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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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!
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  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.
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    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 grass in acrylic

Once you know how to do it, its easy.
The secret lies in the range of colours you use.

You will need:

  • a photograph to copy from
  • a large flat paintbrush
  • a small rounded paintbrush
  • water
  • a palette or makeshift palette (foil quiche case!)
  • a range of green acrylic paints
    Do not use greens in the emerald spectrum.
    No Hooker Green, no Phthalo Green.It will make the grass look artificial, or like it has spent too much time hanging round a nuclear power plant!

    February 2012

    Although this is one of my better paintings, I really regret the grass
    but I hadn’t yet learnt my golden rule.
    The result is that it looks slightly artificial.
    You live and learn…

    Instead, choose Sap Green, Olive Green and others in that spectrum.

  • a range of brown acrylic paints
    I love Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and my secret weapon Flesh Tint!Flesh Tint is great as it adds white tones and brown tones which blend naturally with green.I also like to use gold paint  to make the grass glint.
  • Burgandy / Deep Violet acrylic paint
    Purple blends really well with browns and greens to create areas of shadow. Next time you look shadows you will notice that they are never ever black.
  • Mars Black acrylic paint
    You can use this to mix with other paints, but try not to use it neat.
  • White acrylic paint
  • Masking tape
  1. Draw out your design on your canvas. It may be helpful to put a line of masking tape along edges to stop the colour bleeding into the wrong areas.
  2. Do a colour wash in Sap Green over the entire grass area, using a large flat paintbrush. This makes sure all areas have a layer of paint. Please paint the sides of the canvas, there is nothing less professional than leaving unpainted sides… see my previous rant!
  3. Use a small paintbrush and mix up various shades of brown and green in your palette.Be adventurous, using purples and blacks too to create lots of natural shades.
  4. Using a small repetitive motion, create lots of small strokes in varying shades across the area.
  5. Make the grass darker at the bottom of the painting – potentially to near-black, and lighter at the top with whites, greens and gold shades.

Do not worry about making it too perfect. I assume you will paint something in the foreground, which will no doubt spoil your grass background slightly.

You can neaten this up later, using the same colours and the same technique of small repetitive strokes with a small paintbrush.

But… don’t rush either. Give it attention, care and patience like you would the foreground, and you will be onto a winner.

Click here for my guide on how to paint long grass in acrylic.

Click here to find out how I finished this painting of a Greyhound!

A Painting Legacy

Yesterday, I used my Grandmother’s easel.

the beginnings of a masterpiece.

 

My dad had found it tucked away in a corner of our garage (aka the assorted junk and crap room, I don’t think it had ever housed a car.) much to my delight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t think I ever saw my Grannie paint. I know her mother (mum’s very own Granny Smith) was a keen artist, so perhaps it was bought in good faith or as an experiment to see if the art genes had been carried down the family tree.

Granny Smith did some lovely paintings.

They are a different style to my own, although, like me, she focuses on painting things that bring happiness and make people feel good. Aesthetically pleasing and realistic.

Its commercial art. And it is not ashamed to be so.

People would want it on their wall. We have it on our wall.

Its not what I call “Forced Art”, like you are taught in school or college. It is quite happy existing context free.

Ceramic head – created age 15. 

Random punter: “Hey Imogen, what were you thinking when you made a screaming, paint-splattered ceramic head with severed hands?! It must have been a horrific time in your life!”
Me: “Not really… I was probably wondering what was for tea.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I like to think I am now carrying on Granny Smith’s legacy. Or my own Grannie’s legacy. One of the two.

It makes me sad that I never asked her whether she painted.
If she actually used that easel.

So from now on, whenever I use it, I will think of them. While I carry on making my commercial art. Art that doesn’t really tell a story, but the important thing is, it doesn’t try to either.

Whats more, its truly a delight to use. What luxury not to be hunched over painting and getting back ache. People should have thought of this centuries ago…

its coming on 🙂