Such a dignified, thoughtful pose for this lovely dog. A painting made with a limited palette of orange and paynes grey, apart from permanent rose for nails and muzzle, and the tiniest touch of cad lemon in the right hand background. Worked all in one sitting from the eye outwards.

work-in-progress of boxer

Saturday, 17 October 2015

All attention (3)

seated labrador, oil painting

Working dogs have a particular way of paying attention, especially out in the field, a pose I have tried to capture in this limited palette painting, through a combination of colour and hard and soft edges.
Last post for this week. Have a great weekend and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Friday, 16 October 2015

All Attention (2)

Miniature Schnauzer oil painting
Someone has lent me a book, recently, about body language and interpretation techniques. It occurred to me, reading it, that none of it ought to be a surprise to anyone who owns a dog. Dogs only have body language to communicate. It must be acknowledged that Miniature Schnauzers also have a wide, loud and expressive vocal range, but it is hard to imagine they are actually saying anything much beyond "look at me".
Unlike yesterday's Sheltie, they do not "do" elegance and dignity. They are direct and they are very comical.
I just love the expressive variety you get from something so simple as sitting attentively.
Painted in two passes using only black, orange and white (apart from the tongue).

Thursday, 15 October 2015

All Attention

sheltie, rough collie, sitting dog, oil painting of a dog
A little exercise in contrasting colour temperature (warm - dog; cool - background) depicting a lovely Sheltie, or maybe a Rough Collie, in a classic "good dog" pose. Painted in two passes in order to get a feeling of depth to his long fur.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Double Trouble

Double Troiuble, oil painting, two puppies, animal portrait by Karen

Autumn colours again, but a bit more muted and sober than yesterday's. I still kicked the painting off with my luscious new tube of orange paint (any excuse):
work-in-progress photo of two sleeping puppies painting

This muted palette basically consisted of warmer colours - orange, burnt sienna - for the left hand dog and cooler colours - raw umber, blue - for the right hand dog. I hadn't planned it that way but found it difficult to differentiate the two dogs and make an interesting painting. So I wiped the first attempt and used two separate palettes second time around - one for each dog. 
The floor boards are orange, blue and white: orange and blue make a lovely grey. 
That's all for this week (unless you also follow my other blog: I have a portrait to post there in a minute). 
Thank you for looking at my paintings and have a great weekend.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Autumn colours

autumn colours, a yorkshire terrier

This dear little chap was inspired as much by a new tube of paint as by the season: I bought a tube of Rembrandt Permanent Orange and it is fabulous. Here is the start of this painting:
work-in-progress yorkie painting
It was a mistake to draw the few lines on the board using a Wolff Carbon pencil, because as you can see it smeared a bit when the paint went over it. I should have fixed it first or just used something else. 
But I waited for the orange to dry completely before working on it and all was well. It is not as if Yorkshire Terriers are a pure, clean orange in any case.
I worked the rest of the painting in one sitting using a large, pointed round for the face, which I haven't done before. It worked well for the features and the strands of hair, especially because you can place a sweeping line very, very gently thus avoiding the problem of lifting the wet paint beneath.


Friday, 2 October 2015

86 sleeps until Christmas

oil painting of dog under the mistletoe, dressed dog
When October ticks round, and tins of sweeties start piling up in the supermarket, isn't it nice to know you can order something for Christmas that is not fattening?

This post is a reminder, gentle reader, that oil paintings cannot be picked up off the shelf quite so easily as sweets. If you would like a painting of your pet, finished, dry and ready to unwrap on Christmas morning, please pop along to my website here to find out how. When you contact me about your order quote BLOG86 and I will give you a 10% discount.

All orders are first come, first served. International orders by the end of October, please, if delivery by 25 December is essential.

Have a lovely weekend and thank you for looking at my paintings.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Snoozing Lab


A gentle start to October with this old friend.

Labs are not the easiest of dogs to paint. I find the colour matching tricky. The main risk is that they become paler and paler so in extreme cases you "run out" of light paint and cannot get any lighter as you have already drifted into pure white. This is usually referred to as a beginner's mistake, I know, but it is one of the easiest to make, especially if you're not concentrating: I still do it often. 
Here's a tip: pin a pure white index card against the image you are working from - or hold it up if you are working from life. Things are just not as "white" as you think they are. Unless you are painting a Samoyed or similar:
in which case it is permissible to lose the will to live. I was commissioned to paint a bichon frise not long ago. He had been freshly groomed for his portrait. 
He looked like a dandelion clock with two button black eyes.