Monday, February 29, 2016

"Molly" A Dog Portrait

"Molly" pastel dog portrait

Looking through a pile of old portraits, I came across this one of Molly the Bichon Frise.

She was a charming little dog who loved her tennis ball, so of course it had to be included in the portrait. She lived in a house with green shag carpet, a perfect backdrop for her snowy white coat. 

When I delivered the portrait, her owner seemed a bit underwhelmed (never a good sign) and sure enough, a day or two later she called to say that the portrait was not quite right; it just didn't look like Molly. I dutifully retrieved the portrait and examined the reference photo closely, and to my embarrassment realized that I had gotten Molly's head too narrow and the ears not right. 

Making corrections on a pastel portrait is fairly easy, and in no time "Molly" was looking like her real self. This time the client's enthusiasm was more genuine when I delivered the corrected portrait, and she has since told me how much she loves it. 

Sometimes one can get too close to a work of art and fail to see the flaws. I have learned to avoid this by standing back often from the easel, checking it frequently against the reference photo and looking at the work in a mirror where mistakes are more obvious. No artist, however accomplished, is immune from this myopia, so I've learned to be aware and to not flog myself when it happens. 

Thank you for stopping by. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"Cadence", A Driving Horse Pastel Portrait

"Cadence", a pastel portrait

Here is another in a series of old portraits to share with you. 

This is Cadence, a flashy Morab driving horse. The portrait was 11"x14" pastel on paper. I took the driving photos for this composite portrait at a local show but used the very nice head photo provided by the client. 

I am particularly pleased with how the eye turned out. Some day I'd like to do a larger version of Cadence with his owner/driver in a country landscape. Wouldn't that be lovely? 

At one time I had note cards available of this image. But after the horse's owner asked if I was going to split the sales of the note card with her, I decided it was time to retire the design. After figuring in the cost of producing the cards, I wasn't making much profit nor was I selling many. 

So it goes for a portrait artist. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sudan, Palomino Horse Painting

"Sudan" 24x24 inch oil painting

While I'm toiling away preparing tax stuff to send to the accountant, I've decided to share some of my older artwork and portrait work with you and share the stories behind them; good, bad and downright ugly. It should be fun. 

First up in the spotlight is "Sudan", one of the last commissioned portraits I accepted. Sudan was a nice looking palomino Arabian Quarter Horse cross gelding. His owner wanted me to depict him in his summer and winter coats since he turned much lighter in his winter woollies.

Although I got to see him in person, I didn't have my camera with me and had to rely on photos provided by the client; almost always a challenge. I was downstate visiting my elderly parents and didn't have the camera with me at the time.  

The most challenging part of the portrait was selecting the photos that were the best AND which worked together the best. Once I had the composition worked out, the painting went rather smoothly. It was delivered to the client on another downstate visit to my parents. 

 "Sudan" might not be up to my current painting standards, but it was one of my best at the time and for that deserves a bit of recognition. 

I hope you enjoy him, and thanks for stopping by. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

One Step Forward, Two steps Back

It's safe to say that I am rusty when it comes to painting. Witness the painting above. 

Last week I put in time on this painting two days in a row. On the second day, I wiped off part of what I had painted the day before. On the third day, I tried to wipe off what I'd done on Day Two, but the paint had already dried, and I was only able to get off a little bit of it. 

The "progress" you see is on the hind legs and haunches of the horse. The left side isn't too bad, but the right haunch is a different matter. I mixed three piles of reddish brown: dark, medium and a lighter version. But somehow the haunch all came out pretty much one value. 

How did that happen? I asked myself. Well, I just wasn't paying enough attention when I mixed fresh batches of each value. I will have to paint that area again. There are other corrections to make as well. 

Although I'm eager to get back to the painting, I've taken a break to give the paint plenty of time to dry before I put on another coat and also to get some progress made on income tax information for the accountant. Then I plan to set aside three whole days to do nothing but paint the horse. 

So that's where I am now; dealing with Life responsibilities before getting back to the painting. Next time you can be sure that I will mix those different values more carefully and test them out before putting paint on the canvas again. 

Sometimes it's just one step forward and two steps back. That's just the way it goes in the life of a painter.