Painting “Mountain Foxhound”

Mountain Foxhound

IN THIS STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE, I WILL SHOW YOU HOW I CREATED “MOUNTAIN FOXHOUND”, OR “MONTE” AS WE AFFECTIONATELY CALL HIM AT HOME.

I AM A SELF-TAUGHT ARTIST. MY SYSTEM FOR BUILDING A PAINTING EVOLVED THROUGH YEARS OF WORKING WITH THE MATERIALS AND DISCOVERING WHAT WORKS FOR ME. THERE MAY BE BETTER OR FASTER TECHNIQUES THAT ARE TAUGHT IN ART SCHOOLS. IF YOU ARE NEW TO PAINTING, I HOPE THAT WHAT I HAVE TO SHARE ABOUT MY OWN DISCOVERIES WILL HELP YOU IN SOME WAY.

MATERIALS:  36″ X 48″ CANVAS / ACRYLIC PAINT / ROUND AND FLAT BRUSHES IN SIZES SMALL TO LARGE / GLAZE / WATER PITCHER TO RINSE BRUSHES BETWEEN PAINT COLORS

STEP 1:  THE BACKGROUND

DSC_7119

FROM THIS FIRST PICTURE, I’M SURE YOU’VE SPOTTED THAT THE BACKGROUND SKY CHANGED SIGNIFICANTLY FROM BEGINNING TO END. MANY DECISIONS ARE MADE DURING THE COURSE OF A PAINTING, AND I LIKE TO EXPERIMENT. FOR A 36″ X 48″ CANVAS LIKE THIS, I USED LARGE FLAT AND ROUND BRUSHES FOR THE BACKGROUND.

I INITIALLY SET OUT TO PAINT A FOXHOUND LARGE IN THE FOREGROUND WITH DRAMATICALLY DARK GROUND COVER. I LET MY PAINTBRUSH FLY ON THE SKY WHILE LISTENING TO SOME FAVORITE UPBEAT MUSIC.

MUSIC CAN HAVE AN INFLUENCE ON THE STYLE OF PAINTING I CREATE. UPBEAT MUSIC = LOOSE PAINT STROKES AND A MORE ABSTRACT LOOK. PEACEFUL MUSIC = TIGHT PAINT STROKES AND A MORE REALISTIC LOOK. I USUALLY MATCH MUSIC TO THE IDEA WISELY. FOR THIS PAINTING, IN RETROSPECT, IT WAS A MISMATCH OF MUSIC AND COMPOSITION. BUT, THE JOURNEY WAS ENJOYABLE.

(TIP: STEPPING AWAY FROM A PAINTING CAN HELP YOU GET A SENSE FOR HOW THINGS ARE COMING TOGETHER, AND IF THEY GEL. CLEARLY, I HADN’T DONE THAT UNTIL AFTER I FINISHED THE CLOUDS.)

I WAS HAVING SO MUCH FUN WITH THE CLOUDS, I JUST WENT WITH IT. I KNEW EARLY ON, THOUGH, THAT COLORFULLY DENSE CLOUDS WERE NOT GOING TO WORK FOR THE OVERALL COMPOSITION. IT WOULD STEAL THE FOCUS AWAY FROM MONTE, THE FOXHOUND. BUT, I WASN’T YET READY TO LET THEM GO (A.K.A. PAINT OVER THEM). SO, I MOVED TO FOCUSING ON THE MOUNTAINS AND THE ROUGH OUTLINE OF THE FOXHOUND.

STEP 2:  THE ROUGH OUTLINE

DSC_7126

FOR THE BACKGROUND OF THE MOUNTAINS, I BEGAN EXPERIMENTING WITH ADDING DEFINITION IN BLUES AND GRAYS. THESE COLORS USUALLY PUSH THE MOUNTAINS INTO THE DISTANCE, WHICH IS WHAT I WANTED TO DO. BUT, AT THIS POINT, THEY STILL SEEM TOO CLOSE. THERE IS TOO MUCH DEFINITION AND THE COLORS ARE NOT FADED ENOUGH TO GIVE THAT IMPRESSION OF DISTANCE.

WHILE I MULLED THAT OVER, I BEGAN PAINTING A ROUGH OUTLINE OF MONTE. I WORK ON GETTING THE PROPORTIONS RIGHT EARLY, SO THAT I CAN FOCUS ON BUILDING LAYERS OF COLOR. AT THIS POINT, THERE ARE SOME PROPORTION FIXES TO MAKE, SUCH AS THE POSITIONING AND SHAPE OF THE SNOUT, AS WELL AS THE HEIGHT OF THE RIGHT EAR. ANY BODY LINES THAT ARE NO LONGER NEEDED ARE PAINTED OVER WITH BLACK.

STEP 3:  FOUNDATION LAYER

DSC_7129

THIS IS THE FIRST OF 7-10 LAYERS OF COLOR THAT I WILL ADD ONTO MONTE. AT THIS STAGE, THE PAINT COVERAGE LOOKS SPLOTCHY. IT IS A FOUNDATION LAYER. I’M GETTING A SENSE FOR THE SHAPE OF THE PATCHES IN THE FUR AND I’M STILL ADJUSTING THE PROPORTIONS OF THE BODY. THE SHAPE OF THE SNOUT AND OUTLINE OF THE BACK HAVE BEEN REPAINTED.

WITH SOME LEFTOVER PAINT, I EXPERIMENTED ADDING SOME LOW CLOUDS IN THE VALLEY (WITH SHORT, CIRCULAR STROKES OF THE PAINTBRUSH). THE CONTRAST OF HIGH AND LOW CLOUDS WILL GIVE THE PAINTING A FEELING OF SPACE. BUT, NOTHING IS SET YET. IN FACT, ALL OF THE BACKGROUND WILL CHANGE. I HAVE NO FEAR OF CHANGING THE ENTIRE BACKGROUND. EACH STAGE AND EXPERIMENT HELPS ME TO DISCERN WHAT I WANT TO CREATE. AND WITH ACRYLIC’S QUICK DRY TIME, MAKING CHANGES IS UNCOMPLICATED.

STEP 4: PAINTING LIFE INTO MONTE

DSC_7150

WITH A MEDIUM ROUND BRUSH I PAINTED SEVERAL LAYERS OF FLAT FUR COLOR IN WHITE, RAW SIENNA, BURNT SIENNA, BROWN, AND BLACK.

WITH A SMALL ROUND BRUSH, I PAINTED IN LIGHT GRAY SHADOWS FOR THE WHITE FUR, AND MUSTARD YELLOW HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE PATCHES AND CHEEKBONES. I USED A VERY THIN BRUSH FOR LONG STRANDS OF FUR ON THE TAIL.

FOR THE SHADOW AND HIGHLIGHT COLORS, I MIXED THEM WITH GLAZE TO GET A LIGHT, MORE TRANSPARENT SHADE THAT IS NOT OVERPOWERING. I ONLY WANTED A HINT OF THESE COLORS. IF I HAD USED THE MUSTARD YELLOW AT FULL CONCENTRATION, IT WOULD HAVE DRAWN ATTENTION TO ITSELF INSTEAD OF COMPLIMENTING THE COMPOSITION.

THE EAR HAS BEEN PAINTED DOWN TO THE RIGHT PROPORTION, BUT THE FEET ARE STILL BEING WORKED ON. I MENTIONED IN THE POST “PAINTING ROSE MILL COTTAGE” THAT IT’S BEST TO PAINT IN THE BACKGROUND FIRST, AND HERE YOU CAN SEE WHY. IT WILL TAKE MORE WORK TO PAINT IN THE GROUND COVER AROUND THE LEGS AND ACHIEVE SMOOTH DEFINITION. I’VE REACHED A SKILL LEVEL WHERE THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM, BUT IT IS EASIER TO GET THE BACKGROUND RIGHT FIRST.

STEP 5: BACKGROUND – TAKE TWO

DSC_7150

THE STORMY CLOUDS AND OVERLY DEFINED MOUNTAINS HAVE BEEN REPLACED WITH A LIGHTER, EARLY MORNING LOOK. I GAVE THE CLOUDS SOME VISUAL WEIGHT WITH DARK GRAY. THIS HELPS TO BALANCE THE COMPOSITION WITH THE DARK FOREGROUND. THERE WOULDN’T BE ANYTHING WRONG WITH HAVING A CLEAR SKY, I JUST LIKE THE SENSE OF DISTANCE THAT THE CLOUDS CREATE. NOW, IT’S TIME TO ADD DETAILS AND BUILD UP THE FOREGROUND.

STEP 6: DETAILS

Mountain Foxhound

THE MOUNTAINS NOW HAVE SNOW LINED RIDGES AND FADED GREEN VALLEYS (CREATED WITH A MEDIUM FLAT BRUSH). THE FOREGROUND HAS HINTS OF ROCKY TERRAIN DOTTED WITH PATCHES OF GRASS  TIPS CATCHING THE MORNING LIGHT.

FOR FUN, I ADDED A LITTLE VILLAGE IN THE VALLEY WITH TOUCHES OF RAW SIENNA AND MUTED YELLOW. AT SOME POINT, I MIGHT PAINT THE VILLAGE OUT AND CHANGE THE SHAPES OF THE VALLEY CLOUDS. AS ALWAYS, WITH ACRYLIC, IT’S EASY TO MAKE CHANGES. BUT, AS OF THIS POST, THIS IS THE FINAL STAGE.

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THE JOURNEY AND THAT IT GAVE YOU SOME INSIGHTS INTO THE PAINTING PROCESS. FOR ME, IT IS QUITE OFTEN A MEANDERING EXPERIMENTATION THAT FINALLY ARRIVES IN THE VICINITY OF WHAT I ORIGINALLY INTENDED.

HAPPY PAINTING!

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s