Thursday, January 15, 2015

History of a Painting

Painting a black dog doesn't seem difficult until you either look carefully at a black dog or look equally carefully at many photographs of black dogs.  Although some people may think that painting a dog of any color or any kind is difficult, and to that I'd say everything can be difficult. So here's a brief history of what I did in the hopes that writing about it will keep some of it in my mind for next time.

I looked at many photographs of labs because I've never owned one, and I needed to understand things like the shape of the skull, the length of the snout, the ears, mouth, body, legs . . . .  Even though I didn't paint the entire dog, I did have to understand what made the dog look as it did as it lay on the sofa (which was a plaid that I knew I wasn't going to put into the painting).

Then I had to think about the color of the dog - black.  Black has many different colors in it and reflects many different colors.  So how can I show the folds and shadows?   And how in heck can I paint a black-lab black.  

That's where the idea of using pastels came in. I knew I could get a more intense black with pastels.  Had I ever used pastels, no.  That's the way I do things, and it isn't always smart.  Thank heavens for Internet and YouTube both of which I used to figure out the best way to begin as it was midway between painting classes.  I purchased a pastel paper pad that had the gray color paper that I knew I wanted.  Note to self: check the quality of paper before buying it!  I didn't.  Hated the paper; the side I used (which may have been the wrong side - another note to self . . .) had honeycombs which meant that the pastels stayed on the raised ridges even when I rubbed the pastel across, up and down, diagonally, etc.  But the black was really dark - except for the centers!

Then I remembered a YouTube title that I had seen while trying to figure out to to use pastels with no points (I didn't want to waste them by rubbing the chalk against a surface until a point was made).  I could use watercolors, too.  That was the first rescue mission on this painting . . . 

And that's probably enough for tonight.

1 comment:

  1. Noel: Your black lab is very convincing. The fur appears soft to the touch, The little red collar sets off the head from the rest of the body. (did the dog have on a collar?) The snout looks like that of a mature dog,..indeed the whole posture of the dog reeks of maturity I can almost feel the cool moist nose. The eyes I suspect are readily discernible by its owner. I hope you will continue your description of the process. I'm still not sure how you combined pastels with watercolors. But this is a very successful portrait of someone's beloved pet.