|Bruno, 16"x16", acrylic on canvas|
Unlike my last dog painting (Smokey, the bulldog), this little guy has a lot of fur, so I got to try my hand at creating a fuzzier effect with my brushstrokes. This initial stage was just the under-painting to help me get things properly laid out on top of the drawing and decide on what direction I needed to take my brushstrokes. I just kept it loose and quick, and finished in about twenty minutes. I was trying to get an approximation of the colors I would use in the final painting, but once I was done there was a lot more brown, orange, and other colors that weren't very dominant on Bruno. I would just have to figure out the colors as I went.
I decided to tackle the eyes, nose, and mouth first, since there would be a lot of hair that would go over the snout. The viewer's eyes would be drawn to these features right away, so I figured it would be good to get them finalized early on.
Next came the body. Got a good amount of fuzziness to it, though it felt a little too dark. I decided to move forward and try to figure out a way to improve the color as I went along.
This dog looks like he's been rolling in the mud! Bruno has a unique appearance where the left side of his face has a dark patch underneath the white hairs, making it look a little thinner. I had to trust myself to go over that dark patch with white to create that look, but it was a little intimidating seeing that dark area just sitting there on his face. I also painted up the ears, which turned out to be a lot of fun blending in the dark to light colors.
It was finally time to get the rest of the face painted. It felt good to get in and tighten that area up. Once I got the white down on his snout and face, it especially started coming together. One spot of trickiness was getting the area around the eyes to have the right amount of depth. I also went back in and adjusted the eyes, reducing the amount of white and color, as it felt like they were standing out too much. One other thing I finally got a handle on was the color of his fur on the face, and I did a light brushing of that color over his body to lighten it up.
So I thought I was pretty much done with this painting, when Anne, my brilliant and observant wife, noticed that the ears were a lot fluffier in the painting than they appear in the photos I was referencing. She was right; it didn't feel like the same dog without the fur having more strands on the ears like he has on the snout. This was probably the most nerve-racking moment of the whole process, because it meant going over more of the background with the fur. If I over did it, I would have had a real challenge with redoing the background to make it blend together. Luckily, I took it slow and managed to get the right kind of brushstroke to capture those strands of fur, and it really brought the whole thing together. On top of that, it allowed me to lengthen the ears a little since they seemed a bit short, and I was inspired enough to go in and add darker highlights to the rest of Bruno to give him more depth. Some last little touch-ups around the eyes, and he was done! It was a fun challenge, and I'm pretty happy with how he came out.