Monday, July 11, 2011

More Yellow Lab, Calvin

Calvin 18x24 inches, acrylic on canvas, work in progress
I have been working a bit on Calvin as you can see. I made the background behind his head darker. It was too light for the wispy fur bits to show well before. I still need to do a lot of work on his feet and his face. He looks a little grumpy yet. The photos I have do not show his feet very well so have had a hard time with them. And if you have a yellow lab, are their toenails black? I'm thinking they are, just want to confirm before I paint them in.

In more news I had mud and water in the back porch and kitchen on July 4th. Got 1.4 inches of rain in less than an hour. So a lot of time mucking things out and also clearing the drainage ditch on the hill above my house. If I'd been keeping up with it then the water probably wouldn't have made it into the house. Still it wasn't as bad as it could have been and I've heeded the lesson; new note on each month's calender to check the ditch! "A stitch in time..." you know!

count Down to Italy

My Australian artist friend, Elise and I are going to meet in Italy in August. One of the first places we are staying is in Perugia at this lovely B&B.

View Larger Map
Perugia is the capital of the region and also the name of the town. It has several museums and other things  we want to see. It is also close to other interesting towns, like Assisi, of St. Frances fame and Fabriano where they have been making paper since the 1300's. We are planning to see the paper making museum there. And yes, of course! We are going to buy some paper!

We might also make a little side trip over into Tuscany to the town of Volterra. It too has some museums and interesting things to see. The funny thing about Italy is you are as likely to see a really wonderful and even famous piece of art in the local church as at the museum. And of course a great deal of the art in Italy is church related.

I think I just might have to order this book, as I don't have a lick of Italian!

And this one should give me some idea of all the lovely places we don't want to miss!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Well this just came across my face book page and I wanted to share it with all of you. Chroma paints and North Light books are sponsoring a give away. A set of Chroma's Atelier Interactive paints and mediums and a couple of cool books. Free to enter, just go to the Contest Page  Have a good 'un.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More of Calvin, my 3rd Yellow Labrador

Calvin 18x24 inches, acrylic on canvas, work in progress
Well if you missed the last couple of posts right now I'm working on Calvin, the third Yellow Labrador pet portrait commission I've done this summer. I got a chance to work on him a bit today before I went to work

A lot of people have asked me how to paint animals and I do intend to do some tutorials about how to paint fur and how to get the shadows and such.

I would also love to get a video camera and do some video tutorials too, but that will have to wait just a bit.

In the meantime I will give you some help full hints. I usually draw or trace my design onto the canvas with pencil. Then I use diluted black paint and a #2 liner to go over the lines and to add in the darkest shadows, expect on the back ground.

Then I paint in the back ground. With these yellow labs, since they are pretty light I like to have a darker background to make them pop. With the first one I did of Luke & Gus together I used Sap green, adding in some black towards the edges. With Sachmo I used mostly Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna for the back ground. With Calvin I've been using a dark blue, about the color of new denim except not so bright, a little purple dioxizin and white, with a touch of black and burnt umber in the very darkest places.

When the background is dry I mix up my animal shadow color. With Calvin I used burn umber, van dyke brown and a little burnt sienna, varying the mix according to how dark the area was. The lighter areas are raw sienna + white and yellow ochre + white.

From there I go back and forth with the lighter and darker colors adjusting the light and dark areas and also adjusting the colors. I always have them all darker than they will be in the end, so I can add layers and layers of lighter colored fur strokes, giving depth and life to the fur.

I have a large collection of brushes for the different types of painting I do. All of my fur work is done with rake and comb brushes of different types. Then the very last layers and fine detail is usually done with a #2 liner brush, though I may use a smaller one if working on a very small piece.

I have several of these Simply Simmons brushes. I LOVE! The filbert comb brush! I also have an angle comb brush in this series. These two brushes are my work horses for fur painting. With the angle brush I can turn it and just use the very tip to get fine lines in a tight spot or turn it to use the whole brush. Also they last really well. I am a brush abuser bar none! And my SS brushes have really stood the test of time; soaking in water for days on end, occasional drying paint in the bristles and they are still good as ever. the paint is beginning to flake off the handles from sitting in water too much but the bristles are still really tight and good to go.
Robert Simmons Simply Simmons Brushes
Robert Simmons Simply Simmons Brushes
Every Simply Simmons Brush is the same, low price! This versatile range of dark-tipped synthetic filament brushes provides excellent spring and a sharp, chiseled edge. Handsome short handles are pearlized white and are resin bonded to seamless black ferrules. Offering quality in a full range of styles for many different effects, Simply Simmons brushes are a solid, affordable choice for both crafters and artists. They are most suitable for use with watercolor and acrylic paint, but may also be used with oils. Amazingly, the price is the same no matter which brush you choose. Try them all!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Artist at Work

My Studio with work in progress

OK, so you can't actually see me working in this picture. Since I live alone there isn't anyone around to take pictures of me doing things. But here is my studio in its current state of disarray. It gives you an idea of how I work. When I'm working on canvas I use my easel and since I'm right handed I like to set my paint and water to  my right. Then on my table to the left is my laptop. I listen to things on youtube and other places or sometimes just music cd's while I paint. And I use my laptop to see my photo reference, since my own camera is digital and my clients usually send me their pictures as email attachments.   Here you can see me working on my newest commission, Calvin.

And here's a close up of Calvin.
Calvin,  18x24 acrylic on canvas, work in progress

Blick Studio II Lyptus Convertible EaselThis is the easel I am using in the first photo. I bought it from Dick Blick and I am really enjoying it. You can tilt your painting from completely horizontal (very handy for watercolor washes or varnishing!) to just past vertical, so if you are doing pastel, your pastel dust will fall off and you don't have to be blowing on it all the time. It will also fold up flat, very handy for small spaces.

I purchased mine a couple of years ago and have been extremely satisfied with it. My one minor tiny complaint, (which will only apply if you live in the desert like me!) is that when the air is very dry (like less than 10% humidity) is the wood shrinks a bit and the bottom cross bar the canvas rests on comes a bit loose. My remedy has been to put a bit of masking tape in the slot to help close up the gap and increase the traction. This works pretty well. Otherwise a fab easel at an affordable price!

Friday, July 1, 2011


Well I delivered Sachmo to my client and he was delighted. And he has ordered another portrait for a friend. Things have been pretty crazy with my work so I haven't got much done, but I at least got a little blocked in, so here is Calvin.
Calvin 18x24 inches acrylic, work in progress
 Yes, another Yellow Lab, most all the pics I have of this guy, he's in his winter coat, so longer fur than the others. In one pic there is a green tennis ball behind him, I'm thinking I might put it in front of him, between his paws. Don't forget you can click on the picture to see it larger.

Happy Paint Party Friday! Sorry I missed the party last week, just way too much stuff going on in my life right now. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by and commented or 'followed' my blog, really appreciate it!

Besides painting and my regular job I have been working on my garden and writing articles over on Squidoo. And trying to stay cool, has been 106+ this past week, I think one day it was pushing 110.

Don't forget to hop on over to PPF and join the party!

PS. I am trying to decide which postcards to send to the Liberate Your Art swap and can't make up my mind! So if you have a minute, please take a look and tell me which one is your favorite!