Check out this cute Australian Shepherd Portrait painting progression. I am on a crunch deadline to get this painting finished so for today, this will be just a short post.
After the initial layout, I started with putting in the base colors. Here it is black, ochre, white and blue. Once all the colors were placed more color was added to create the form. The original photo showed the dog with its leash and missing a paw. Unlike photos, a portrait looks better if all limbs are present, so I have added the missing paw.
My rule of thumb is that if there is something that does nothing for the portrait take it out. The leash is not necessary so it was the first thing that had to go. I always say that the space on the canvas is prime real estate, don't waste it on backdrops. It is more important to show the sitter of the portrait than what is in the background.
To do that, I took my photo reference to Photoshop and scaled the reference image to the larges size possible. That meant that the skyline has to go as well.
Then it was time to take a good look at the ground. The ground in the photo looks like marble to me, but for this painting recreating a marble ground just makes no sense. So here varied brush strokes are used to create a ground. What is important is to ground the dog to the surface and that is done with shadows.
I can not stress enough that every painter needs to stop using black for shadows. Pure black should be used very sparingly. Instead, squint and squint some more to see what colors are hiding in the shadows. In this painting progression, you can probably spot dirty beige, pinks, greens, and blues. Their value will be the key factor in how we read the shadows as shadows.
As I often point out dog fur is rather boring when it is kept to one color. Experiment with working in colors from the surroundings of the photo reference. Since I have the blue water in the background I will be using various shades of blues to create the form. As the painting progresses more and more colors will be worked into the fur for a vivid more lifelike look.
The painting looks still rather flat, but that will change in the next stage of this painting progression of the Australian Shepherd. The dog has long strands of fur and longs whisps of hair around the ears. To keep with the Ying and Yang principle the painting needs to be balanced with soft strokes (for hair) and textured strokes (ground and water). But more on that later on. Make sure to subscribe to follow along and see how I finish this painting.
I have not even started on the details of the head yet and figured this will be a good point to consult with my client and see if she is happy with the painting so far. If you found this post useful feel free to share it via social media.