"Sam" is for Kristin and her brother, who commissioned the painting for their father. Sam is a four-year-old black Labrador. He is a field trial champion and came all the way from Ireland! The reference picture was taken in their dad's hunting blind in Chesapeake on a beautiful autumn day, when Sam retrieved eight geese.
Kristin initially ordered a 10" x 8" pet portrait. Boy, I wished for a larger painting, so that I could do justice to such an awesome subject. Then I could paint not only the portrait of the noble dog, but also the still life tableau of the game and hunting blind in the foreground and the autumn landscape in the background. Somehow, Kristin telepathically read my mind and decided to upgrade. The power of positive thinking got proven again!
They say that a dog is a man's best friend. Sam is indeed Kristin's dad's best friend. Can you imagine how proud and happy Kristin's dad will be when he learns about the thoughtful present on Christmas? He will only see a card with the image of "Sam"; the painting will arrive after the New Year's Day. I would like to thank here several clients who kindly agreed to the late deliveries of their orders. As one client said, it is worth it!
|"Sam" in progress|
By the way, I took a picture of the painting in progress yesterday. I don't usually do this, because it puts an additional pressure on myself and the step-by-step photos taken in my studio always have strange white balance. But I get inquiries about my procedures from curious fellow artists, so here we go. I use the same methods for all my oil paintings, whether portraits, landscapes, or florals.
I use the grid method to transfer the image to the linen panel. (Can you see the grids I drew on the print on the left?) Drawing in raw umber gets done fast. The next step is a transparent underpainting over the drawing. The geese in the foreground in the painting has, at this point, only a thin layer of transparent paints, but don't they already look finished?
My goal at this stage is to establish the correct value and color temperature scheme. Much of the drawing gets lost, as you can see in the dog, who lost all the facial features. But it's okay. I don't blindly paint by numbers. Painting is a continual drawing process with a brush!
I have already started blocking in with thick opaque paints in the landscape background and the weedy foreground. It probably took about an hour or so to get this far. It took four additional hours to finish the painting. (Facial features alone sometimes take a hour.) It was a long day yesterday!