Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Moving On

First of all, because it's the biggest thing in my life right now, and because my life and my art really aren't easy to separate, I have to say that Wabi, my sweet, curly, snake-neck, goat-head monkey-girl, my little greyhound chimera is gone.  I could (and will, but not here) write volumes about that little girl-dog.  Suffice it to say that my heart is broken, but that her lesson is to live life, and enjoy it despite obstacles.  Wherever you see a dandelion (a favorite obsession of hers), I hope you see a bit of sun, a treat, and that it makes you smile. 

Now, moving on.

Acrylic on gessoed panel.  8" x 10"
©Xan Blackburn 2011
Fluffy is finally done!  Assuming I stop messing with it, this is the final look.  Okay, actually I fiddled with it a bit more after this scan, but you might not be able to tell the difference if I re-scanned it! 

It may not look too different from the last time I showed it to you, but I assure you, there are hours more fiddling in it since then!

One thing you might be able to see, if you go back and forth, is that I took the cooler blueish tones way over into a burnt umber zone.  It was bothering me earlier that he was starting to look sort of grubby.  I had to step back, sort of wash my eyes out a bit, and come back to the photos with freshened perceptions to see that the tone of his fur is truly much warmer than I had made it, and that's what I'd been fighting with, resulting in a confused, dirty sort of look.  I was able to resolve that by giving in to the warm tones, even though I was afraid he'd just blend into his warm background.  The cooler shadows underneath helped prevent that, however.  So, here comes Fluffy!

Kris, his owner, is ill right now.  I hope this little painting of her adorable pup can give her some pleasure, and that she'll be well soon.

And moving on further, I've begun real work on the 4 breed demonstration portraits I mentioned earlier.  I'm going to keep these to a similar look so they work well together on a shared board-frame-thing my husband and I have cooked up to display them at shows.  They are on gessoed panel (actually Claybord, which is not gessoed, but coated with a very fine white clay), on which I've laid down a muted warm background on, mixing Naples yellow, burnt umber, ultramarine blue and gesso (so much for the clay surface!)  This gives me a matte, slightly toothy surface which I've been enjoying in my last few pieces.  

Work in progress.  Acrylic on Claybord.  8" x 10"
©Xan Blackburn 2011
First up is Daddy, a Birger Picard.  I'd love to meet one of these dogs!  They look like a neat breed, and I love the rough, fuzzy face!  Here's where I am as of right now.  

The drawing has been transferred onto the prepared panel, and I've begun to lay in the underpainting in a mix of raw umber and Prussian blue hue.  You can see I've also already washed in a little pink to the tongue and ear.  I had mostly wanted to get the eye going, which meant layering up red and golden yellow, and red goes a loo-ooong way, I'm super cheap and hate to waste paint, so I wanted to use up the tiny bit I squeezed out.  

Daddy, reference photo
  My reference photo is not very good, sadly, but I've been able to cross-reference with some others to give me a sense of the actual texture of the fur.  I'm going to TRY to get all four of these done in time to scan the finished paintings, design some postcards and/or business cards, get them printed, and still take them all to California in a week and a half!  Wish me luck.  I've got to get a wiggle on!

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