Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chloe-mixed breed in gouache

This is Chloe. She is a mixed breed dog ( lab, husky, and ???) with the absolute sweetest personality. I met her a few weeks back when her owners brought her over so we could talk about their portrait commission and Chloe spent the time waiting patiently and obediently in my kitchen while we talked. She was very well behaved and was wonderfully cooperative when we took a few pictures for the portrait. It was so nice to work with such a well trained dog! I wanted to get photos of her in different light because though she is a mostly black dog she had some beautiful brown hairs dispersed through out her coat and around her eyes. Her owners wanted to be sure that could be seen in the painting. I also wanted to have a good strong light from one side so that there would be more depth to her black coat.

Black dogs are always a challenge to paint and it's really important to have good reference material as so much detail can be lost in a bad photo. Good, natural lighting is important. No flash!! Her owners brought several photos taken in bright sunlight and we were able to take photos in soft, semi-cloudy afternoon light which gave us some nice shadows and detail. It also brought out the warmer tones in her coat. The result of good reference and being able to see the dog in person resulted in the portrait you see here. The background color, which I apologize for it not showing up well when I photographed the painting, was just a simple flat wash in a very light, warm tone to compliment the cool colors in her coat and bring out the warm tones. My clients were thrilled which always makes my day!

Now that this commission is done I'm celebrating by taking some time to paint a few birds for fun. I have another peregrine falcon sketched out and will be putting some paint to that in a few days. Hopefully, my idea will come together and you'll get to see it here!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Maggie in a Duck Blind

"Okay, so we're in the duck blind.... now where are the ducks, Mom? I've been watchin' real close and all I've seen are a few tweety birds. Can I fetch some of those??? Oh please, oh please, oh puleezze????"

Our duck hunting season ended this weekend and poor Maggie spent another season without retrieving any ducks. This is the typical look I get from her when no birds are flying and she's bored. It's also the look I get when some have just flown in and I've entirely missed my shots and they were the only birds we saw that day. It's like "Geesh! Where did you learn to shoot and why am I out here sittin' on the cold ground with you!" But the day isn't entirely lost as long as I share my lunch with her. That usually makes up for it.

I have always enjoyed sitting in a duck blind even when there are no ducks anywhere around. It's just nice sometimes to blend in with your surroundings and go unnoticed by all the wildlife around you. There have been many times while sitting there quietly that small birds have flown in and darn near collided with me or perched very close to my head and never knew I was there unless I moved. It's a great way to observe nature! As you can see I blend in pretty well in my camo and all tucked into the grass.

So another hunting season comes to a close, but for me it's never completely done. I may not be hunting with my shotgun, but I will be using all the same skills to "hunt" with my camera. The camo gear, the blinds, the sitting quietly and observing, all come into play as I collect reference photos for my paintings. If you're out and about just be careful where you step. I may be sitting there quietly watching you!!!