I just finished the commissioned dog portrait I have been working on since February. I did a post about it then when I had just begun the painting and I thought it might be fun to post the stages leading up to the final. She has such a beautiful intensity about her and I must admit I am going to miss having her around the house, so to speak. I do tend to get attached to my portraits and it can be hard to let them go at the end!
I begin with a series of sketches, this one made the final cut.
The next step is stretching and priming the canvas. I like to begin on a mid-tone ground and work out the light and shadow with white and umber instead of working down from a white ground.
The next step is always the trickiest for me as I begin to add in color and form. I have to keep the final vision in mind as I know the painting takes on a life of it's own at this stage. I go back and forth a lot at this point so that I don't have to make any big adjustments later on. I spend a lot of time sitting and staring at it, sometimes weeks to be sure to catch little things that aren't quite right.
At this point I added in the collar and also brought the tone of her fur way down so that I could then go in and add more light. The back and forth of dark and light is what gives the painting a sort of glow. I learned this classical approach to painting early on in art school and it has stayed with me ever since.
Then on to the final stage where I added back some lighter tones to her ears and fur and of course put in her fuzzy little whiskers and it was finished!