Like a dog portrait. Unless you’ve been commissioned by a sentimental owner or a zoologist that can spot the variances in its anatomy! 😡
A year ago my boss at my regular day job asked me to do a painting of his dog who had passed away some time earlier. I agreed because I’m up for a challenge generally. He supplied me with a dozen snap shot photos from the 1970’s, which is to say that they aren’t of the best condition or composition.
I’m now beginning my third attempt 😬
Work in progress, sketch on wood panel
Snap shot from the 1970’s as a reference for the dog portrait
I rather liked my second attempt in watercolours but he thought the dog looked silly. I thought it showed his personality! Like many of the dogs in this how-to guide
Dog portrait, watercolour on paper
My first attempt in acrylics from last summer s going okay until a bit a roadblock on the background. I stared at it for weeks before turning it towards the wall. I just couldn’t make the gravel of the background interesting.
Dog portrait in acrylic on canvas
If he doesn’t like number #3 I might throw in the towel 😢
I enjoy a little creative challenge every now and then to help think outside my comfort zone. So this week I incorporated several different bits of online homework and blog challenges altogether that had a few things in common. Namely the colours blue, green & aqua.
An assortment of crows. All are acrylics except centre right which is watercolor on birch panel.
What can be learned by doing things really fast? Or really slow? Or in a series?
Many artists painted have the same subject over and over, from different angles (Monet’s Waterlilies) and others have painted the subject repeatedly looking the same (Warhol’s Marilyn silkscreens) in an effort to show that even with endless amounts of reproduction where on the surface they appear the same, the small smears and clogs give an individuality to each piece. Even in my attempts to manually reproduce the same familiar image from memory, each time there would be variations to the theme. Some I liked and of course others not so much.
What I found is that each time I repeat a subject (such as a bird) I become more aware of :
*the textures & highlights
*the shape & proportion
*the body language & movement
*seemingly subtle things such as the highlights of an eye can draw your attention
*the addition of a tiny prop like a cigarette can change the attitude
I hadn’t tried to give myself a time limit until I applied to compete in Art Battle, along with a few friends (Buddy System!).
My first reaction to the challenge was trepidation but the more I thought about it the old saying of “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” was lingering in the back of my mind. That’s when I made the dive and sent in an application, only then to panic with my acceptance!
I needed a plan of action so our group, which we soon dubbed “the A-Team” (an attempt to take on the strength & ingenuity of these iconic characters) put into motion several practice sessions, complete with timers, distractions and loud music (we had to learn to block these things out). We tried new images and old familiar ones to the point where it began to feel that our hands began to form a memory of their own for the twists and turns required, endeavoring to become more efficient in the movements each time. The results did surprise me at times and really made me consider whether some of the long drawn out hours necessarily paid off?
The day of the competition was loaded with adrenalin, unfamiliar materials and faces but I’m certainly glad I did it. Will I compete again? Only the future will tell but in the meantime I have a collection of birds in various sizes and shapes to contemplate and learn from 🙂