From a photograph by Katherine Rodgers. This was one of those dogs that pretty much painted himself. He is worked in oils on linen mounted to board - a really lovely support. I got a big heap for my birthday last week and I just love them. Such a luxury to work my daily paintings on linen (I normally use mdf boards, cut by the nice blokes at Jewsons and gessoed by me).
Obviously the main challenge with this chap was how close the colours and tonal values are, so I needed to ensure we could separate the various bits of the dog and the dog from the blue blanket. I mixed the darker greys of his fur from burnt umber and ultramarine. For the lighter greys, I added a touch of red to warm it up a bit. For the lightest grey of all, I just kept adding white until it was one or two shades lighter than the white palette I was working on and then I added a "bit" of cad lemon - by bit, I mean a drop such as you could pick up on the end of a toothpick. We do not want a yellow dog. Or a green one.
It is a fact that to achieve the effect of light lights, pure white is not usually the answer. Imagine a red vase. If you mix white into your red for the places where the vase is not in shadow, your vase will no longer be red. It will be pink. So an alternative method for shading from dark to light has to be found. The answer is to reserve your highest, purest, chroma red - straight from the tube red - for the lightest angles on the vase and progressively darken the red for the shadows. Viridian (red's complement) is good for this.
So, for greys, which are a little bit trickier, I reserved my warmest greys (the ones with a touch of red or yellow) for the lights and my darkest greys for the darks. As I had used ultramarine to mix these greys, when I came to doing the blanket I switched to Prussian Blue. Just to ensure it looked different. Hope you like my Blue Boy.