It always saddens me when one of my clients tells me that one of their pets has passed on. When I received this reference photo, I took a look to see what needs to happen before the painting can be started. The dog is missing a paw, so I have added it. My client requested Burgundy and Gold tones so the painting color scheme would fit better into the room where she is planning to hang the painting. As with all my work, I have first created a mock-up so my client can choose the color scheme she likes best.
Option 2 was chosen for this portrait and I will be adding the work in progress photos below, along with some insights on my painting process.
When there is time I love starting out with a greyscale underpainting. It helps me not to only figure out the placement of the figure on the canvas, but also the color relationship of each area.
Paintings that look interesting have colors in them that you would never think of when you first look at them. Here I am starting to work in red and, pink, purple and ochre tones. As long as the colors stay very close to the values of the underpainting pretty much any color can be chosen. For fur, these initial colors create extra depth and make the final painting look much more lifelike. This painting will get closer to looking more realistic with each new color layer.
When painting varying brush sizes and pressure creates a nice balance. I am now adding more and more color. These color applications are still fairly light since the painting needs to still get refind. If paint gets applied too thickly it's hard to make changes later on.
When I keep looking at the reference photo and see these soulful eyes, I just couldn't help myself and had to add them. In # 4 I have softened the foreground and background. Colors have to repeat throughout the painting so that the entire work looks harmonious. Some of these gold tones are in the background and even in the fur. The same goes for the red tones of the background, which have been added to the body and appear as dark shadows under the pillow.
I am starting to work on the finishing touches. Now it's time to add thicker paint and just make the whole painting come to life.
This Chihuahua has skin tones showing through and that's why I used a lot of pink tones in the underlying layer. I did some color adjusting to now bring out the white of the fur over the pink tones and will be working on adding more heavy paint to bring the painting from a flat stage to one with lots of texture. Every step builds upon the previous one towards the finish line.
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