Puck, a dog portrait in oil on linen panel, 8x10"

Puck, a dog portrait in oil on linen panel, 8×10″

This was a first: when I delivered the painting it made its owner cry! And hug me. And make me cry!  I know how much Puck, who is getting there up in dog years, means to his owner so I really wanted the painting to turn out well. And I got lucky; this one just seemed to paint itself. Of course I know that saying, “The more I practice, the luckier I get” which I think was true in this case. I put thought into the painting before I put any paint on the canvas and have certainly been putting in lots of practice time in the studio.

Puck, a warm up sketch, ink & watercolor, 6x8"

Puck, a warm-up sketch, ink & watercolor, 6×8″

I always start my paintings with at least one preliminary sketch to get to know the subject. I don’t try to do a perfect rendering, just a visual exploration and attempt to understand what I see.

Today was a big day for delivering commissioned and gift paintings. I delivered five: two watercolors (a large painting of a corporate headquarters commissioned for a gift to a retiring CEO, and a double portrait of two little sisters) and three oils (this and another dog portrait and a portrait of a woman as a gift for her husband).

I can’t post the others until they’ve been gifted. And I have two more dog portraits in progress. I love it!

Animals, Art business, Drawing, Oil Painting, Painting, Portrait, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 24 Comments

  1. Jana, the portrait of Puck is really wonderful!

  2. Jana,
    I’m very happy to see someone so committed with art, and able to sell. Viewing your path is easy to say that you deserve it, I see you as a very honest artist. All the best


    • Thanks Reiro for such a nice message. I am very honored when I am offered commissions and able to sell my work but I always paint for the love of painting and for the learning. Thank you for saying I am an honest artist. I like that. I try to be honest in what I say and what I paint. Just to clarify, not all of the paintings I described in the post are actually sold, some are parting gifts from me to dear work colleagues who I am going to be leaving behind to paint full time. Jana

  3. Nice Jana! Puck is a GEM. Happy to hear about all those commissions too– you go girl!!!!!

  4. It’s a lovely painting and I’m not surprised the owner cried with happiness.

  5. Your work is so inspiring! Thank you for this article. I always have a tendency to get impatient with my work or afraid of it–this post is reassurance to me that the time and practice of preliminary studies of a subject are well worth it. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • You’re so welcome. I must admit I too get impatient but always regret it when I jump in to a painting without doing preliminary work. It just never works out well. I also for quite a long time had this idea–probably because of seeing so many “daily painters” turn out a great painting in one sitting–that I should be able to do that too. I finally realized that most of the time, although I love alla prima painting, mine require additional sessions to achieve my goals.

      Interesting you mentioned “afraid of it” as this was a painting I was afraid of too. I sketched it out and did a preliminary value study on the canvas but then was afraid to go any further. Finally it was the day I just had to get it done. I put on some good music and just said “go for it.” I had thought about it for a few days and I think that extra time of conceptualizing what I wanted to do really helped me to be able to just do it. Or who knows, sometimes the graces and muses and art fairies all cooperate and move the brush like magic?

      I let it dry a day and then did a little bit of finessing, adding dark accents and highlights but mostly let it be. It was like I could do no wrong. What a gift. If only they all went that way (but then I’d probably be bored if there was no challenge). Jana

  6. Fabulous work, Jana! I have an older Jack Russell who is my “life dog”. A real sweetie, but she’s 13 now and feeling her age. I want to do a painting of her. Thanks for sharing a bit of your process. I won’t have time to focus on this until after the holidays, but it will be a wonderful winter project.

    • Hi Rita, So nice to hear from you! I have a painting of my now long gone kitty on my wall in my bedroom, painted when she was about 10 or so. I love looking at it and remembering what a wonderful creature she was. Jack Russell’s have such personality. It sounds like a wonderful project for the new year. I hope you will share it with me when you do it. I also hope that I did write back to you when you shared your artwork with me some time ago. I know I saved your message for the longest time, wanting to write and tell you how much I enjoyed seeing it. I hope I finally replied. If I didn’t, I hope you will forgive me! Jana

  7. Wonderful job, each time I see your oil work it makes me want to try working in oil. My major concern is the drying time and the need to have several paintings about my space while they all -dry. Is this a concern for you or do you use products that speed up the dry time? Just wondering…

    • Hi Kari, Great questions. I find that oils don’t take any longer to create than watercolors of the same size since I work in multiple layers on watercolors. I usually do have more than one in progress but the drying time is really pretty quick. I work in pretty thin layers initially so they usually dry overnight. The first layer is usually thinned with just odorless mineral spirits (Gamsol). Often that is the case with the second layer too, although lately I’ve been using a bit of Galkyd mixed 50/50 with Gamsol to moisten the brush and thin the paint. That does speed the drying a bit because of the alkyd content–usually dry by the next day. I don’t like stinky chemicals and this combination seems to be pretty odor free and I don’t get any sense of toxics like I did when I tried Liquin (hideous odor). If I do another layer, it is usually a little thicker in some places so might then take 2-3 days to dry.

      I’d be happy to discuss further if you want more info. I found the transition to oils really difficult until I started painting thinner. At first it was pretty funny–I was terrified to use white paint since it’s such a no-no in watercolor and yet a mainstay in oils. Now, after a couple years of practice in oils I’m feeling like I really need some practice in watercolor. I use it all the time in the my sketches but have been missing the pleasure and challenges of the more careful larger watercolors. It’s interesting how what you learn in each medium can help you improve in the other. Jana

  8. Puppy love, for sure!!

  9. What a lovely dog and a beautiful painting. Best wishes for Christmas to your all and our pet animals as well – for us it is Ozzie the rabbit and Izzie the guinea pig. I don’t care too much about the goldfish in someone’s room!

    • Your comments are always such a lovely glimpse into your world which is so different from mine. I love it! And by the way your sketches of the Grampians are amazing! Jana

  10. I love how you can move between such diverse subjects and styles. This dog portrait is gorgeous! Feel like I know that dog, and what a great background too. I will look forward to seeing your other commissions. You must have been so busy!!

    • Thanks Jennifer, Yep, I’ve definitely been busy. Feels good to slow down a bit as the last two doggies aren’t due until after Christmas. I do love diversity and always trying something new. Jana

  11. I would cry too if I got a portrait of my doggie as beautiful as this. Puck is a beauty.

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