Monthly Archives: June 2010

Pet Portrait – Day Five

So… I’m a few days late.  I pushed myself a little too far last week and my brain and body just shut down this weekend.  I needed a long time out to regroup.

Me with paintingFriday night was a rough night.  Mentally I was working against myself, overthinking things, doubting myself and any ability I might have, comparing myself to others (unfavorably, of course) and such.  It was a hard night of painting.  The painting wasn’t going well, the colors just weren’t right.   At one point, Linda and I were talking and studying the painting and determined that the values of the cat weren’t right.  Which mean I got to paint the undercoat all over again.  But that was a good thing as it corrected something that needed to be fixed and I loosened up a bit in the process.  The class ended on a positive note with me feeling much more confident than I had felt at the beginning.  And yes, that’s yours truly posing alongside her creation.  🙂  (Picture is courtesy of Kristen, another student in the class.)

Penny looking weirdI learned so much from this class.  It was a good way to throw myself back into the oil painting again.  And this time I really have vowed not to let it go.  While I didn’t work on the cat this weekend, I forced myself to sit down tonight and mix up some paint colors.  Then a little while later, after an impromptu visit from a friend, I sat myself down to start the process of painting in the fur.  Linda warned us it would look and feel weird at first, but that as we continued the process, we would see it start to come together.  Well, Penny is looking a little weird right now.  *g*  I can see a few spots where the values aren’t quite right and will fix that tomorrow.  However, you can’t see it in the picture (sorry for the lousy iPhone pictures – I can’t find my camera) but on the right side in the dark patch of fur on her body, I started to fill in the hair a bit and I can see how it will come together.

I’m pushing myself to keep at it,  to keep learning and playing and experimenting.  It’s just little moments of fighting the fear of messing up or making a horrible mistake or just painting bad and doing it anyway.  🙂



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Pet Portrait – Day Four

Cat Painting UpdateAs I was typing this entry, talking about how tired I am and how this entry would be short and sweet, my &%#$ laptop decided to shut down and install some updates.  So now I start again.

So today in class we went over painting fur and cat eyes.  Very helpful.  I’ll be using that tomorrow night!  Tonight I finished filling in the background.  One of these days I will learn to actually fill in the background as I go along, instead of trying to painting around say, a cat and bird.  I know better, but still I don’t do it.  I’m learning, slowly but surely!

Now I get to start adding in the fur and all the other details.  Fun!  One last class to get some hands on help from Linda, though I guarantee you I’ll be emailing her a picture to get her input.  🙂

Tonight I’m keeping this entry short.  I’m giving myself a break tonight and will spend oh, 45 minutes or so playing with the new computer game to relax (got Sims 3 Ambitions!) and then it’s time to get ready for bed.  Will write a bit more tomorrow night!

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Pet Portrait – Day Three

Beginning of undercoatDay three of pet portrait class and we’re now more than halfway through.  Despite the killer schedule of having class every night, I could really use another week at least!  Thank God Linda welcomes us emailing her with pictures if we get stuck or have a question.  Since I’m hoping to donate this painting for a silent charity auction later this fall, I will totally be taking her up on that!  There’s no way I’ll be able to finish this painting by the end of class on Friday, but I hope to make great progress the next two days.

Today she went over a little bit about colors then we all got busy working on the paintings.  I had experimented with mixing up some colors last night to help speed things up tonight and boy, was that a good thing!  I got a nice gray mixed up for the undercoat and started blocking in the cat.  I hate this part.  This is the part where I want to give up and walk away from the painting. But I know if I stick with it, I’ll get past this part and it’ll get better.

Really doesn’t help that I hadn’t painted with oils for around 7 or 8 months before taking this class.  I will NEVER go that long again.  This is my new resolution and I will be sticking with it.  I take a class and make great progress, then once the class is over with, I stop doing it.  Then when I take the next class, I feel like I’ve been thrown in the deep end and I’m struggling to get back to where I was before.  Then just when I’m feeling like I’m getting there, the class is through and again, I stop.  I’ve done this with various things through my life when it comes to art and slowly, I’m starting to mend my ways.

Cat undercoat done!Anyway, I persevered and kept on painting and finally, I started to get to a place where it began to actually resemble the cat.  That was a good moment!  I started to feel hope that it might all turn out well in the end.  🙂  I finally did finish the undercoat of the cat.  I can spot a few areas that aren’t quite right, but overall, she’s looking so much better than I thought she would be!

Towards the end of class I started to move on and got the base of the bird feeder blocked in.  I have to look for a few reference photos for the bird so that I can be prepared to work on him.  I think that blocking in the rest of the painting will go much faster, especially since it’s not as detailed as the cat itself and then I can get started on adding the layers of fur to her.

Anyway, now I’m off to go finish up a few things and hopefully be in bed by midnight.  As much as I would love another week of this, I really need sleep!  So thankful I was able to take this class.  I always learn so much in Linda’s workshops.

Be back again tomorrow night!


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Pet Portrait – Day Two

sketchBack from class and ready for bed.  🙂  But before I hit the sack, I wanted to get this written and posted.

Headed to class again, this time prepared to sketch the cat onto the gessobord. Got there a bit early, chatted with folks, looked at their sketches, then started to finish up mine.

The picture I”m using of Penny was taken when she was sitting on the window sill.  I was driving home last night, thinking of how she used to jump up there, then sit and chatter at the birds on the feeder outside.  It made me laugh every time.  Then it occurred to me that I could add a bird on a feeder in the upper left corner, along with a bird peeking it’s head out.  So I added that to the sketch and decided to use that.  I wanted to do something that would reveal part of Penny’s personality and that reminded me of her.  Perfect

While we worked on sketches, Linda got things set up for the talk/demonstration.  Once she was ready, we gathered ’round and listened hard.  A lot I was already familiar with, but it never hurts to get a refresher course.  Plus sometimes you catch something that you missed last time and that was the case today.

a good startShe went over a little color theory, strategies for deciding how to attack the painting, and demonstrated by sketching on her canvas, then she sent us all off to do it ourselves.  I cleaned up the sketch and then mixed up my paints.  Opened up the odorless mineral spirits and dished out some Neo Megilp.  (The strangest product name I have ever heard.  I want to know how they came up with it and what possessed them to use it!)  Then I got to work.

I switched between the sketch and the black and white photo.  I spent a lot of time trying to make sure that all the measurements worked out and tried to get the best resemblance possible.  The better a job I do today, the less mistakes to fix and the less reworking to do later in the process.

final outlineI will admit that I dragged my feet a little.  I was nervous about figuring out the colors and actually taking that next step, so I hemmed and hawed.  I fiddled around and thought a lot about the color scheme I was going to use.  Then suddenly it was 8:45 and since class got out at 9:00, well, why bother.  I excel at this kind of stuff, can you tell??  I ended up stopping at this point, rather pleased with the results, but wishing I had pushed myself to go a little further.  Only three more sessions left.  😦

All the way home, I kept thinking that I really should break out the paints and mess around with the paints tonight.  Try out a few color combos and see what works and what doesn’t.  I really didn’t want to, but I decided to make up for my earlier procrastination and save myself some time in tomorrow’s class.

paint samplesI got home, whipped out the paints and got to work.  I knew I wanted to go with the complimentary color scheme of blue and orange, but the colors just weren’t turning out right.  I figured out the orangey brownish color of her fur early on, but the gray was escaping me.  But as I continued to work, I started remembering bits and pieces of things I had learned before and after 45 minutes, I found the color combinations that would work for a good part of the painting.  Unfortunately, by the time I found these color combos, the canvas board I had been using to test them was nearly full.  But I dabbed some of the correct colors on there and made a couple of notes.

I’m so very thankful that I sat down to work this out tonight.  This way tomorrow I can get to class, immediately whip up the colors I need and not have to waste valuable class time struggling to get the shades right.  I”m so looking forward to working on this painting tomorrow.

I was speaking to Linda about being asked to donate a painting for the Mayor’s Charity Ball this fall and she suggested that I could donate this one.  It hadn’t occurred to me to do that, but I’m keeping it in mind.  If this painting turns out, I just may set it aside and save it.  It would be wonderful to have that project done and not hanging over my head.

Coming tomorrow will be the recap of the third day and more pictures!

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Pet Portraits – Day One

Today I started the first of five classes (one each night this week) on painting pet portraits in oils. I have several portraits I’d like to do, all based on some of the darling animals that I pet-sit, as well as the cat and dog that we had while I was growing up. I no longer have pets of my own due to allergies, but for the special people in my life, I drug myself heavily and pet-sit for them. It’s how I get my pet fix and earn some extra money, too. 🙂

My kitty-niece Penny

I had printed out a number of photos, then I had to narrow down the choices. I ended up choosing the picture of my best friend’s cat, Penny. I’m really pleased with the picture and still can’t believe I was able to get her in such a good pose. It has some good contrast going on (especially once I played a little with it in Paint Shop Pro) and it just brought back a lot of memories from when I watched her that time. I was thinking of some of those memories driving home from class and they’ve given me some ideas for the background. I’m still not sure which I’ll end up using.

It’s a sweet picture of a sweet, affectionate cat. She is, by far, the most attention craving cat that I have house-sat. Most of the cats will come up every once in a while to be loved, but this sweet girl would hang around for hours. Books and laptops don’t deter her, she just plops down on top of them, demanding to be petted.

Anyway, back to class. I arrived and got settled. Recognized some old faces from previous classes I’ve taken with the artist, Linda. Chatted a bit amongst ourselves, then got down to business. We introduced ourselves, went over some basics and talked about drawing the animals, trying to get the angles and proportions right, etc. Then we settled down to sketch.

Cat sketch in progressThere are times, rare and marvelous times, when I sit down to sketch and the lines just seem to flow on the page with little effort. This was not one of those times! Trying to figure out what’s beneath all that fur, getting the angles right, double and triple checking measurements, and then erasing it and starting over again. That’s how my night went. But thank God I love a challenge! I get riled up and refuse to quit. I refuse to let the sketch defeat me. 🙂

Linda stopped by as she made her way around the room and she was able to pinpoint what was messing me up. I knew something was up around the mouth area, but just couldn’t figure out what was going on. Once she took a look and steered me in the right direction, things started going much, much better.

Final cat sketchI spent the last bit of the night working out the last of the kinks. By the time class was over, I was quite happy with the results. I gathered up my things, hopped in the car, and stopped for some Haagen Daz on my way home. 🙂 I figured all that hard work deserved a little treat!

Tomorrow during my lunch hour and before class, I’ll be playing around with different background ideas. The thing is, my favorite idea involves adding yet another creature to the painting. LOL! I guess I really do just like to challenge myself. 🙂 Then once I get to class tomorrow night, we’ll begin the process of sketching the drawing onto the canvas, or gessobord in my case, using the paints. So yes, I get to do it all again!


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Mermaid update

After nearly falling asleep on the couch after work today, I roused myself up and headed down to the studio area.  I decided to work on the Christmas project first and actually did more on that than I intended.  Once I get going, I just want to keep going at it.  Very hard to make myself put it down and walk away. But I finally did.

Progress of mermaid paintingI’ve been feeling all day like I wanted to tackle the mermaid painting again.  Taking advantage of that mood, I moved on to the mermaid.  I mixed up the grays for the rock and dug in.  I did have a sketch that I was working off of, but I also just played around with it a bit.  It’s been months since I painted with oils, so I’m trying to get used to working with them again and I’m letting myself experiment.  However, I’m really happy with how the mermaid is coming along, so I don’t want to mess things by playing around too much.  LOL!  I had a bad moment where I messed up the tail a bit, but I think that I rescued it fairly well.

I still have more work to do on the rock, then I also have to add in highlights and the foamy water around the rocks.  And I have to fix a few areas of the water. I’m shooting for finishing it by next week. I want to take it to my class to have Linda take a look at it and see if she has any feedback before I declare it complete.

All right, time to get away from any and all things digital so I can settle down before hitting the sack.  Happy dreams everyone!  🙂

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Well, in my studio anyway! I’ve begun work on some new items just for Christmas! The bright reds and greens are quite festive and I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together. Though it’s quite strange to be doing Christmas in the middle of summer. 🙂

I’ve also been quite busy working on several other pieces. Not done with the mermaid yet, but I want to finish her by the end of this weekend. I also have a new owl that I’ve started. Want a sneak peek? Here ya go!

New owl work in progress

Next week is going to be crazy! I’m taking a five day intensive class. It’ll be every night next week from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. The class is taught by a local artist, Linda Infante Lyons and it will be focused on pet portraits. I’m very excited about this one and having taken several other classes by her, I know it’ll be a good one. I’ll be sure to post some pictures here. 🙂

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