Friday, April 29, 2011

Portrait Marathon: Return to LOTTIE

EDIT!!  Huge apologies to Nancy and Lottie for my brain-freeze!!  Somehow, I got Lottie's name switched up in my head while I wrote this.  I've now corrected it!  :P

Okay, that was quite a break, considering this supposed to be a non-stop marathon!

I'm starting from this happy photo of Lottie smiling for the camera in the sunshine (one in a very funny series where her brother was stalking her as she posed, all unaware, then pounced her, with predictable results!  LOL!):

I started by transferring my drawing to the canvas, which turned out to be harder than usual, which took me awhile to figure out.  Usually, I use a piece of transfer paper, and draw over my sketch using it like old-fashioned carbon paper.  The graphite on the transfer paper comes off a little messily onto the canvas, I tune up the drawing with a sharp pencil, clean up the smeary places, and off I go.  But, it just wasn't transferring!  I repeated it with new transfer paper (you can re-use transfer paper quite a bit before it's lost too much graphite to work).  No better!  I did that again, trying to be very careful, and really bear down.  Nope.  I realized this particular canvas seemed pretty rough.  I used to sand and re-prime them all, but I kind of got to like the texture, so I don't always do that anymore. I decided I needed to do that on this one because it was like trying to do a nice sketch on a stucco building!

So, sanded, primed, dried, successfully transferred, and cleaned up.  I had read recently that some artists like to wash a thin layer of gesso over their sketch to keep the pencil or graphite (or charcoal or whatever) from smearing into the paint.  Brilliant!  I tried it, and it was like dipping it in milk.  Just enough to fix the graphite without obscuring the light sketch.  Looks about like this:
That worked pretty well!  I'll have to keep that in my bag of tricks.

Looking at my reference photo, I decided to give the whole painting a wash of sunny yellow, dog and all.  That will give the whole painting a sense of being washed in warm summer sunlight.  Then I washed on some green, mixed from the leftover yellow and blue, for the grassy background, keeping it most dense down in front, and fading it as it moves back away from us, to give some perspective.  I started working on the underpainting, the darks, next, using Payne's grey.  I started off very timidly, because ... well, I had broken my stride by leaving this sit for awhile, and that always makes me timid.  Like I'm painting on someone else's painting or something.  It's an odd feeling.

I tried using the glazing medium with the Payne's, but it was too snotty and too dilute, so once I got my nerve back a bit, I just used water to dilute the grey, and that was much easier to control.  After I got most of the shading and marking about how I wanted, I washed over most areas, including the grass, with a bright orange, to neutralize the green a bit (it was ... vivid!), and to establish the wonderful reds in Lottie's coat.  That's about where I am right now.

It's going to be fun, going in with some light-light areas to pull up Lottie's sun-lit face and lighter areas of fur.  That will be a big jump from this state.  I'll probably do that next.

Edited to add: Bailey's humans have been so generous with their complements!  I'm so pleased you guys are happy with the portrait, Eliza and David!  The framing is wonderful.  Really suits her regal and thoughtful mood.

Thanks again for participating in this marathon, and for the chance to paint her loveliness.

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