It’s not all black and white

When I was 15, I painted a huge monotone red landscape of the Cornwall coast. My art teacher suggested putting green, purple and blue into it. I looked at her as though she was mad!

“Err. Miss, it’s a REDSCALE landscape. As in: only red allowed.”

 But when does red stop being red and start being orange?

 When you print in greyscale, that’s it. The only colours present are white, black, blacker white and whiter black.

 When you paint in greyscale… that’s not it. And I understand that now.

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To paint a Zebra… you will need:

  •  White and Black paint, yes.
  • But also: copper, purple, blue – but a cobolt blue, not a turquoise blue, brown – a raw umber and a burnt sienna, green – something yellowy like hookers green, burgundy, gold and yellow. And fancy ones like flesh tint. And it wouldn’t hurt adding in a lot lot more either!
  • A canvas, I used 50cm x 50cm.
  • Water
  • Flat paintbrush & small rounded paintbrushes of varying size.

 How to guide

  1. Lay down the basics: Grid up your photo and your canvas.I have a grid that I use digitally on my computer screen to put over the photograph.

    I then use each square on the screen as a 5cm square on my canvas. Then you just copy what is in each square onto your canvas in pencil. It keeps all stripes accounted for.

    Paint the background white. This may take several layers.
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  2. It is just black and white: Paint the black stripes in black, and the white stripes in a pale grey (I won’t tell anyone if you just use white paint with a little bit of black in it. That’s what I did for the base coat!).The trick at this stage is just to make it so that every part of the canvas is covered:

    Trick: hold it up to the light and see if you can see through it.
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  3.  Cruella-style Mohawk: Use a flat brush to paint the white areas in grey, and the black areas black. Then use a small rounded brush to add individual pale hairs into themane. I find that using acrylic inks can really help get precise brushstrokes.Mix a bit of cobalt blue into your grey, to get cooler tones, and hints of yellow, brown and copper to get richer tones.

    I also used flecks of pure copper at the tips of some of the hairs, which gives the impression that they are caught in sunlight.
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  4.  Hairy ears and eyelashes: For the ears, you need a reallydiddy brush, definitely mixing in some blue and a hint of green to get cooler tones.The trick is lots of tiny short brushstrokes on the outside of the ears to get a look of fur, not hair, and then warmer shades of longer, curly strokes inside the ears.

    For the eyes, paint the area a deep blue-grey, and then put in a darker pupil. Use white acrylic ink to flick delicate eyelashes from the top eyelid.
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  5.  The White Stripes: Pay particular attention to the different tones in the photograph.Once you get past the idea that the ‘white’ stripes should be paler than the ‘black’ areas, and start seeing them as just tones, you will go forward in leaps and bounds!

    Use a range of varying watered down grey-blues using a little rounded brush, and create little delicate hairs.

    Sculpt areas of shadow and light so that you can make out the muscles of the body.
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  6. Crinkly snout: This was the part that I found the toughest. No hair! Firstly block in the different tones of shadow, mixing green into your paint to achieve an accurate shade. Then pick out the areas of highlight with a pale grey.

    Use short brushstrokes to carve dots and crinkles into the skin to give the impression of wrinkles and pores. IMAG1696

  7.  Plug away: There is no secret to achieving detail. Just lots and lots of layers of little hairs, covering all of the stripes, all over the body.A lot of hours of your life… As soon as one stripe is done, onto the next!
    Zeb - Imi Woods

I am thinking of getting giclée prints made of Zeb.
Please let me know if you would be interested in pre-ordering.

 

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How to paint a barn owl

Meet a barn owl: I went to the Andover Hawk Conservancy and met little Echo. Ideally, I would have liked to keep him, but at least I got to take away some amazing photographs!

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Grid up your canvas: On this 20 by 20cm canvas, I went for squares of 5cm each, making sure that my photograph was also gridded up with the same dimensions. Then it’s a simple case of putting the basic shapes from the photograph into the same place on the canvas. Some artists may scorn at this approach, but to me it is just planning for success and avoids abortive work later on.

barn owl

Paint the background: For this painting I went for a simple matte violet (violet paint with a hint of white for extra creaminess.)

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Paint the face base coat: I find where you have white fur or feathers, paint a base of a purpley grey, and then use white over the top to add final detail.

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Rim the eyes: use long curled brushstrokes fanning out from around the eyes to create that characteristic heart shaped face.

Eye eye: paint the eyes as squashed circles, with a dark black surround and pupil, and a paler iris. Then put paler grey sheens where the light catches, and white glints.

Paint the beak: I used a pale pink, with a paler stripe down the middle. This then disappears into a darker tip, the same colour as the two (for want of a better word) nostrils. Then use white paint to flick little feathers over the top of the beak.

Body base coat: Start with a base of a slightly darker tan colour, using a mix of sienna, gold and white. Following this, add more white and gold and create areas of highlight and detail.

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Shades of grey: Barn owls have beautiful speckles of grey on their back and upper body. Refer to your photograph and use a mix of black, white and a hint of purple to give the grey an added dimension.

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Speckles on the speckles: I then cross hatched over the grey speckles using a darker grey and a lighter grey watery mix and a teeny tiny paintbrush.

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Finishing touches: Then I put on small black freckles with white tails. Check the photo if you don’t believe me! Bird’s feathers are so detailed and surprising when you look at them up close

Echo ARTbyIMI

Art framing for Dummies

You are cordially invited to attend my PREMIER ART EXHIBITION!

Where: Frensham Studios, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 3BJ.
When: Saturday 7th December – Sunday 15th December

If you are in the area, please come down and see me and the other exhibiting artists.

Do your Christmas shopping there, because art truly makes an amazing present!
It’s thoughtful, it keeps on giving, and it won’t lose its value. It will even increase! 

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To prepare for the exhibition, I have got several of my paintings made into prints, including a limited edition run of my Kookaburra.
I have framed all of these to make beautiful ready-to-hang gifts.

I’m sure you know, framing art can be incredibly expensive. It’s normally out of reach to the young artist starting out. But following some excellent advice, I have done it myself.

Same professional finish, but more affordable for me… meaning more affordable for you!

Here’s how you can frame your artwork too:

You will need:

  • Giclée prints on cotton rag paper of your artwork.
  • Black illustration pen
  • Black wooden frames of the same size as your print.
  • Gum tape
  • Scissors
  • Personalised stickers
  • Water
  • Clean cloth
  • Patience…

1: Sign and name your artwork using your black illustration pen

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2. Get a smart black wooden frame. Standard sizes are much more affordable than bespoke sizes.

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3. Pop your print in, and put a plain piece of paper behind it to protect it from the frame.
Put the back of the frame on.

4. Get your gum tape and cut strips of the right length to cover the seams on the back.

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5. Using a cloth and water, dampen the shiny side of the gum tape (like an envelope)

6. Carefully paste the sticky strip along the seams on the back of your frame. This will keep all the dust out, keeping the print safe and secure.

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7. Do this for all the other sides. You may have to cut into the gum strip to avoid pasting over wall fastenings.

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8. Pop one of your personalised stickers in the corner.

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Now your artwork looks fancy and framed, but you and your clients don’t need to shell out the big bucks!

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Don’t forget about the exhibition – It would really make all of my hard work worthwhile to see you there 🙂

How to paint a beady eye

Pencil in the shape of the eye
Think slightly squashed circle, with a smooth line right the way around. 

pencil eye

Paint in the feathers surrounding the eye using acrylic paint
The feathers close to the eye are often in an outwards direction, so use a little rounded brush to detail this. 

outline eye

Just close to the eye, the feathers will be darker, gradually getting lighter as distance from the eye increases. The feathers above the eye often catches the light, whereas below the eye is slightly more in shade – so alter your colours accordingly.

 Dig out your acrylic inks to create a glossy eye

 *Clue is in the name, these are inks made out of acrylic. They are much more fluid, and give an ink shine when dry, but are waterproof like acrylic paint. You can buy them online or at all art stockists*

 

Mix up black, white and a hint of blue ink
Create a really deep bluey grey, and paint over the entire eye. Once this is dry, paint in a fairly large oval-shaped pupil in deep black acrylic ink. 

iris eye

Rim two-thirds of the eye in a thin pale grey line
You should be able to control this by using the acrylic inks. Slightly extend the line in the corner nearest to the beak where you would find a tear duct.

Rim eye

Use black ink to rim the remaining third of the eye
This is where you would find the eye lid. Meet this black line at the ‘tear duct’.

Rim blackeye

Use a pale grey to create glints of light in the eye
These will be 2/3 up the eye, around the fullest part. Slightly overlapping these with the black pupil. Dab this with your finger to blend slightly.
glint eye

Use a bright white to create a long glint of light at the fullest part of the eye.
This again will slightly overlap your pupil and pale grey blended glints.
 

white glint eye

Ta da!

The result should be a beady eye that looks alive! Acrylic inks can also be used on feathers to give them the slightly oily and magnetic appearance that can be seen on birds like magpies and penguins.

Oh and… guess which Football team the owner of the painting supports?!

Magpies

 

How to paint a short haired cat

I was commissioned to paint Gumdrops the cat for fellow blogger, Kate. I thought it would look really striking on a tall thin canvas, walking proudly, tail in the air.

To Create a painting of a short haired cat, you will need:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Large flat paintbrushes
  • Small rounded brushes
  • Play mat
  • Water
  • Palette (or foil case)
  • Canvas (I used 75cm x 30 cm)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Photo to copy.

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Gumdrops was posted off to Gibraltar, and has safely arrived with the proud owner.
I got this lovely email, which just makes my work SO worthwhile!

“I’ve collected Gumdrops the painting and he’s wonderful! .. you’ve really captured his essence .. thank you so much for all the skill, care and attention you’ve put into this lovely painting :)”

Refer

 

Laugh, Kookaburra, Laugh

Kookaburras are remarkably underrated birds. A more sociable cousin of the Kingfisher, they are full-feathered and expressive – an excellent painting subject.

We met a Laughing Kookaburra at a recent visit to Marwell Zoo. He was incredibly patient and tame, sitting just a metre away from us in an open aviary. He posed for us for a good ten minutes, and we got some really beautiful shots of the Kookaburra and the leafy background in soft focus.

I knew that it would make an amazing statement piece, so I bought a 40 x 60cm canvas and set aside quite a bit of time (I estimate it took 50-60 hours of work) to create Herman the Kookaburra in acrylic paint on canvas.

Why Herman? My sister told me he was a Herman. I wasn’t convinced by the name at all.
I decided to look up the Laughing Kookaburra using the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia.
What do you know, it was actually founded by someone called Johann Herman.

It was fate, and you can’t argue with fate.

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If you think your house would benefit from a Herman, please contact me as he is for sale.

Have you ever had a similar experience with fate? 

Time lapse Meercats

Hello everybody!
Lots of busy and exciting things happening recently! I have just put a painting into the Society for Wildlife Art’s annual exhibition, I find out next week if it has been selected. It’s my favourite painting so far, really excited to share it with you soon!

I’ll leave you with Mossy… a painting a did a couple of months ago! I have put it into a handy time-lapse video for you, no scrolling – simples!

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How to create an Artist’s Portfolio

Today I had a display at Gilbert White’s House and Gardens in Hampshire. My portfolio was a great feature, people spent ages flicking through and seeing the extent of my skills. It also sparked several interesting conversations and leads.

In short, a portfolio is the perfect way to show off your skills in an effective and physical way, without relying on computers or the internet to access your gallery.

They can be created simply without too much expense or materials, and yet still look professional!

You will need

  • Large (9×7) photographs of your completed works
  • Small (6×4) photographs of your muse images
  • Printed out titles
  • Printed out testimonials from happy customers
  • A large, plain black self-adhesive photo album
  • Guillotine / ruler & scissors

Step 1: Get your photographs printed. I got mine done at Boots pharmacy, and the good thing is that you can edit the photos on the screen to make them fit to the size of the photograph so that no vital parts are cropped out.

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Step 2: Cut off any white edges using a guillotine for sharp lines. I borrowed one at work in my lunch hour.

Step 3: Set out your photos on the page, without peeling back the self-adhesive layer yet. Give the photographs a slight overlap if necessary.

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Step 4: Work out what remaining space you have on your page to fill with the project title and testimonials. Then chose an appropriate font, text size and layout to fit the surrounding space. Keep the font and size regular for all titles, and all other text, but vary the layout as the space allows.

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Step 5: Cut up the testimonials and titles, again using a guillotine if you can.

Step 6: Choose which order you would like to present the portfolio in. I chose chronological (it seemed logical.)

Step 7: Peel pack the plastic layer to expose the adhesive, leaving it still stuck at the far edge so it can be reapplied easily. Carefully press down your photographs and text in your practiced layout, and then swipe the plastic layer back into place using your forearm to get even pressure.

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Step 8: Wash, rinse, repeat (just without the washing and rinsing.)

A word of caution – although the pages are thick, take extra care that you do not accidently skip a page, because every time you peel back the plastic layer to rearrange pages, the adhesive loses a bit of its stick, and it is a little soul wrenching to have to do it AGAIN.

Ta da, a beautiful coffee table portfolio to show people.
Just take care that no-one walks away with it!

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The time I drew a caricature of my boss and didn’t get fired.

A couple of months ago, I was approached by a man at work about a possible commission.

“I have a potential project for you!”

Great! I am always up for a new project!

“How would you like to do a caricature of <<the big boss>>?”

I went home and saw my boyfriend / official advisor. He had a few words to say about this.

“This can ONLY GO BADLY.”
“Your options are:
a) your boss gets offended because it really does look like him and he can’t take a joke.
b) it’s rubbish and people lose faith in your abilities.”

Quick fact about me: I am notoriously bad at saying no. Instead I whine and worry to people who cannot make any difference.

Obviously I had already said I would try. I can’t let people down!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I started to collect photographs and fun facts about my boss, fed from a private detective…his wife.

“Loves Golf, Dr Who, Percy Pigs, Crystal Palace…

…Can you try to get those into the picture too?”

I said I would try… racking my brains as to why I was making these promises I didn’t know I could keep. With animals I have a track record. This was an unknown.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

After a week of promising to try… I actually began to try. My plan was to give him the body of a golfer, with an oversized head. That way, I need not risk exaggerating his features! Genius.

boss 1

I have remarkably little imagination for someone so arty. I find it very difficult to draw from memory, so I found a photograph of a golfer, mid swing, printed off big boss’ decapitated head, and quite literally stuck it on.

 

 

 

 

 

boss 2

As I started to draw my first draft, I completely relaxed! I just sketched it onto a scrap piece of A4 paper in pencil, before developing it with a black felt tip pen. It was looking good!

 

 

 

 

 

boss 3

Once the first draft was complete, I scanned it into the computer and printed it out onto an A3 sheet, to scale it up quickly and easily. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

boss 4

I then re-copied it onto a sheet of card.. I embellished the shirt with stereotypical golfing diamonds, and added a flag in the distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

boss 5

I got out my colouring pencils and I coloured it in. I didn’t want to risk paint, as you can completely lose your artwork beneath it! I patiently coloured several layers to get the colours lovely and bright.

 

 

 

 

 

boss 6

For a few personal touches, I coloured the diamonds on his shirt Crystal Palace red and blue, and the little flag in the background the tasteful company colours of orange and green.

 

 

 

 

 

boss 8

Finally I went over the artwork in my felt tip pen, and wrote a personal message on the gold ball “25 years”, his time in the company.

 

 

 

 

 

So the moral of the story here is: just because you have never done something, it doesn’t mean you will be rubbish!
You might just get it right.

What have you thought about writing off before even trying it?
Have I convinced you to give it a try?

boss 9

So you want them to actually READ your CV?

I, Imi Woods, Animal Artist, have given myself a metaphorical kick up the backside and decided to start contacting galleries, shops and (gulp) agents.

I looked up “How to write an Artist’s CV” on Google.
It depressed the hell out of me.

“Avoid any formatting at all if possible. No columns, tabs, multiple spaces, words all in caps, quotation marks, or bold formatting. The only formatting needed is italics for exhibition names, article titles and prize names. Stick to one typeface for the entire document. Preferably something simple like Arial or Times Roman. Leave creativity for the art. The CV needs clarity.”

As a self-trained, as yet barely exhibited young Artist… I don’t yet have the facts to speak for me. I have passion, raw talent, beautiful paintings and lots of happy customers… but not the lists of Relevant Education, Exhibitions at the Tate or MoMA, Associations, Publications and Awards that they are really looking for. Sorry, I forgot, I do have the Year 9 Art Prize and I write a blog. I’ll be sure to put that on my CV…

I know that I am going places… I just need a leg up to get on the ladder.

So here are my tips for creating a memorable and interesting CV. The sort of CV that will help the Emerging Artist who doesn’t yet have all the facts to talk for them. It might just get you to the top of the pile… or at least keep you away from the bottom.
Feel free to use ideas from my CV below if you would like.
Please note, this is applicable to other industries too!

print screen of CV

1. Design an interesting layout. Note: a few columns and bullets does not mean interesting. Challenge yourself! Using a table format in Microsoft Word is easy and keeps all of your information in the right place. Keep it clean and functional… but with a bit of pizazz. I put a column going down the left hand side with my name and job title, separated by a block line.

2. Use a bit of colour. I know, not everyone is like me and excited by colours. But one colour as a strong theme running through the CV will draw the eye directly to your CV for the right reasons.

3. Be creative with photographs. This is what is the biggest selling point of my CV. I cut the background out of a photograph of me next to my Artist’s Statement and put it into greyscale. I virtually framed a couple of my paintings too. They are my biggest selling point at the moment, so I see no reason for them not to be put onto my CV. I also cut out the background of a photograph of me painting. I kept the painting in full colour, and greyscaled myself. I guess it says “my art speaks for me”.

4. Do your research about where you are applying to. Angle your CV to bring out qualities that are important to that institution. But don’t fabricate information, tell the facts as they are.

5. Keep your CV focussed. Don’t be a Jack of all trades but a Master of none. I cut out the paragraph detailing my current work on this CV. I feel I have learned a lot in my role as a Submissions Assistant, but can see how galleries would fail to see the relevance.

6. Oh my gosh, proof read your CV! Or get someone else to. Learn how to use that apostrophe correctly. Learn the difference between you’re and your. It’s not that difficult!

7. Show your enthusiasm. I know. Risky.
But right now, my enthusiasm is what is getting me places. People like enthusiastic, friendly people and want to work with them and give them opportunities. On applying for a display space recently in Reading, I was incredibly enthusiastic. Embarassingly so. I was excitable and probably showed my naivety, but received the following as a reply:

“You sound a really enthusiastic and friendly person, just what we need!! Look forward to meeting you soon, oh, and don’t change a thing, you’re fine as you are!”

Wouldn’t you rather buy artwork from someone who loves what they do than someone who is just doing it to pay the bills? I know I would.

*Disclaimer: I don’t know if this will work. Please don’t blame me if you follow my tips and your CV does get put to the bottom of the pile. Maybe galleries and agents are not kindred spirits. Maybe they really do want lists and no formatting. It’s surely worth a shot though, right?

How to paint a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel

You may have spotted him at the Fayre, or you may just be coming across him now. This is Bertie the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy. Judging by his expression, he knows he is royalty. He has a grumpy ‘superior than thou’ expression and gangly legs. Admit it, he is absolutely adorable!

You will need:

  • A lot of time and patience
  • 30cm x 40cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Acrylic Paint:
    • White
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Burnt Umber
    • Raw Umber
    • Rich Gold
    • Mars Black
    • Cadmium Red

1. Choose your composition: I didn’t have to crop my photograph as it was already a closely cropped image. The customer asked me to keep the background exactly as it was. 
bertie

2. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same. You will probably have to crop parts of your photo and expand it to fill the space.

3. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

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4. Paint the background: The customer wanted the background painted exactly as in the photograph. This was a pink rug and a window. To paint the rug I used various shades of pink and red, and a small round paintbrush to rub the paint in spirals into the canvas. To paint the window, I used a lot of masking tape, a steady hand, and about 50 shades of grey ;-).

5. Begin painting in the beautiful curly ears. This is using a range of rich siennas, raw and burnt umber, gold, flesh tint, etc. Use little round brushes and short curly strokes with a slightly watery paint.

Extend the shades onto the face around the eyes, leaving the nose and a stripe up the forehead in white. Concentrate on the direction of the hairs in the photograph – the top of the ears stick upwards and are paler.

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6. Rim the eyes with a near-black (black mixed with brown or blue or yellow.) Start to paint them in in shades of deep grey to bring out the spherical shape. Put glints in the eyes to bring them to life.

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7.Paint the body in grey. Once you have the grey base you can use paler greys and flesh tint to pick out lighter sections and shadows using a small round brush.

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8. Paint in the nose – make the nostrils a deep black, with a black line up the middle. The rest is a deep grey in a rounded heart shape. Pick out white glints to make it look damp.

Bring out the characteristic downturned mouth. King charles spaniels look grumpy. Really cute, but grumpy. Play on that!
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9. Paint in the collar. If you use metalic paint and a bit of nifty shading, metal rings and disks look very real!

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10. Decide that following the photograph is a bad idea after all and that limbs appear to be going everywhere! Re-paint the legs by researching other photos where dogs are sitting more nicely! *please note, forward planning and a better photo can eliminate this stage!!

Bertie ARTbyIMI

11. Sniff test of approval?

Bertie and painting

How to prepare for your first art stall

Hello everybody,

This is a little guide on what I have learned for far in preparing for my first art stall at Rowledge Village Fayre. It hasn’t happened yet, so things could still go very very wrong… But I feel like I have learned a lot, so thought I would share my learnings with you today!

1. Never underestimate how much you have to invest: Bulk buying greeting cards, giclee prints and other items is EXPENSIVE. I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much everything else costs!

You know those little mounts that you get around fine art prints, and even school photographs? They are as expensive as the print itself. And they just get thrown away. Then you add plastic wallets to put them in. EX PEN SIVE.

To keep my (and the customer’s) costs down, I got plastic wallets and just plain cardboard which I attached photo corners to to keep the print secure… considerably reducing the price of presentation of each print, but not impacting on how professional they still look.

2. People need to be shown exactly how to display your goods: Don’t leave it up to imagination, if your prints look great with a black frame and a smart mount, show people by investing in a nice frame. I am getting an A3 kingfisher framed to show people just how fantastic it looks. As proud painter and owner of the original, I hate to say it, but the framed print looks better!

3. The most simple of stalls still has many complex things holding it together. How do you create height to make an interesting display? How do you make all of your products look professional? How do you catch people’s eye in the first place? How do you hang items? Next time you visit a stall, look at all of these things. They all take lots of planning and lots of cost, especially the first time round.

I am planning on using coloured boxes to display my prints, cards and paintings at different heights on the table. I have borrowed two three-panel boards from my mum to hang my paintings off. I have drawn birds eye views of where the table, easel, boards and stock will go. Next weekend I plan on having a practice set up of everything to see how it all looks together.

4. Your painting time will seriously suffer: I am spending so much of my time thinking, writing blogs and newsletters, planning and buying for the fayre that any time spent actually painting is very limited. Someone once told me that when starting a new art business, about 50% of your time will be taken up with running the business, not actually painting. More like 80%!

5. Test the market by getting greeting cards in many many designs: A good quality place will send proofs through to you to make sure the colours are right before you buy. The proofs of mine are done and look great! I am getting between ten and twenty of each card, because who am I to say what people will like the best? I know which are my favourites, but which are yours?

6. Email addresses of interested customers are like gold dust: Create a newsletter so you can get people to subscribe to it – emails and advertising! In my opinion, my newsletter is full of interest and creativity, and I enjoy reading it… but for those that need extra incentive, I am choosing one lucky subscriber at random to win a painting on June 1st. I will tell every customer about this amazing opportunity so hopefully I will get lots of interest!

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7. The little details will make you memorable: In each print and each greeting card, I am putting one of my business cards with a handwritten note saying “thank you for your custom!” or similar. I really really appreciate ANYONE who buys from me and supports my business, no matter how small a purchase. Even just a like on facebook. I appreciate it all! So tell them.

8. Be prepared for your boyfriend to appoint himself Managing Director and Marketing Manager of your company: I actually got told to “check with me before you make any business decisions please.” He was being serious. His Dad also seems to have appointed himself ‘Marketing Executive’… I feel there may be competition!

What important lessons have you learned in the lead up to a big event?

Pick up a paintbrush and paint a penguin

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been painting an African Penguin skipping on a beach and eating a tasty fish.

The photograph was lent to me by a man at work. I loved the beautiful lights on the water, the pastel colours of the background contrasted with the black and white of the penguin. It was an exciting project and a brand new challenge to me.

The perks of being an Artist over a photographer though, are you can eliminate the tell-tale signs of captivity – the tag on the wing, the half masticated fish. I could also get rid of imperfections like the irregular beak and the red eye.
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The result – quite pleasing if you ask me!

You will need:

  • About 50 hours.
  • 50 x 50cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Rubber
  • Acrylic paint for sea:
    • White
    • Deep Turquoise
    • Process Cyan
    • Flesh Tint
    • Leaf Green
    • Phthalo Turquoise
    • Cadmium Yellow
  • Sand:
    • Burnt Umber
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Flesh Tint
    • Rich Gold
    • White
    • Mars Black
    • Silver
  • Penguin:
    • Mars Black
    • White
    • Flesh Tint
    • Metallic Blue
    • Silver
    • Burnt Umber
    • Burgandy
  • Fish
    • Silver
    • Leaf Green
    • Burgandy
    • White

A fully stocked artist’s box is not a bad thing – makes all that paint so much more affordable over many years.

  1. Draw up your canvas: see here for a detailed how to guide!
    IMAG0950
  2. Paint in the water: Firstly do a colour wash in a pale blue, then use a large flat brush to paint horizontal strips of colour in varying shades across the area. The photograph was better than life – with gorgeous shades of green, yellow, blue and even peach.  The trick is keeping all the brushstrokes in the same direction and building up layers and layers which takes hours but is worth it!
    water
     
  3. Paint in the sand: Paint a colour wash in flesh tint over the area. They use a variety of rounded brushes to paint speckles of varying browns, silvers, white, sand colours over the entire area. This requires you building up layers, even more so than the sea. You will probably get impatient like I did and have to do this over several sessions. Keep referring back to your photograph to get big stones etc in the right place.Then paint the shadow. The trick here is to create a really watery black paint, with absolutely no white in it to make it creamier. Just neat black with water. Then use a flat brush to wipe this over the area so that all the stones and sand can still be seen through.
    sand
  4. Paint the wings: First do a wash in black. Then use slightly paler purple and bluey shades to create volume and areas of light. On the near wing, use metallic blue and silver paint to give it a wet look, and paint a white strip where the sun bounces off it. Keep all of your brush strokes horizontal to match with the direction of the feathers.
    wings 
  5. Paint the back: If you refer back to the photograph, you will see lots and lots of black feathers standing on end, glistening with oil and sunlight. To capture this, do a black colour wash, then use a little round brush and dab lines of small silver, grey and white dots to act as the tips of every feather. Going further down the back, the feathers lie flatter, so use longer brush strokes, angling them diagonally down the back.
    IMAG0980 
  6. Paint the softer white areas: Use white paint with a teeny bit of black mixed in to create areas of shadow. African Penguins have little grey speckles on their bellies too, so be sure to show this in your painting.
    IMAG0988
  7. Paint the face: Use the same technique as the back to create an area of light and areas of shadow on the face.
    IMAG0990
  8. Paint in the beak: I went off photo for the beak, to find a more visually pleasing one on another African Penguin! Use black, grey and silver, score likes and texture into it, and leave a gap between the top and bottom beak to show the background through. IMAG0995
  9. Paint in the fish! The original photo had a cooked and half cut up piece of fish. I wanted a fresh fish in my picture, so found one on the internet. Use shiny silver and pale greens to capture the beautiful shimmer of the scales.
    IMAG0999IMAG1020
  10. Paint in the feet: Use similar colours to paint the feet, carefully following the photograph to create mottled skin.
    Penguin ARTbyIMI

Ta daaaa

What do you think of my p p p penguin?

And more importantly, what should I name him?

 

 

How to paint a Tawny… Owl by yourself!

As promised, I have been a busy bee over the bank holiday weekend as it is now officially April, my Month of Paint! I finished off painting this little cutie today. His name is Nelson, not after Mandela, but my Grannie, who loved all owls.

If you pay particular attention throughout this guide, you can see me sporting a lovely range of pyjamas. I really am spoiling you.

You will need:

  • About 30 hours!
  • 30cm x 40cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Background Acrylic Paint:
    • Cadmium Red
    • Burgandy
  • Owl Acrylic Paint:
    • White
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Burnt Umber
    • Raw Umber
    • Rich Gold
    • Mars Black
    • Hooker Green (small amount)

Canvas Preparation

1. Choose your composition. I cropped my photograph really close so I could focus on the face and feathers and have as little background as possible.

Nelson the tawny photo
I grid up my photographs using microsoft word

2. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same. You will probably have to crop parts of your photo and expand it to fill the space.

3. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

IMAG0911
I just draw the main lines and markings

Painting the background

1. Mix Cadmium Red and double quantities of Burgundy together with a bit of water. This creates a beautiful rich damson colour. You can add a hint of white to make it more creamy.

2. Paint about four layers of paint over your background area. This will create a solid matte colour. Hold it up to the light. Can you see through it? If so, paint another layer!

IMAG0918
You can overlap the foreground as you will paint over this later.

Painting the owl

At first glance, I thought… how on earth am I going to get everything in the right place?! There is so much going on!
Then I chilled out a bit and decided to take a little bit at a time. What a life lesson.

1. Use masking tape to section off areas to paint: I started from the bottom taking the right hand corner, and gradually worked my way up the canvas in 5cm strips, completing each strip before moving onto the next.
IMAG0920
My art gear of choice was blue striped pyjamas. 

2.  Start with a wash of Burnt Umber mixed with white. This creates a brilliant basis to build up layers of white feathers over the top.
IMAG0921
The more layers you build up, the fluffier it will look

3. Use a cocktail stick to create finer lines and texture in the feathers. Scratch the black bards into place using a near black. Scratch little flicks of white feathers. Some feathers will look softer and fluffier, so use a little paintbrush to achieve this look.

Who would think my pyjamas would be so famous!
Who would think my pyjamas would be so famous!

4. Complete the whole strip using the same techniques, making sure the black and brown bards are painted into the right place. Keep referring back to your photograph – it’s only a little section, you can get everything in the right place easily!

IMAG0924
My photography skills are second to none.

5. Section off the strip above using masking tape. Paint on any bards and darker areas of feathers, blending them into the finished part below.

Be careful to blend the two sections together or you will get a visible line.
Be careful to blend the two sections together or you will get a visible line.

6. Build up layers using streaks of white and tan colours, using your cocktail stick to make texture and individual feathers. The body of the owl is generally paler and greyer, and becomes more coloured and brown towards the face.

IMAG0928
You can see that by taking it section by section, you can get it really accurate.

7. Introduce browns and golds to the upper chest area, below the face. The feathers here are darker, with more golden pigments than the lower belly (all very technical terms!). Make the paint really nice and thick, building up the layers with differing shades. Use your cocktail stick to introduce little speckles to the feathers.  Please keep referring to your photograph to get markings in exactly the right place. I assure you that patience is the only way to get a photo-realistic finish.

IMAG0929IMAG0930
With a little patience, the feathers are not as daunting as they first seem.

8. Begin on the facial disk. Below the face is a white fluffy curve, framing the cute little face. Use really thick white paint here and score shapes into it using a cocktail stick. Then add black, gold and brown mottles to it on top of the thick wet white paint.
IMAG0934
You can see the glints of gold I am starting to work in. 

9. Paint the area surrounding the beak a pale browny grey. Then score thin white and darker grey hairs into it to make it textured and fluffy.
IMAG0936
Use a cocktail stick to create texture.

10. Surround the eyes with tan, white and pale brown paint, using longer curved brush strokes  Continue to build up layer upon layer, with paler colours on the top layers. Paint the brown strip down the middle of the face, and overlap the face hairs to create a semi-symmetrical pattern.
IMAG0940
Keep painting on layer after layer for thick fluffy fur.

11. Paint the eyes deep black, then rim them with pale grey. Create pale grey glints in the eyes to make them look glassy and real. Put grey lines above and below to define the eye socket.
IMAG0942
He just came to life when I painted in the eyes.

12. Paint the disk surrounding the face, using small dabs of tans, browns and black. Again, continue to build up layers, joining the face and the surrounding disk with a darker join. Put dabs of gold into it to make the painting really eye catching.
IMAG0944
At this point, my dad normally starts going “its very clever”

13. Paint the visible wing with a brown wash, then dab several layers in shades of light brown and tan into it.
IMAG0945
Do you see the resemblance?!

14. Mix up a pale yellowy green for the beak. Put shadows in a more grey green and a highlight in a paler colour down the middle of the beak, then paint on little nostrils using near black paint.
IMAG0947
Are they called nostrils??

15. Neaten up any smudges on the background and then SIGN!
Nelson ARTbyIMI
I am a little bit in love with little Nelson 

Let me know what you think, and stay tuned for lots of updates throughout April, my Month of Paint! 

How to paint a Golden Retriever

This guide tells you how I painted Annie the Golden Retriever for my Godmother. She is a friendly energetic dog and very much loved. I finally got to see her today to hand over my masterpiece.

You will need:

  • Paint – Dog: Flesh tint, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, White, Mars Black, Burgandy, Violet, Rich Gold
    Grass: Sap Green, Olive Green Burgandy, Violet, Lemon Yellow, Raw Umber etc.
  • A Canvas –  I use 30cmx40cm as standard
  • Playmat – I use a big old plastic table cloth
  • Paintbrushes – a large flat one and a variety of small round ones.
  • A pot of water
  • A palette – I use foil cases from quiches.
  • A photograph to copy – I have mine up on my laptop screen with gridlines drawn on
  • A pencil
  • A ruler.

Canvas Preparation

1. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same. You will probably have to crop parts of your photo and expand it to fill the space. With this painting, I made the call that the edge of the paws could be missed out to make the rest of the dog fit onto the canvas.

IMAG0867_1[1]

2. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

Painting Grass

If your background is grass, you can follow this guide for long grass, and this guide for short grass.

IMAG0881[1]

Painting a Golden Retriever  

1. Paint areas of shadow on the face with a grey / Flesh Tint, Burgandy mix. The areas around the nose seem to be darker, whereas under the eyes is blonder.

IMAG0882[1]

2. Use paler colours on areas of light (Flesh Tint, White, Raw Umber) and small sweeping brushstrokes with a little rounded brush to create fine hairs all over the face, concentrating on areas of light and shadow. Outline the nose in a near black, and use black to draw the gums. Use small dots of white to create hair follicles around the nose.

IMAG0883[1]

3. Continue adding layers of hair and volume on the face, and rim the eye in black with a gentler grey surround.

IMAG0884[2]

4. Start to paint the ear. Firstly paint a short colour wash in a mix of Raw Umber, Burgandy, Burnt Umber, with the ear becoming darker and more shadowy towards the bottom. Then when that is dry, create little curlier hairs in white, Flesh Tint and Raw Umber.

IMAG0886[1]

5. Start to paint down towards the dog’s chest using your big flat paintbrush. Using Violet mixed with white creates really natural looking areas of shadow for a predominantly white chest.

IMAG0887[1]

6. Lengthen areas of shadow (greys, Violet, Burgandy, Flesh Tint etc) up the dog’s back and towards her paws.

IMAG0889[1]

7. Pay attention to the direction of the hairs and blanched out areas. Little curly patterns of hairs formed on the back of this photograph, so I used longer brushstrokes in a roundabout motion to capture this.

IMAG0891[1]

8. Keep adding layer after layer to make the painting look really 3D and fluffy. Work over the shadow with lighter tones, using little sweeping brushstrokes.

IMAG0893[1]

9. Continue the shadow down the legs using a grey based paint. Create lots of individual hairs with a watery white / Flesh Tint, going lighter and lighter towards the paws.

IMAG0895[1]

10. Lengthen strands of grass to come over the dog’s body to join background and foreground together.

IMAG0899[1]

11. The dog’s eye was a REAL challenge for me. I know it looks fairly done in the photos above but it just wasn’t quite right. I ended up painting over it entirely to try again. It put about five hours onto the end of my painting. I had to study other photographs of Annie to appreciate her nutty brown eye colour – which didn’t come across in the photo I was copying. Anyway, I am finally pleased with it.

eyes

FINITO. I estimate this took me about 30-35 hours although I never keep proper tabs on these things.

Annie 2 ARTbyIMI

Please let me know what you think!

How to paint long grass in acrylic

I have already written a How to paint grass guide here.
It may surprise you to know that this is my most popular post ever, so I thought I would write another focussing on long grass. It is a different technique and a new skill to learn after all.

You will need:

  • Paint for Grass: Sap Green, Olive Green, Burgandy, Violet, Lemon Yellow, Raw Umber, burnt umber, black, etc.
  • A Canvas –  I use 30cmx40cm as standard
  • Playmat – I use a big old plastic table cloth
  • Paintbrushes – a large flat one and a variety of small round ones.
  • A pot of water
  • A palette – I use foil cases from quiches.
  • A photograph to copy – I have mine up on my laptop screen with gridlines drawn on
  • A pencil
  • A ruler.

Canvas Preparation

1. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same.

2. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

Painting Long Grass

1. Create a colour wash over the grass area in a watered down sap green using a large flat brush.

IMAG0871_1[1]

Here you can see the watery wash over the background

2. Start to pick out areas of light and dark with a small rounded paintbrush. Use gentle dabbing with your paintbrush in a watery white to create little soft focus flowers.

IMAG0873_1[1]

In the right hand corner you can see the beginnings of flowers

3. Pay attention to the direction of the grass, and use a variety of watery shades and a quick sweeping  movement to get that feeling of motion.

IMAG0876_1[1]

Here you can see the grass being blown around through the directions of my brushstrokes

4. Make glints of sunlight with a Rich Gold paint, and break up dark shadow with longer strands of grass in paler colours 

IMAG0881[1]

Have a look at part 2 – Finishing the Golden Retriever. 
I haven’t yet given her to her owner so can’t ruin the surprise on here!!

How to paint a golden pheasant

I painted a golden pheasant to enter into the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition 2013. It is on a 70cm x 70cm canvas, and it used a lot of paint! But I am pleased with it, so thought I would share with you today how it was born.

 You will need:

  • A 70cm x 70cm canvas
  • Your photograph with gridlines drawn on, (this can be on your laptop screen)
  • Lots and lots of colours of acrylic paint (including GOLD, purple and yellow 🙂
  • A palette (I use empty foil dishes from quiches. My parents are quiche fans!)
  • Water
  • Masking tape
  • A variety of sizes of paintbrushes (large flat ones, a set of varying sizes of little rounded ones)
  • A playmat!
  1. Firstly I drew up my canvas, gridding on the main outlines of the bird and the many different sections of feathers to the corresponding square on my photograph.

    IMAG0777[2]

  2. Next I did a thin colour wash on each section. A bit like painting by numbers!
    IMAG0793[1]
  3. With the section of thin yellow feathers on his back, I firstly painted the section a darkish yellowy browny colour. I then used a little round brush and pale yellows and oranges to swipe little feathers onto the canvas. This part took ages as I really wanted it to match the photograph totally.
    IMAG0795[1]

     

  4. With the orange feathers with purple tips, I firstly painted it orange. I then sectioned off parts using masking tape as it all looked the same! This enabled me to paint the purple patterns onto the canvas in exactly the right place.

    IMAG0799[1]

  5. After I had finished this, I proceeded to go over and over this section with swipes of white, yellow, orange and gold to make the feathers look 3D. I used blue, purple and metalic blue on the tips, again using a little rounded brush.

    IMAG0811[1]

  6. With the blue feathers at the bottom, I used varying shades of blues and purple and white to create large feather shapes.
  7. With the pink feathers, I used the little rounded brush again, with a mix of purple, magenta and white feathers, constantly referring to the photograph to get areas of light and dark in the correct place

    IMAG0812[1]

  8. With the narrow blue feathers above the yellow section and below the orange section (I am losing track too!) I firstly painted it dark blue. Then I used metallic blue mixed with normal blue and a touch of white to create a 3D effect when I painted each feather shape.
  9. Next I concentrated on the face , using my littlest brush, and a range of browns and purples and my favourite colour, flesh tint! I used little curly brush strokes to make the face fluffy.
    IMAG0813[1]
  10. I painted the eye using white with a hint of green, to create a pale aqua. I made sure to put a little white gleam on the pupil.
  11. I used a fairly large round brush and thick yellow paint to create the mohawk, using long sweeping brushstrokes in varying shades of yellow. I then used white paint to create strands of hair caught by the light.
    IMAG0818[1]
  12. Finally, with the beak, I used browns and gold paint to create a shiny pointy beak.
  13. Its not my normal style, but I painted the background last! Im normally a firm believer in painting backgrounds first. However, I really couldnt decide what to do with it. I plumped with a base of sap green, using my hands to rub in lighter areas with white and yellow and darker areas with purple to create a soft focus.
    goldenpheasantjan13wm

Ta daaa – Hope you liked the guide and let me know what you think!
I will keep you posted on how I do in the competition!

How to paint a Cairn Terrier

This guide tells you how I set about painting a little golden terrier for a lady at my work. A repeat customer, previous owner of a lovely lemur. It was a present to her in laws for Christmas.

With this painting, we decided together to keep the background plain, to keep the costs and painting time down. You can see here that this backfired disastrously as it took twice as long to do. No, I don’t know how either!

You will need:

  • paint: I used System 3 acrylic paint in the following colours:

Mars Black, Titanium White, Flesh Tint, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber,
Velvet Purple, Cadminium Red, Burnt Sienna, Rich Gold, Magenta, etc.

  • A variety of paintbrushes
  • Masking tape
  • Water
  • Play mat
  • Easel
  • photograph or photographs of your subject
  • a canvas
    rosie photo

1. Grid up and draw out your canvas. You can read a detailed post how to do this here.
Basically, it used to involve a ruler, a photograph, a pencil and a canvas and a bit of maths.

Recently, my printer has become broken and I have become lazy, so I draw up a rather sneaky grid on my computer (an exact scale of my 30cm x 40cm canvas) and then crop and shrink my photograph to fit it on the screen.

Why did I never think of it before?!

IMAG0753

It does always help to have a print out though, or else your laptop will start to look a bit like mine. (Covered in paint and quite broken…)

1. Paint in the background using a large flat brush. So far I have done posts on how to do leaves and grass. This background was plain, so I mixed up some damson paint (magenta, a bit of black and a bit of violet) and painted the entire background in one matte colour.

Don’t worry too much if the background goes into your dog- that’s why you put it on first!

To paint the dog, I used my brand new posh paintbrushes that I got for my birthday, and WOW they made a difference. Such a pleasure to use them, and they made really lovely fine strokes that looked just like fine hairs. Maybe this painting was only good because of these lovely paintbushes. Who knows…

1. Start with the tail. I did the dark area of shadow first in burnt umber and black, before using raw umber, flesh tint, white etc to weave in some lighter shades.

IMG-20121216-WA0005

2. Create a wash in raw sienna over the dogs back, then extend your little brushstrokes round using a series of little sweeping brushstrokes in burnt umber, burnt sienna and raw sienna and flesh tint, gradually using lighter shades towards the dog’s main body.

IMG-20121216-WA0004

3. This type of terrier’s back has a speckle of several different colours through it- grey, golden shades and cream shades. Start by painting a wash in grey over the back, before using your little rounded paintbrush to blend and weave other colours in.

IMG-20121216-WA0002

4. The tummy was softer and longer fur, so use longer motions, still using your small round brush in shades of brown and creams to achieve this look
IMG-20121216-WA0007

6. The ears had the shortest hair, more like velvety fur. Use only tiny brush strokes in slightly more golden, darker colours to create this.

7. The paws also have quite short hair, so a very small brush should be used with small repetitive movements to achieve this look. Keep referring back to your photograph, zooming in on the screen to make sure that you have got the shape of the paws right, and the number of pads etc. An owner will always know if it’s not quite right!

IMAG0756

7. The face had a large variety of different colours. The hair is long again on the face, and droops downwards, so be sure to show this using downwards motions with your brush.

Around the ears, there were complex areas of shadow in the folds, and the hair goes in a variety of directions. Pay particular attention to your photograph to get this bit spot on.

The dog also had a cute fluffy pale beard, so use flesh tint, raw sienna and white to create this.

IMAG0757

8. The eyebrows were paler than the rest of the face, and long and droopy. Use long sweeping brushstrokes to frame the eye, then sweep them outwards like whiskers.

IMAG0760

9. The dog had big dark eyes that looked down and were hidden by eyebrow. Firstly I painted in dark grey eyes, with neat black to rim them. I then picked out glints of white, around the bottom of the eyeballs. I then used my artistic licence to add glints of white on the round of the eyeball to give the impression that the dog was looking directly at you.

IMAG0762

10. Paint the nose big and grey, then frame the bottom in black paint and a little inverted u for each nostril. The dog’s fur extended into the nose at the top, so I used my little round paintbrush to put in some hairs and some glints of white.

IMAG0761

11. Add long pale droopy hairs and whiskers around the mouth, nose and ears, using your littlest paintbrush and watered down paint to get really smooth lines.

12. Finally draw the dogs shadow, using a very  thin wash of a dark brown or black, with no white shades in it. This will make the dog look 3D and stand out from the canvas.

Rosiepainting

How to paint a fluffy cat

Hello all,

Last month, I painted my first cat, Spike, as a Christmas commission for a man at work.

Spike is a big black and white cat with very long fluffy fur.

I hope you enjoy this guide!

You will need:

  • Paint:I used System 3 acrylic paint in the following colours:Mars Black, Titanium White, Flesh Tint, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber
    Velvet Purple, Cadminium Red, Burnt Sienna, Copper, Sap Green, Lemon Yellow…
  • A variety of paintbrushes: Big flat brush ones, and little rounded ones for detail.
  • Masking tape
  • Water
  • Play mat
  • Easel
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Photographs: a main one and secondary ones to give you different areas of detail.
  • Canvas: I used 30cm x 40cm

catforpeter

  1. Grid up and draw out your canvas. You can see a guide how to do this here.
    The trick is to get your drawing at exactly the same point in the grid as the photograph.
    It is honestly easier than it seems!
    IMAG0671
  2. Start blocking in your background, With this painting, I painted a garden background, similar to the jungle background I painted here.
    I initially did plain dark colours and then painted leaf shapes on top.
    One side of the photograph was lighter with more yellowy greens, the other darker with purpley greens.
    The darker side (left hand side) was surprisingly easy, all I needed to do was paint star shapes on a dark background in purples and dark greens, and they looked like ivy leaves.
    Background
  3. Paint in the post. For this, your masking tape will come in handy to get really clean lines and angles.
    Concentrate on areas of light and dark, going up to almost white for the flat of the post, and to burnt umbers and black in the shadows.
    Post
  4. Start on the tail. I initially painted the dark area black before adding reds, browns and pale colours into it, creating layer upon layer of paint to make the hair really realistic.
    I then created thin white hairs over the dark areas to create the effect of the tail being caught by the light.
    Tail
  5. Extend the pale area of the tail up; mix greys and creams and continue to use thick layers of paint, and your cocktail stick to create individual hairs.
  6. Start on the dark patch on the back. Paint in the patch in black using a big brush before adding detail – this ensures that no part of the canvas will remain unpainted.
    If you look closely at the photograph, there were lots of red shades in this patch, which show that it is sitting in direct sunlight.
    Use burnt sienna mixed with extra red to achieve a variety of warm browns.
    Then pick out individual hairs in white paint again to show glints of sun.
    Back
  7. Paint the face near black using a big brush, leaving a white stripe up the nose. Weave in different dark shades using a little rounded brush, and create pale tufty ear hairs using your cocktail stick.
    IMAG0734
    The cat also had a little fluffy black beard, which I had to really refer to the photograph to get in exactly the right place and at the right angle – pet owners will always know! I then painted in the cats upper lip, where the whiskers grow from, using a pale grey with lines of white dots for the whiskers roots.
  1. Create block areas of white, cream and grey on the upper chest, then weave together using a small rounded brush and long brushstrokes. I then mixed in a bit of purple paint to make the areas of shadow more real and deep. Make the hairs fan outwards to make it look really fluffy.IMAG0736
  2. Extend the cream, white and grey fluffy hairs down the cats tummy. I also mixed in browns, as it was darker, soft fluffy hair which angled downwards towards the paws.
    IMAG0739
  3. Paint in the paws. They are predominantly pale, with very short hair. Create the pads with shades of browns and purple, blending the shadow into the paw using a little rounded brush.
  4. Paint in the eyes. These are so important to get right because they are such distinguishing characteristics. The cat had big green eyes, so I painted in the colour, then lined the eyes in black paint. As the cat was outside, its pupils were thin slits, so a small brush and a steady hand was needed. Finally a little white glint in each eye.
    DSC_0152head
  5. For the nose, use pink, flesh tint and a bit of brown paint to create a little triangle. Put in two round nostrils, then flick this to the outside to line the nose.
  6. Finally put in long white whiskers, coming out of the eyebrows and the face. You can even use masking tape to make these lines cleaner.
    DSC_0152 - Copywm

Ta Da!! Stay tuned for part 2 of my how to guides, Rosie the terrier 🙂

Imi x

How to paint a greyhound

This guide shows you how I painted Frosts the greyhound. I hope you enjoy it.

You will need:

  • paint: I used System 3 acrylic paint in the following colours:

    Mars Black, Titanium White, Flesh Tint, Burnt Sienna,
    Velvet Purple, Cadminium Red, Burnt Sienna, Rich Gold, Magenta, etc.

  • a variety of paintbrushes
  • Masking tape
  • Water
  • Play mat
  • Easel
  • photograph (this is a cropped version, see below)
  • a canvas

Choose a good composition: This is so important and is so frequently overlooked (…by me…)! Play to your strengths – if you are good at painting animals, don’t chose a composition which is mainly background (that is a note to ME!) I ended up cropping the photograph was trying to replicate to just include the dog’s face and a bit of its body.

the first composition


the second composition

Mark up your canvas: You can see how to do this here. It is a very easy way of ensuring everything is in the right place and in perfect perspective.

Paint in the background: It is easier to just do a plain colour wash, using a variety of shades – creams, golds, ivory etc.
Of course… I chose to do a grassy field, an edit from the original photograph – a muddy field. Always one for the easy option, me! See how I did it here.

After you have completed the background, start painting in simple areas of light and shadow on the dogs back. Use pale colours like Flesh Tint, Burnt Sienna and White, along with blues, purples, browns, greys etc for the areas of shadow.

Use your initiative: on the photograph I used, there were unnatural areas of shadow. They just did not look right taken out of the context of the photograph, so I removed them from my painting.

The painting was then looking really patchy, so I kept working on the dogs back to blend it, to make it all look realistic.
The nose: The nose on the photograph had very clear areas of dark and shine, which I duplicated using black, white and a bit of blue paint. I then carried the shading in grey around the dogs nose.

Paint in the areas of shadow and light on the face: Dont worry if it is really exaggerated at the moment, you can blend in another colour with a small paintbrush to soften the appearance later.

Greyhounds have characteristic muscular bodies and strong cheekbones. Create an area of shadow behind the cheekbone in purples and browns,and a highlight on it to capture this essence.

Put thin colour washes over it if the dogs coat doesn’t seem to be the right shade: These are made from a small amount of paint and mainly water. They can easily be blended in with fingers or a large paintbrush.

Paint the dark areas on the ear: Dark paint should always go down first when using acrylic. Really pay attention to your photograph, keep referring to it to make sure you are getting the colour matches right. Blend areas with your fingers to create a more even and natural finish.

Outline the shape of the eye using near-black paint: black with a bit of blue or brown in it. I put a thin line on top of the eye to create an eye lid too. Then you can use grey to create a spherical shape to the eye. Add a big white glint to make it come alive.

Create light areas on the ear: using flesh tint and white and burnt sienna. Use a small paintbrush and a repetitive motion. I like the liken the motion to plucking your eyebrows – quick, confident motions in the same area in a variety of similar shades. You can then start to add other colours like purple using the same motion. Dogs ears are tricky, so don’t lose confidence if it doesn’t look quite right, you can work over it again and again – that’s the beauty of acrylic!

Pick out individual hairs: As greyhounds have short hair, its difficult to really pick out individual hairs, so make sure you pick these out on areas around the nose and eyebrows. You can use watered down paint to do this to create really defined hairs.

Make a start on the mouth: I left this until near to last as it uses vibrant colours that I didn’t want to bleed into the rest of my palette. I started by painting the black gums and shadow in the mouth.

The tongue: this was tricky as it was folded over creating lots of different shades of red in the mouth. Really pay attention to the photo, using magenta, red, white and Flesh Tint.

The teeth: get the shape right and use greys, Flesh tint and white to create shadow and a glint on the teeth. Teeth are never white. Nor should they be, it is unnatural, especially for a dog.

The collar: This was metal, which was tricky. I really need to invest in some silver paint. I love metallic paint, it is so useful! Even for painting animals!

You have to be really blunt with areas of white, black and grey. Use a really little paintbrush to create shadow around the edges of each loop and a glint in white. I then created each hoop in white and shaded around each one. I made sure that I counted the loops on the photograph and put the exact same number on my painting. It just wont look right if you cut corners, tempting as it seems.

And there we have it, please tell me what you think!