Friday, 19 February 2016

 The good Dog. 
My very first painted pet portrait.

Kensei, detail

I made a drawing of Madiba for Hugh in 2014, and ever since he's been telling me that I'm going to do another of his dog, Kensei. Late last year I noticed that he started referring to the 'painting' I was going to make of Kensei, and tried to convince him otherwise, but to no avail.
You see the prospect of painting fur is fantastically terrifying. I don't have much experience with portraiture, I'm not 100% comfortable there yet, even though I love love love it. Also details are MUCH easier in pencil! And dogs are made of details. And like love and friendship and moist noses and sunshine.. but I digress.

Since facebook became the place you share less-than-motivational posters of minions and videos of puppies, I had started following more and more artists from around the world. (and unfollowing people I went to high school with, but would not stop to chat with in a surprise grocery store encounter) And I have been inspired daily by unbelievable techniques, so many examples of greatness. And it's hard to not let SOME of that seep into your brain :P

I was most inspired recently by these two painters: 
David Kassan - have a look and 
Jennifer Balkan - look! 
David for his gradual building up of layer on layer of colour, and Jennifer for her pastel tones and strokes. Now you will no doubt see nothing of their work in Kensei, because I can't be them, they are masters. I was simply mindful of their work. And that made such a difference in this portrait! 

Have some In Progress shots: (looks like he's wearing a tie!)

Found the shape then:

And the completed painting: 

Kensei  |  60 x 45.5 cm  |  Acrylic on Canvas
I'm so very proud of this painting. The kind of proud that's frowned upon. People sometimes forget that pride isn't always a sin; I mean satisfied, fulfilled, rewarded, delighted.

Because I got to try a new thing. I layered tones with fur-like strokes, instead of trying for individual hairs. I got layers of blues and oranges in without making it look like a child coloured it in. I left the left side loose - I usually don't have the guts to do that. For the most part I used a mix of Windsor Blue and Burnt Umber instead of black. In sunlight the part around my signature that runs up to his ear, and details in his folds and around his eye is Violet. And I did something I learned from Heather Horton blogs, I was a mindful painter. Think twice, apply brush once. In so doing I finished this painting in a week and a half, which just about halves my usual time.
Also: experimenting and learning is super invigorating. I actively enjoyed every second of this. I had daily moments where I'd catch myself thinking 'I shouldn't be enjoying this so much'. 
I had so much fun, that yesterday when I only had to darken a fold and then I'd be finished, I ended up working for 5 more hours. I had to force myself to stop. 

Having completed my 2015 commissions in January, this is strictly speaking my first painting of 2016. What a wonderful start.

Special thanks to Hugh for not allowing be to draw this. I would've missed out on so much.
Here's a look at his Madiba in case you were too lazy to click on the linky:

Detail from Hugh's Madiba | 525 x 380 mm
Pencil on 160 gsm paper

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