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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

So stuck in my complex niche that simplicity is now… difficult.

Hello three readers! Or are there four of you? Speak up! Dont be shy!

I can only apologise for my lengthy absence.

My excuse? Not that I have been slacking, that’s for sure!
I have plenty to share with you all… I just cant share it… yet.

I will give you a hint though.
I have been a busy busy bee and…
done two new (super super!) paintings, and created two new lovely “how to” guides!

That’s a pretty hefty hint!

The snag is that I cannot share them, due to the (unlikely) event that one of my avid readers (!) might well be receiving them for Christmas (no, its not you mum!)

So instead, I will leave you with this.

Why is it that a detailed background…
Detailed (Adjective): developed or executed with care and in minute detail.

Is easier and faster for me to paint than a plain background?
Plain (Adjective): Not decorated or elaborate; simple or ordinary in character.

Let me elaborate.

Painting an entire:

cat background

The whole background was complicated leaves

is quicker than painting an entire:

rosie background

The most detail was my signature in the corner

I am so reliant on copying photographs that I freak out when I have to do the simplest bit of improvisation.

I happily painted a garden background, but painting a single colour threw me.
It made me sulk. It stressed me out.

I put down my paintbrush in a huff. I left it until the next day.

I never do that!
QUE?!

Are you so practised at doing something complicated that you can now do it with ease?
Are there easy things that you make a dogs dinner of? 

I love a good discussion, so get in touch, leave a comment and let me know!

 

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!

How to… paint in a jungle background

This should really be called a “How I…” instead of a “How to…”.
I am sure that there are many ways to successfully paint a jungle background.

However, this guide shows you how I have achieved the background
on my current project,
along with some hints and tips to achieve a really professional finish.

You will need:

  • Your marked up canvas
  • Your photograph (with gridlines drawn on)
  • Lots of colours of acrylic paint
    (Blog to come about my favourite staple colours that every art box needs.)
  • A palette (I use empty foil dishes from quiches. My parents are quiche fans!)
  • Water
  • Masking tape
  • A variety of sizes of paintbrushes
  • A playmat!
    Before the existance of my playmat (a 2m squared wipable table cloth) I was not popular with my mum as my painting studio of choice is the lounge floor.
    Hello paint on the carpets!
  1. Masking tape along major outlines. Masking tape is a great way to contain your colour. I use it in copious amounts on nearly every painting I do.

    Here you can see I have masking taped along the logs before I paint the background

  2. Create a colour wash over the whole background. This is a thin layer of background colour which is spread across the whole background. Try holding the picture up to the light and see for the areas you can see through which need more colour.

    Here you can see I have painted in dark greens and purpley blacks around the lemur.

  3. Make sure you paint the sides of the canvas. It is a pet HATE of mine when I see beautiful paintings with scruffy sides. It completely detracts from the painting and it is just plain lazy. It takes two minutes more to paint the sides. DO IT!!

    Here you can see I am extending my colour wash around the sides of the painting.

  4. Start with the out of focus details first. Using a small round brush and referring back to your grid, sponge in splatters of varying yellows, greens browns and deep purples. My favourite to use are emerald green, raw sienna brown and burgandy.

    Here you can see the yellow and green smudges I am starting in the jungle background.

  5. Continue with the soft focus areas, using a variety of colours and shades. Don’t mind if your hands get messy or it doesn’t look perfect, this is the impressionist part.

    Here you can see I have copied the photograph using a variety of colours

  6. Use a variety of different paintbrushes… or fingers and sponges.  I always use my fingers to achieve a really smooth finish by rubbing paint into my canvas.

    Here you can see that I use my fingers to rub paint into the canvas.

  7. On areas of more detail, refer back to your grids in detail. If necessary, masking tape lines back in to make sure that leaves etc are in the right areas to get a truly photographic image. Use a thinner paintbrush with a round edge to paint in detailed lines.

    Here you can see I have used greens, purples, white and black to create leaves.

  8. To paint a log… Re-masking tape the area, slightly overlapping the jungle background to avoid any white lines. Mix up a range of different browns and creams, and don’t be afraid to use purples, pinks and blues in the mix. Use your fingers to really massage the paint in to allow for seamless shading around the log.

    Here you can see I re-masking taped the area, to avoid paint leaking.

  9. Remove masking tape to check on your progress, and paint on details.
    A trick I use is to use the opposite end of the paintbrush to scratch into the canvas to create a wood texture.

    Here you can see that I have finished the background.

    And now for the difficult part. The lemur.
    Although hopefully, for me, that is the easiest part.
    Leaves took me out of my comfort zone, but I think I did a good job.
    Thoughts? 

    I should have a lot of time this weekend to create my lemur,
    so that the painting is ready for my colleague upon her return from holiday.

    Stay Tuned! 🙂