I won't waste your time with a lot of chit chat...this morning, it's pet portraits! I know there are probably tons of blogs out there about how to paint them, but this one is going to be a step by step, how-to photo and how-to capture your pet with watercolors.
First off.....always start with a good photo where there's a plethora of light in the eyes, a photo that's well lit, the pup has a cute expression on its face, ears up, etc. I was using my friend, Britta's, dog, Roxy. She's a cutie. It doesn't have to be a big old production, just grab your cell phone and start snapping until you get a good pose.
This is the pic I chose to paint from. Yes, the background is distracting, but we're going to eliminate everything except for the head and shoulders. The reason I chose this photo is that there is a great reflection in the eye, there are great light and dark contrasts in the ear and mouth that give depth to the painting. Her pose is relaxed and the light on the eye and nose is clearly defined. A lot of dogs have dark muzzles, so if you can get a pic where the light clearly defines the mouth and nose area, it will help you greatly.
Using a number 12 round, I load the brush with burnt sienna and start working my way around the face, laying on a mixture of van dyke brown and violet for the darker areas and french ultramarine blue on the nose area. I keep clear of the eye so that I can do small detail work on it later. Here's the first wash. You have to work rather quickly to get the wash on without making a mess of it. (don't worry about the whiskers....I did away with them eventually b/c they were distracting)
I also lightly painted on some opera rose on the ear and under the chin. For under the chin, I wet the whole area, painting on a light wash of opera rose first and then using a heavier pigment mixture of the brown, I dotted in her spots. The pigment for the spots needs to be heavy on the brush so that it doesn't spread as much.
Once the eye was dry, I painted another wash on it, deepening the colors and defining the shapes more. I always encourage my students to spend several minutes simply studying the subject, noticing shapes and shadows, subtle changes in color, before painting. Then, while you're painting, you need to be looking at your subject constantly. Make it a habit for your eyes to be consistenly switching between your painting and your subject. This keeps your brain from filling in incorrect details...which our brains LOVE to do for us.
I darkened the nostrils a bit more and now, at the end, I'm kind of just adding touches here and there, seeing what she needs in the finished details.
It's funny b/c sometimes I post a blog and I don't get any comments on it, so I naturally think that nobody has read it. Then I see friends and acquaintances later who say, "Oh, I love your step-by-step pics and instruction." Or "Oh, it's so neat to see the process of your work"....and that is encouraging and fun to hear.
Really, my blogs are for your instruction and enjoyment and I hope you have learned some from this one.
Have fun painting your pets!