Painting “James”

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IN THIS STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE, I WILL SHOW YOU HOW I CREATED “James”. 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:  24″ X 36″ CANVAS / ACRYLIC PAINT / ROUND AND FLAT BRUSHES IN SIZES SMALL TO LARGE / GLAZE / WATER PITCHER TO RINSE BRUSHES BETWEEN PAINT COLORS

STEP 1:  THE ROUGH OUTLINE

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TO START, I COVERED THE CANVAS IN WHITE GESSO AND LET IT DRY. THEN I ADDED A LAYER OF BLACK PAINT FOR THE BACKGROUND. WITH WHITE PAINT, AND A MEDIUM ROUND BRUSH, I SKETCHED A ROUGH OUTLINE OF MY COMPOSITION FOR SEVERAL REASONS:

1: IF I DON’T LIKE THE POSITIONING OF THE DOG FORM OR WALKING STICK, I CAN EXPERIMENT AND CHANGE IT BEFORE GETTING TOO FAR IN.

2:  I GET 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 EXTENDING THE ARMS – AND GIVING THE POOR DOG SOME ELBOWS. ANY WHITE LINES I NO LONGER NEED ARE PAINTED OVER WITH BLACK.

3: WHEN I’M SURE I LIKE THE BASIC COMPOSITION, IT PROVIDES A MEASURE OF CONFIDENCE TO MOVE FORWARD.

TIP:     WHEN I WAS A NEW ARTIST, THERE WERE TIMES I WAS TEMPTED TO QUIT IN THE MIDDLE OF A PAINTING BECAUSE IT WASN’T TURNING OUT THE WAY I INTENDED. WHAT I HAVE LEARNED IS, THERE ARE STAGES THAT JUST DON’T LOOK PRETTY. NOW, I PAINT THROUGH THOSE DOUBTS! MY RULE IS, I PAINT UNTIL I LIKE IT. THAT MAY MEAN PAINTING OVER SOME PARTS. OR, IT MAY MEAN FIXING LINES THAT LOOK OFF. OR, I ADD MORE COLOR OR CHANGE COLORS. IN THE END, I’M ALWAYS HAPPY I KEPT GOING. YOU WILL SEE WHAT I MEAN BY “STAGES THAT DON’T LOOK PRETTY” IN THE NEXT FEW STEPS.

STEP 2:  FOUNDATION LAYERS

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THIS IS THE FIRST OF 7-10 LAYERS OF COLOR THAT I WILL ADD ON. AT THIS STAGE, THE JACKET COLOR LOOKS FLAT – IT DOESN’T LOOK ALIVE WITH MOVEMENT AND THE REFLECTION OF LIGHT. IT IS A FOUNDATION COLOR – BACKGROUND. FOR THE PANTS, I USED BLUE AND BLACK PAINTS TO BEGIN DEFINING THE MOVEMENT OF THE PANTS WITH CROSSED LEGS.

I MIXED ULTRAMARINE BLUE WITH GLAZE TO GET A SMOOTH LOOK FOR THE PANTS. SOMETIMES, WITH ACRYLIC, THE PAINT CAN LEAVE INDIVIDUAL POCKS OF CANVAS SHOWNG. WHEN MIXED WITH GLAZE, IT SMOOTHLY COVERS THE POCKS. ONLY A LITTLE GLAZE IS NEEDED – ABOUT A QUARTER OF THE AMOUNT OF ACRYLIC PAINT USED. IF TOO MUCH GLAZE IS USED, THE COLOR BECOMES TRANSPARENT. THAT IS A TECHNIQUE I USE FOR FINISHING LAYERS, BUT NOT FOUNDATION LAYERS. FOR FOUNDATION LAYERS, I WANT FULL COVERAGE.

FOR THE VEST, I DID A CROSS-HATCHING OF SHORT PAINT STROKES IN BLUE, BLACK, AND GOLD. MORE LAYERS TO COME.

I’M NOT CONCERNED ABOUT THE DOG’S HEAD AND PAWS RIGHT NOW. I PAINTED THEM IN WITH A FOUNDATION COLOR TO CHECK THE PROPORTIONS AND TEST OUT THE CARAMEL COLOR. EVENTUALLY, IT WILL BE PAINTED OVER WITH MANY, MANY SHORT PAINT STROKES TO BUILD UP THE FUR.

STEP 3:  CREATING THE SUIT

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THE DOG FINALLY HAS ELBOWS AND I’VE FATTENED THE ARMS A BIT. EVEN THOUGH TERRIERS HAVE THIN LIMBS, IT LOOKED A BIT TOO THIN PREVIOUSLY. I AM TAKING SOME ARTISTIC LICENSE ON THE BEND OF THE ELBOW. I WANTED TO BLEND REALISTIC DOG FORM WITH HUMAN FORM.

WHILE LISTENING TO AN INSPIRATIONAL MOTIVATION VIDEO ON YOUTUBE, I HAD A LOT OF FUN BUILDING THE LAYERS AND SHEEN OF THE SUIT. FOR THE PANTS, I MIXED ULTRAMARINE BLUE WITH LIGHT BLUE VIOLET AND GLAZE TO GET HIGHLIGHTS AND ADDED IN BLACK FOR SHADOWS. MY GOAL WAS TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE VELVET, HENCE THE CREASES AT THE KNEE.

FOR THE JACKET, I ADDED GOLD TRIM WITH A SMALL, ROUND BRUSH AND ADDED BUTTONS IN THE SAME COLOR. I USED A DARK RED AND BLACK TO CREATE DIPS IN THE FABRIC AND A LIGHT RED FOR HIGHLIGHTS.

IN THE MAJORITY OF MY CANVAS PAINTINGS, I LIKE POPS OF WHITE. I DON’T KNOW WHY, IT’S JUST MY STYLE. FOR THE POPS IN THIS PAINTING, I CHOSE TO ADD WHITE FOR THE COLLAR OF HIS SHIRT AND PANT CUFFS. THE COLLAR WILL BE ALTERED.

STEP 4: PAINTING LIFE INTO JAMES

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THIS IS WHERE JAMES REALLY COMES TO LIFE FOR ME. IT’S THE EYES (OR EYE IN THIS CASE). ONCE THE EYES ARE PAINTED, HE ATTAINS A PERSONALITY. I NEVER KNOW HOW THE EYES WILL TURN OUT, OR WHAT THEY’LL EXPRESS. IT SEEMS, IN EVERY PORTRAIT, THE EYES SAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT. WHILE PEOPLE MAY READ DIFFERENT THINGS ABOUT HIS PERSONALITY, HERE’S WHO JAMES IS FOR ME:  James is a respected Terrier in his community. A dog of honor and kind service to his fellow man, he stands tall for all that is good.

HIS THICK EYEBROWS MAKE HIM SEEM LIKE A WISE, OLD GRANDFATHER. BUT, THAT IS ONLY MY INTERPRETATION. I USED FIVE COLORS TO BUILD UP HIS FUR: MEDIUM BROWN, BEIGE, RAW SIENNA, BURNT SIENNA AND WHITE. WITH WAVY STROKES OF THE PAINTBRUSH, IN VARYING LENGTHS, JAMES HAS ATTAINED BUSHY BROWS, A CLEAN CUT NECK, AND REGAL BEARD. I USED WHITE MIXED WITH GLAZE AND A SUPER THIN PAINTBRUSH FOR THE WISPY BITS OF FUR AT THE BOTTOM OF HIS BEARD.

I PAINTED THE WHITE COLLAR ABOVE THE RED LINE OF HIS JACKET. THIS SHORTENS THE LONG NECK OF THE TERRIER TO A MORE PLEASING PROPORTION AND CREATES INTEREST BETWEEN THE RED AND WHITE. IT DRAWS THE EYE IN TO HIS FACE. I WONDERED IF I SHOULD CHANGE THE WHITE OF THE PANT CUFFS, THINKING IT MIGHT DRAW THE EYE AWAY FROM HIS FACE, BUT I DECIDED I LIKED THE BALANCE IT CREATED.

JAME’S NOSE IS MORE DEFINED NOW, BUT THE HIGHLIGHTS WILL CHANGE. I’M ONLY GETTING A SENSE FOR IT’S DIMENSIONS AT THIS POINT. ON TO THE PAWS!

STEP 5: DETAILS

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JAMES’S PAWS, TAIL AND WALKING STICK ARE NOW DEFINED. THIS TOOK A LOT OF TIME, AS IT IS HUNDREDS OF INDIVIDUAL PAINT STROKES. I DON’T NOTICE THE TIME GO BY THOUGH. IT IS SO MUCH FUN TO DO THE DETAILS! I RECOMMEND PUTTING ON YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC DURING STAGES THAT ARE REPETITIVE.

I GAVE HIS FUR SHADOWS WITH BLACK, RAW SIENNA, AND BURNT SIENNA. FOR THE WALKING STICK, I WANTED IT TO LOOK GNARLED, SO I USED SHORT PAINT STROKES. IF I WANTED IT TO LOOK SMOOTH, I WOULD HAVE USED LONG PAINT STROKES, AS I DID FOR THE PANTS.

STEP 6: BACKGROUND

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IN THE “ROSE MILL COTTAGE” BLOG POST, I RECOMMENDED PAINTING IN THE BACKGROUND EARLY ON. IN THIS CASE, I DID THE OPPOSITE. HERE’S WHY: I HAD ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO LEAVE THE BACKGROUND BLACK. BUT, AFTER I HAD PAINTED JAMES, I FELT THE CHARACTER CALLED FOR A MORE ELEGANT BACKDROP. SO, I PAINTED THE BACKGROUND TO LOOK LIKE HE WAS STANDING IN FRONT OF (AND ON) A STUDIO SET CLOTH. THE PARTIAL BLACK OUTLINE OF HIS LOWER BODY GIVES THE LOOK OF A SHADOW WHERE THE STUDIO LIGHTS ARE NOT ENTERING.

I HAVE DEBATED WHETHER I SHOULD CHANGE IT BACK TO BLACK OR ALTER IT COMPLETELY TO LOOK LIKE JAMES IS STANDING IN AN ELEGANT GARDEN. THE GREAT THING ABOUT ACRYLIC IS, IT CAN BE CHANGED.

I HOPE MY EXPERIMENTATIONS HAVE INSPIRED YOU! HAPPY PAINTING!

 

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Updated – Work-In-Progress: Horse & Hounds

See the humble beginnings of this painting below!

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It’s been just over a week since I began this painting on 48″ x 60″ canvas. It’s a third of the way complete. Or thereabouts. Here’s a peek at it’s simple beginnings:

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I based the horse on the previous painting of Ralphie and now I’m expanding the idea to include an English countryside and variety of dog breeds. Progress has been slower than usual because I want to get the forms as spot on as possible. I painted the horse eyes around seven times! Something about them was off and I couldn’t put my finger on it. She just looked… surprised. Take a look at the before and after:

Before

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After

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By lowering the eye lids, darkening the color and shrinking the pupil, the eyes have a more relaxed, natural look. I always paint until I like it. Whether that means re-painting something two times or twenty.

Looking forward to sharing with you the complete painting!

Painting “Ralphie”

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“Ralphie”

HELLO! THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON THIS ADVENTURE OF CREATING “RALPHIE”.

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. 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

CANVAS:  36″ X 48″

ACRYLIC PAINT (LIQUITEX BASICS):   BURNT SIENNA – RAW SIENNA – LIGHT BLUE VIOLET – COBALT BLUE – THALO GREEN – HOOKER’S GREEN – TITANIUM WHITE – BLACK – NAPLES YELLOW

OIL PAINT (WINSOR & NEWTON):  TITANIUM WHITE

BRUSHES (M. GRUMBACHER, LOEW-CORNELL, ROYAL, PRO ARTE, ROBERT SIMMONS):  ROUND AND FLAT IN SIZES SMALL TO LARGE

MEDIUMS (LIQUITEX):  GLAZE / SLOW-DRI MEDIUM

EQUIPMENT:  WATER PITCHER AND PAPER TOWELS TO RINSE BRUSHES BETWEEN PAINT COLORS / PALETTE / EASEL

STEP 1:  THE ROUGH OUTLINE

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WHEN I BEGIN, THERE ARE USUALLY TWO PATHS TO DECIDE BETWEEN. I CAN EITHER PAINT IN THE BACKGROUND FIRST, THEN THE HORSE. OR, PAINT IN THE HORSE, THEN THE BACKGROUND. IN THIS CASE, I ALTERNATED BETWEEN BOTH THROUGHOUT THE PAINTING.

WITH A MEDIUM ROUND BRUSH, I SKETCHED A ROUGH OUTLINE OF THE HORSE TO GET THE PROPORTIONS AND FORM MOSTLY RIGHT. I DON’T GET TOO FUSSY AT THIS STAGE. I JUST WANT TO STAKE OUT WHERE THE HORSE WILL INHABIT ON THE CANVAS.  THE LINES COULD HAVE BEEN MORE ANATOMICALLY CORRECT HERE, BUT I HAD AN ADORABLY CURIOUS CAT ON MY LAP KEEPING ME AN ARM’S LENGTH AWAY FROM THE CANVAS:

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WHEN HE FINALLY VACATED MY LAP TO CHASE AFTER ONE OF HIS FAVORITE PAINT BRUSHES, I GOT TO WORK ON STEP TWO.

STEP 2: FILLING IN THE FORM

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I FILLED IN THE FORM WITH A FOUNDATION LAYER OF BURNT SIENNA  AND BLACK AS A MARKER TO MYSELF OF WHICH LINES I WAS GOING TO KEEP. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE HORSE’S FORM WILL BE MADE THROUGHOUT THE PAINTING (SUCH AS ELONGATING THE FRONT LEG).

AT THIS STAGE, I’VE ALSO BEGUN TO MARK OUT WHERE SOME OF THE SHADOWS AND HIGHLIGHTS WILL BE.

STEP 3: FOUNDATION LAYERS

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BEFORE GETTING TOO DETAILED WITH THE HORSE, I PAINTED IN A FOUNDATION LAYER FOR THE SKY. AT THIS STAGE, IT DOESN’T MATTER IF I PAINT OVER THE EDGES OF THE HORSE. IT IS ONLY A FOUNDATION LAYER OF BURNT SIENNA AND I WILL BE ADDING MULTIPLE LAYERS OF PAINT TO BUILD UP THE COAT AND MAKE IT LOOK SMOOTH.

FOR THE SKY, I MIXED LIGHT BLUE VIOLET WITH TITANIUM WHITE TO GET A LIGHTER, DAY BLUE. USING A LARGE FLAT BRUSH, I PAINTED LEFT TO RIGHT AND MADE SURE TO BLEND OUT ANY LINES THAT HAD A BUILD UP OF PAINT.

THIS BASIC LAYER OF CLOUDS WERE PAINTED WITH WHITE ACRYLIC AND A MEDIUM ROUND BRUSH. LATER, I WILL GO OVER THEM WITH WHITE OIL PAINT TO GIVE THEM A FLUFFY LOOK. I MIXED TWO BATCHES OF WHITE OIL PAINT. ONE WITH A DOT OF RED TO GET A SOFT PINK HUE, AND THE OTHER WITH A DOT OF YELLOW. IT IS VERY SUBTLE, BUT IN THE FINISHED PAINTING, THE CLOUDS IN THE TOP RIGHT HAVE MORE COLOR, AND THEREFORE LOOK CLOSER.

STEP 4: REDEFINING THE FORM

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WITH A MEDIUM FLAT BRUSH, I PAINTED IN THE GROUND IN A SOLID BLACK. I DIDN’T ORIGINALLY HAVE PLANS TO PAINT IN A BAY, BUT THIS IS WHERE MY PAINTBRUSH STOPPED AND I LIKED THE LOOK OF IT. LATER, I WILL MIX COBALT BLUE AND TITANIUM WHITE FOR THE WATER.

THE HORSE IS WELL DEFINED NOW, BUT THE FORM IS STILL IN FLUX. I WILL MAKE SMALL ADJUSTMENTS THROUGHOUT THE PAINTING. AT THIS STAGE, MY FOCUS IS ON ADDING A FEW MORE LAYERS OF BURNT SIENNA AND BLACK BECAUSE PAINT LINES ARE STILL VISIBLE.

FOR THE EDGES, I USED A MEDIUM ROUND BRUSH WITH A LITTLE BLACK PAINT. THEN I BLENDED IT INWARD WITH BURNT SIENNA. THE SHADOWS AND HIGHLIGHTS ARE BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE. I MIXED BURNT SIENNA WITH RAW SIENNA FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS AND ADDED A FEW DROPS OF GLAZE.

I’VE BEGUN TO PLAY WITH THE MOVEMENT OF THE HORSE’S TAIL AS IT TROTS. THAT WILL BE THE LAST THING TO BE PAINTED.

STEP 5: HIGHLIGHT & SHADOW FOUNDATIONS

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OKAY, SO SHE LOOKS A BIT SCARY AT THIS STAGE! IF IT WERE A HALLOWEEN PAINTING, I’D STOP HERE. BUT THERE IS A PURPOSE FOR THIS SINEWY STAGE. IT IS A FOUNDATION LAYER FOR THE BONE AND MUSCLE STRUCTURE.

FROM HERE, I WILL USE A MIXTURE OF BURNT SIENNA, RAW SIENNA, AND GLAZE TO GIVE THE MUSCLES AND BONES A NATURAL LOOK. I LIKE THE WAY PAINT MIXED WITH GLAZE ADDS COLOR AND HIGHLIGHTS WITHOUT ENTIRELY PAINTING OVER THE PREVIOUS LAYERS. THE UNDER LAYERS CAN STILL BE SEEN IN THE FINAL PAINTING.

I’VE BEGUN TO PLAY WITH THE FORM OF THE MANE, BUT IT IS A BIT FLAT HERE. I WILL ADD MORE BODY AND MOVEMENT LATER ON. IF YOU’RE WONDERING WHAT THE SILVER IN THE HAIR IS FOR, I WAS TESTING OUT THE COLOR FOR HIGHLIGHTS AND DETERMINED I NEEDED MUCH LESS OF IT. EVENTUALLY, I USED WHITE MIXED WITH GLAZE FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS.

STEP 6: DETAILS

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WHEN I PAINT ANIMALS, AND THE EYES ARE FINALLY DONE, I GIVE THE ANIMAL A NAME. “RALPHIE” POPPED INTO MY HEAD AND IT SEEMED TO SUIT HER.

THE SINEWY BONE AND MUSCLE STRUCTURE HAS BEEN SOFTENED WITH FOUR OR FIVE LAYERS OF GLAZE MIXED WITH BURNT SIENNA & RAW SIENNA AND NAPLES YELLOW & ORANGE FOR THE MORE PRONOUNCED HIGHLIGHTS. FOR THE HOOVES, I USED WHITE MIXED WITH GLAZE TO BRING THEM OUT OF THE SHADOWS.

THE DISTANT GROUND IS BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE. I MIXED THALO GREEN AND NAPLES YELLOW FOR THE BAY AREA.

STEP 7: CLEANING EDGES

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ONCE RALPHIE AND THE BACKGROUND WERE COMPLETE, I BEGAN TO CLEAN UP ANY SMUDGES OR STRAY PAINT LINES. SOMETIMES THIS REQUIRED MIXING PAINT TO PAINT IN A PORTION OF THE SKY OR LAND. BUT MOST OF THE WORK OF CLEANING UP WAS ON THE MANE AND TAIL. WHEN I’M PAINTING FORM, I DON’T CONCERN MYSELF WITH MESSY EDGES. I CAN ALWAYS GO BACK LATER AND PAINT OVER THE STRAY MARKS, AS SEEN BELOW.

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ONCE THE EDGES WERE CLEAN, I USED THE SAME SMALL, ROUND BRUSH AS SEEN IN THESE PICTURES TO PAINT INDIVIDUAL STRANDS OF HORSEHAIR. I PRESSED MY FINGER AGAINST THE CANVAS TO STEADY MY HAND, BUT IT WAS PICKING UP WHITE OIL PAINT. WHEN WORKING WITH OIL PAINT, I HAVE TO TAKE CARE TO NOT ACCIDENTALLY SPREAD IT ONTO TO REST OF THE PAINTING. ACRYLIC DRYS VERY FAST, SO I’M USED TO TOUCHING THE CANVAS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER I’VE PAINTED.

STEP 8: LAST STAGE CHANGES

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“Ralphie”

I STEPPED BACK TO MAKE SURE ALL PARTS OF THE COMPOSITION WORKED WELL TOGETHER AND FOUND THE GREEN IN THE BACKGROUND TOO DISTRACTING. I DECIDED TO MUTE IT WITH A MIXTURE OF HOOKER’S GREEN AND GLAZE. I ALSO CORRECTED THE HORIZON LINE AND ADJUSTED THE SHAPE OF A FEW CLOUDS. THEN, SHE WAS READY. I HUNG HER PORTRAIT OVER THE FIREPLACE AND SHE HAS QUITE A STATELY, FRIENDLY PRESENCE IN THE ROOM.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME ON THIS ADVENTURE OF CREATING “RALPHIE”. I HOPE MY PROCESS HAS INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR OWN ANIMAL PORTRAIT.

 

Fine art prints and products featuring “Ralphie” can be found at:  http://fineartamerica.com/featured/ralphie-l-w-turek.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting “Mediterranean Door”

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IN THIS STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE, I WILL SHOW YOU HOW I CREATED “MEDITERRANEAN DOOR”.

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:  11 X 14 CANVAS / ACRYLIC PAINT / ROUND AND FLAT BRUSHES IN SIZES SMALL TO MEDIUM / GESSO / WATER PITCHER TO RINSE BRUSHES BETWEEN PAINT COLORS / PAINT COLORS: ULTRAMARINE BLUE, METALLIC COBALT BLUE, NAPLES YELLOW, RAW SIENNA, BURNT SIENNA, HOOKER’S GREEN, EMERALD GREEN, AQUA GREEN, DARK VIOLET, LIGHT VIOLET, BLACK, WHITE

STEP 1:  THE BACKGROUND

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IN PREVIOUS PAINTING BLOG POSTS I BEGAN THE COMPOSITION WITH AN OUTLINE OF THE MAIN SUBJECT IN BLACK OR WHITE PAINT. HERE, I’VE GONE STRAIGHT INTO THE BACKGROUND LAYER OF COLOR (OVER A LAYER OF GESSO). THE REASON IS, THERE IS LESS TO CONSIDER ABOUT THE MAIN SUBJECT AS FAR AS PROPORTION AND DETAILS.

I KNEW I WANTED TO PAINT A DOOR SURROUNDED BY FLOWERS. INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON THE STRAIGHTNESS OF LINES AT THIS POINT, I’M THINKING ABOUT THE COLORING OF STONES AND WHERE THE LIGHT WILL HIT. THE STONES ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE DOOR ARE A DARK GRAY. THAT IS WHERE I PLAN ON PAINTING A ROSE VINE, WHICH WILL CAST SHADE OVER THE STONES. THE STONES ON THE LEFT ARE LIGHT GRAY, AND WILL CATCH THE SUNLIGHT.

I USED THE SAME MEDIUM FLAT BRUSH FOR THIS LAYER, RINSING THE BRUSH BETWEEN COLORS AND DRYING IT ON PAPER TOWELS. IF YOU WANT A THINNER LINE WITHOUT HAVING TO CHANGE BRUSHES, TURN THE MEDIUM BRUSH SIDEWAYS.

STEP 2:  EXPERIMENTATION

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I’M EXPERIMENTING WITH THE COLOR AND SIZE OF THE STONE’S HERE. I’VE NOTICED THE STONES ARE A BIT ANGLED ON THE LEFT SIDE. IT’S AN EASY FIX. I’LL GO IN WITH A THIN BRUSH AND BLACK PAINT TO MAKE STRAIGHT LINES ON TOP OF EACH STONE. IT IS SOMETHING I WOULD HAVE DONE ANYWAY TO CREATE A LOOK OF DEPTH AND SHADOW BETWEEN STONES.

I’VE GIVEN THE DOOR A BASIC FRAME THAT I WILL BUILD UP WITH SEVERAL LAYERS OF COLOR AND DETAIL TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE WOOD. I WAS DEBATING WHETHER THE WOOD SHOULD BE WHITEWASHED OR NATURAL. I STARTED WITH WHITEWASHED TO SEE HOW IT LOOKS, BUT WILL EVENTUALLY CHANGE IT TO CREATE CONTRAST WITH THE WHITE STONES.

FOR THE DOOR COLOR, I USED A COMBINATION OF ULTRAMARINE BLUE, METALLIC COBALT BLUE, AND TOUCHES OF WHITE. WITH A FLAT MEDIUM BRUSH, I WORKED QUICKLY WITH THE WET PAINT TO GET THE STRAIGHT LINES OF VARYING COLOR. IF IT BLENDS TOO MUCH AND LOOKS LIKE ONE FLAT COLOR, I GO IN WITH A SMALL ROUND BRUSH AND ADD LINES OF DARK AND LIGHT COLOR UNTIL I GET THE VARIANCE I WANT.

STEP 3:  ADDING GREENERY

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THE STONES ON THE RIGHT ARE NOW JUST A HINT OF COLOR AND SHAPE. FOR THE STONES ON THE LEFT, I USED A SPOTTING TECHNIQUE WITH A SMALL, ROUND BRUSH AND GRAY PAINT TO MUDDLE THE BLACK LINES AND GIVE THE STONES A SENSE OF TEXTURE. 

PAINTING IN THE GREENERY WAS SO MUCH FUN. THIS IS WHERE IT ALL COMES TO LIFE. WITH A DEERFOOT STIPPLER BRUSH (IT HAS OVAL-EDGED BRISTLES THAT RESEMBLE THE SHAPE OF A DEER FOOT), I CREATED THE FIRST LAYER OF FOLIAGE WITH BLACK PAINT TO CREATE BACKGROUND SHADOW AND SHAPE FOR A SENSE OF DEPTH. I THEN USED THE HOOKER’S GREEN AND THE SIDE OF THE BRUSH TO DAB THE COLOR INTO THE SHAPE OF HANGING BRANCHES. LATER, I WILL USE A BRIGHTER AQUA GREEN TO CREATE HIGHLIGHTS.

I’VE PAINTED IN THE FOUNDATION LAYER FOR THE WINDOW AND CREATED AN ANTIQUE DOOR HANDLE WITH A THIN ROUND BRUSH. THE DOOR FRAME HAS BEEN CHANGED TO A GNARLED WOOD LOOK. FOR THIS, I USED THE SAME BRUSH AND WAVY STROKES. THE COLORS FOR THE WOOD INCLUDE: NAPLES YELLOW, RAW SIENNA, BURNT SIENNA AND BROWN.

STEP 4:  THE STONE STEP

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SOME OF YOU MAY BE WONDERING WHY I DIDN’T PAINT THE STONE STEP WITH A STRAIGHT EDGE. IT’S A PERSONAL REASON. I LIVED IN EUROPE FOR A TIME AND WAS FASCINATED WITH LIMESTONE STEPS THAT WERE HUNDREDS OF YEARS OLD. THEY WERE SHINY AND WORN DOWN IN PLACES WHERE PEOPLE HAD STEPPED REPEATEDLY OVER THE CENTURIES. IT’S A HISTORIC CHARM I WANTED TO ADD IN MY PAINTING.

STEP 5:  DETAILS

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IT IS THE FINAL LAYERS OF COLOR THAT ARE THE MOST FUN FOR ME. I LOVE DECIDING WHERE THE LIGHT IS GOING TO BRIGHTEN THINGS UP. FOR THE LAVENDER FLOWERS, I USED THREE COLORS IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER: PLUM, MAGENTA AND LIGHT MAGENTA. I ALWAYS PAINT THE DARKEST COLOR FIRST, THEN ADD SMALLER AMOUNTS OF THE LIGHTER COLORS.

THE ROSES ARE A MIX OF NAPLES YELLOW AND WHITE. FOR SMALL, BUDDING ROSES, I JUST GAVE THE CANVAS A DOT OF PAINT WITH A SMALL, ROUND BRUSH. FOR THE LARGER ROSES, I USED THE SAME BRUSH AND MADE FOUR DOTS TO GIVE THE IMPRESSION OF PETALS.

STEP 6:  THE FIX

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I HAD SO MUCH FUN PAINTING IN THE ROSES THAT I PAINTED TOO MANY OF THEM! THE COMPOSITION FELT TOO HEAVY ON ONE SIDE. SO I WENT BACK IN WITH THE DEERFOOT STIPPLER AND BLACK PAINT TO PAINT OUT SECTIONS OF ROSES. I THEN ADDED IN THE GREEN HIGHLIGHTS AND CAME TO THE FINAL STAGE SHOWN AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE.

I HOPE MY WANDERINGS THROUGH THE PAINTING PROCESS HAVE INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR OWN PAINTING. THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!

Photography: Leading Lines

(All photos are my own)

LEADING LINES GUIDE THE EYE TO A SPECIFIC POINT, OR OBJECT, IN A PHOTO. THERE ARE MANY INTERESTING WAYS TO UTILIZE LINES. THE MOST WELL KNOWN EXAMPLE OF THIS, IN MY OPINION, IS A SET OF RAILROAD TRACKS LEADING STRAIGHT AHEAD TO A VANISHING POINT. BELOW ARE TWO EXAMPLES OF VANISHING POINT. THIS TECHNIQUE GIVES THE FEELING YOU ARE STANDING IN THE PHOTO LOOKING AHEAD. THE PATHS GUIDE YOUR EYE DEEPER INTO THE PHOTO.

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     (PHOTO TAKEN IN MALTA, EUROPE)

THE PHOTO OF A MALTESE KAROZZIN (PRONOUNCED CARE-O-SEEN) LURES THE EYE TO THE CURVE AT THE END OF THE STREET, CREATING INTEREST IN WONDERING WHAT’S AROUND THE CORNER.DSC_0313

(PHOTO TAKEN IN CUMBRIA, ENGLAND)

THE LONG PATH ALONG CAT BELLS FELL VANISHES AT THE PEAK. IN THIS PHOTO AND THE PHOTO OF THE KAROZZIN, THE LINES ARE LEADING TO A POINT, NOT A SUBJECT. A STRONGER USE OF LEADING LINES WOULD GUIDE THE EYE TO A SUBJECT OF INTEREST, AS SEEN IN THE PHOTOS BELOW.

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(PHOTO TAKEN IN COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND)

IN THE COTTAGE PHOTO, ALL LINES IN THE LOWER HALF ARE GUIDING THE EYE UPWARD TO THE GREEN GATE AND THE COTTAGE BEYOND. THESE LINES INCLUDE THE MAIN PATH, THE GREEN GRASS LINES AND THE STONE WALLS. MULTIPLE LINES CAN CONFUSE THE EYE, BUT IN THIS CASE, THEY ARE ALL LEADING TO A CENTRAL POINT.

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         (PHOTO TAKEN IN MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND)

THE PHOTO OF THE SNOW LINED VINEYARD IS A MORE STRAIGHTFORWARD EXAMPLE OF LEADING LINES. THE STRONG CONTRAST OF DARK AND LIGHT LINES DRAW THE EYE TO THE BASE OF THE CHURCH, WHICH THEN GUIDES THE EYE TO THE STEEPLE. IN THIS PHOTO AND THE COTTAGE PHOTO, THE EYE IS TRAVELING UP AND DOWN. YOU CAN USE LEADING LINES TO GUIDE THE EYE HORIZONTALLY AS WELL, AS SEEN IN THE NEXT PHOTO.

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(PHOTO TAKEN IN MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND)

THIS IS NOT THE MOST WELL KNOWN ANGLE OF CHATEAU DE CHILLON. BUT, AS I WALKED THE PATH BEHIND THE CASTLE, THIS COMPOSITION CAUGHT MY EYE. THERE ARE SEVERAL LINES LEADING TO THE STRIKING STONE STRUCTURE: THE SNOW PACKED BUSH IN THE FOREGROUND, THE WATER LINE JUST ABOVE IT, AND THE MOUNTAINS EXTENDING BEHIND THE CASTLE. THESE HORIZONTAL LINES SANDWICH CHILLON, MAKING IT THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE PHOTO. THE MOUNTAIN LINE EVEN EXTENDS UPWARD IN JUST THE RIGHT PLACE TO GUIDE THE EYE ALONG THE STEP-LIKE STONE OUTCROPS,  WHICH IN TURN, LEAD THE EYE TO THE TURRETS AND CHIMNEYS.

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(PHOTO TAKEN IN ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND)

THE LEADING LINES IN THIS PHOTO CROSS THE FRAME DIAGONALLY. BOTH THE WOODEN FENCE LINE AND IT’S SHADOW ARE GUIDING THE EYE TO THE FANCIFULLY DRESSED HORSE AND SLEIGH.

THE NEXT TWO PHOTOS ARE EXAMPLES OF USING EXISTING CURVED LINES TO DRAW A PATH TO THE MAIN SUBJECT.

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(PHOTOS TAKEN IN CUMBRIA, ENGLAND)

I WAS USING THE STONE WALLS TO GUIDE THE EYE TO SOMETHING UNUSUAL: A TREE WITH A GAPING HOLE LARGE ENOUGH TO HOUSE A SMALL ANIMAL, AND A TRULY TINY BRIDGE HOUSE THAT IS SAID TO HAVE ONCE HOUSED A FAMILY OF EIGHT (THE FULL, FASCINATING STORY OF THIS HOUSE IS ON THE VISIT CUMBRIA WEBSITE: http://www.visitcumbria.com/amb/bridge-house/).

ON YOUR NEXT PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE, LOOK FOR EXISTING LINES THAT CREATE A PATH TO YOUR SUBJECT. I LIKE TO EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT ANGLES AND TAKE NUMEROUS PHOTOS OF THE SAME SCENE / SUBJECT. I USUALLY TAKE 5 – 10 PHOTOS OF THE SAME SUBJECT. IT HELPS TO GET THAT ONE GREAT SHOT.

Painting “Rose Mill Cottage”

Acrylic on Canvas

Rose Mill Cottage

In this step-by-step guide, I will show you how I created Rose Mill Cottage. I am self-taught. Which means, 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:  12″ x 16″ canvas / acrylic paint / round and flat brushes of varying size / glaze 

STEP 1:  The Rough Outline

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With black paint and a small round brush, I sketched a rough outline of my composition for several reasons:

1: If I don’t like the positioning of the cottage or animals, I can experiment and change it before getting too far in.

2:  I get the proportions right early, so that I can focus on colors and shading later.

3: It helps to get the perspective (or point of view) right for all parts of the painting.

4: When you’re sure you like the basic composition, it provides a measure of confidence to move forward.

Eventually, I decided to paint out one of the sheep in the foreground and replaced it with three sheep in the background to give it a sense of depth.

I used black paint to do this sketch, but if you’re doing a watercolor painting on paper, pencil works best. The pencil will show through watercolor, so use it softly and erase any unwanted lines. 

TIP:     When I was a new artist, there were times I was tempted to quit in the middle of a painting because it wasn’t turning out the way I wanted. And, there are stages that just don’t look pretty. But keep painting! My rule is, I paint until I like it. That may mean painting over some parts. Or, it may mean fixing lines that look off. Or, I add more color or change the colors of objects. Just keep painting! In the end, I’m always happy I kept going. You will see what I mean by “stages that don’t look pretty” in the next few steps.

STEP 2:  Experimentation

 

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I experimented with adding in a chimney at different angles and a house in the background, but liked neither. It felt overcomplicated for a small painting, and I wanted to keep it simple and focused on the geese that are taking shape in the foreground. I also began painting in the gray foundation of the bridge and cottage. From this point, I will build layers of color.

The great thing about acrylic paint is, you can paint over what you don’t like or a line that went awry. If it’s a thinner paint, it may take a few layers to completely cover it.

STEP 3:  Painting In The Background And Foreground

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I began with painting in the sky because I wanted a smooth look extending behind the cottage. If I were to paint in the cottage first, then the sky, I would get a mottled sky look near the edge of the cottage where my paint brush stops. For this reason, I also painted the river before the bridge. It’s okay that the paint laps over the original sketch because I will go over it with several colors to create the roof and bridge.

I used several shades for the sky and river to give it variation and depth. I also added shadow under the bridge. I used a flat, wide brush to create the background layers for the sky and river. Sometimes I add in a little glaze so the paint will run smoothly and cover more canvas. I then used a medium round brush to create the clouds, distant lines of blue and lavender, and water ripples.

At this point, I was also bringing the water wheel into sharper form. Eventually, I would decide to add in distant hills where the outline of the sheep shows through the yellow horizon.

STEP 4: Building Up The Main Character

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This is the stage where the painting really starts to come to life for me and I start dreaming about where the rose vine will climb. After I painted in the foundation colors for the cottage, hills, and bridge, I began layering colors for highlights and shadows. I used a small round brush for this work. I kept the strokes broken to give it a soft look. For the roof tiles, I used a medium, flat brush. You’ll notice there are white and black spots that I didn’t paint in. I left it to remind myself where I wanted to paint in the animals. 

STEP 5: Painting The Animals

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At this point, there is just one more goose to paint in on the bridge with a small, round brush. To paint animals, I always start with a base layer of one neutral color, then build in the details with layers of varying color, highlights, and shadows.

STEP 6: Details

Acrylic on Canvas

Rose Mill Cottage

My favorite stage is the details. The very last stage. I get to add in whimsical touches like the rose vine, water fall, sparkling light through the window, touches of light on the roof, and under the gabled entry. I also added in distant sheep to give the painting more depth and interest, other than just the action around the geese. You may have noticed I painted over the yellow horizon with a flat blue. The yellow was conflicting with the light greens and yellows of the hills. Also, the yellow paint lines were a little crooked. In this final stage, I added in the wheel supports and defined the bridge stones. 

I hope this has sparked interest within you to create your own painting. Don’t worry about making mistakes. With acrylic, you can always paint them out. Have fun with it!