Sunday, November 22, 2015

"Smokey" Commission

"Smokey," acrylic on canvas, 16x16"

This is a commissioned painting I did of a friend's bulldog named Smokey. She wanted it in black and white, based on a photograph she provided, but didn't want it to be photo-realistic. It was a nice change of pace from what I usually do, and I'm thrilled with how it turned out. I managed to take a few progress photos along the way, which you can see below.

The pre-stretched canvas I bought ended up being crooked, so I had to take the canvas off to straighten up the frame, then stretched fresh canvas over it and applied gesso to get a good painting surface. It's been years since I stretched my own canvas, but this managed to come out perfectly.

I put in the background next, then drew in Smokey using a projector to make sure it was accurate.

This is my first layer of paint put down on Smokey. It was done all in one go, and I was just trying to get the basic layout of tones I would want for him. The tricky part with this stage is having it match what I originally drew and not lose track of the features as I'm painting over everything.

I started at the bottom with the body and neck for the next stage, which was thickening and defining the features more. It was easier to stay a little loose with my painting since there weren't as many specific traits to match, and with him having shorter fur, I didn't have to worry about any curls or strands of hair to include.

The right ear was done next, followed by the left. I was kicking myself for not taking into account where the ears would go in conjunction with the darker areas of the background. I was still able to bring them out enough that they didn't get lost in the darker areas.

The top of the forehead went pretty well. I was surprised to find out that his wrinkles never change, so wanted to make sure I had them depicted correctly.

I also tackled the right eye, which was another tricky spot. Since there was so much dark on dark, it took a couple passes to get it so the eye had a clear enough shape to it. This was an area that needed more detail which would cause me to get lost in being more precise and not as loose with the painting as I had planned. Still, I wanted him to be recognizable as her dog, so went ahead of tightening up where it was necessary.

Last was the left eye and the nose and mouth. Like I said, not as many progress photos as I would have liked! The left eye was even tougher than the right eye because of its shape and placement. I had to start over several times before I was happy with it. This painting also made me appreciate the slower drying times of oil paints, because the acrylic paint was too dry to work with every time I came back to start another part. I had to do a little extra work to make the features blend together on parts that had already dried from the day before, while trying not to lose what I had finished.

After all the time I took on the left eye, the nose and mouth were a breeze by comparison. There was some wonderful texture I could work with to really bring it forward, along with some nice deep, dark shadows in his jowls.