Monday, June 27, 2011

Mystery Silken in progress

Work in progress
silken windhound
©Xan Blackburn, 2011
I'm bummed!  I thought I'd taken a scan of the painting on Friday, but I guess not.  Well, you'll just have to look at it as it is now!

The underpainting was pretty much set in Payne's gray by Friday, so today I started in on the color in the dog proper (occasionally zipping outside to adjust the background to suit the developing dog.  There will still be work to do in the background: it will need to be lightened up, particularly towards the edge of the grass along the dark foliage, and in a vertical band below the center of the dog.  It seems to have gotten a little muddy in there.  Some individual blades of grass might have to be added zipping off in odd directions to break up the uniformity, and some will be stroked in in front of the dog's feet once I'm happy with them, as well.  The dark foliage is still a little monochromatic, so I'll probably throw in some umber or reddish browns.

But let's talk dog.  At this size, you could almost think this painting is done, but there's much to do, yet.  The underpainting gave me a good foundation, all the shady areas or dark markings established, and the pale yellow giving it all a sun-soaked warmth.  Today's work went into beginning to develop the texture of the fur, mostly.  The longer, more flowing areas on the throat, fringing the front legs, in the tuck and along the backs of the thighs needed to be defined with glowing warm whites, shading into the cooler areas, but also allowing the ruddier tones in the fur to come in.  I'm liking how that's working, so far, with more to go.  There is an area along the lower rear ribs that got too ruddy, but I think building up the tawnier tones on top of that will look great in the end.  The reflected light coming up into the inner thighs and chest region are really a rewarding challenge.  I wasn't quite sure how to handle them, consciously, so I just sort of let my eye and hand work together without consulting my brain so much.

The fringes that interact with the background are a give and take of positive and negative space, working both from the fur out, and then back in with the background to define the hairs where I want them to be clear.  Clear vs. fuzzy is also a consideration.  I don't necessarily want the same level of focus throughout the dog, as that becomes distracting, as your eye darts all around taking in detail, rather than seeing the effect of the whole.  It's just how our brains work.  It's hard to remember when my own eyes and brain are 4" from the painting, seeing it in individual hairs, rather than as a dog, much less a dog running through a field, but that's why we have back pain: to make us stretch and stand back for perspective now and then!

So, this should give you plenty of visual cues to guess who this dog is, if you happen to know him or her.  Anyone want to hazard a new round of guesses?

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