This is Bella, a beautiful black lab in a beautiful pose but the photo is not very sharp so the owner sent me a few others to work with that have more detail. Black animals always offer the greatest challenge as it's tricky getting depth in a painting when the highlights are a lighter shade of black! Anyway, I started by toning my 9 x 12" size canvas board with a mixture of cadmium yellow and yellow ochre. Then I sketched Bella over the top, marking in where her features are as well as I could. Then I scumbled the background with a mixture of ultramarine blue, sap green and raw umber into titanium white. I let this layer dry before mixing burnt sienna with ultramarine in varying mixes for the first undercoat. This layer establishes the highlights, shadows and direction of fur growth. Next I added a little white to pick out the high spots as well as layering in more tones of mixed black. With another layer added, this time with more blue in the mix, I concentrated on painting burnt sienna into the eyes and creating the shape and highlights. Here I got a little unstuck as the photo was so vague and I ended up messing around with the levels in Photoshop and painting from my laptop screen. I changed my paintbrushes to get finer brushstrokes as I added more blue, white, umber and sienna on different layers and at last the dog is taking form and looking less flat! I added more colour to the background and painted these onto the dog in order to soften the edges and add the right colours that would be reflected on the coat. Finally, black and brown shades are painted back over and lifted out of the highlighted areas. Bella is now finished!
Merry Christmas (again)
10 months ago