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A Kiss from a Special Friend

I had intended this as a Valentines day post….but here it is in May! Done in Procreate on the iPad from an inspiration photo on the Sktchy app.

Animals Oil Painting Painting Sketchbook Pages

Mika, Formosan Mountain Dog Portrait

Mika, a Formosan Mountain Dog portrait in oil paint on linen panel,, 10x8 in
Mika, a Formosan Mountain Dog portrait in oil paint on linen panel,, 10×8 in

This little cutie was a fun challenge to paint. Below are some steps along the way, including the reference photos that I joined and edited in Photoshop to simplify the background and combine the tops and bottoms of her ears. Her ears were too tall in my first sketch (done in gouache in my journal). I must have added extra length when I assembled the two photos in Photoshop so edited them down to life-size in the painting.

Mika’s owner was happy with the painting and noted that Mika, who is a playful goofball in real life, seems so dignified in the painting. That gave me the idea to ask owners to also provide videos of dogs I’m to paint in the future so I can get a better sense of their personalities. I tried to include some of the family’s garden in Mika’s portrait but I struggled with getting the spring flowers to behave in the background. I painted over them with sky, planning to try them again, but when I sent Mika’s owner a photo of the painting with the sky background, she liked it better that way and so did I.

Animals Oil Painting Painting

Whiskey: A Mini-Aussie Dog Portrait

Whiskey, Portrait of Mini Aussie, oil on Gessobord panel, 8x10 inches
Whiskey, Portrait of Mini Aussie, oil on Gessobord panel, 8×10 inches

I had so much fun painting Whiskey, a Miniature Australian Shepherd, for her owner Diane. I started with a rough sketch (below) on vellum tracing paper (erases easily and is strong) and that’s when I discovered the heart-shaped spot above her nose. I’m not sure if it’s just a reflection or an actual marking in her fur but it was one of those joyful discoveries that happen when you look closely at things.

Preliminary sketch of Whiskey, graphite on vellum tracing paper, 8x10 inches
Preliminary sketch of Whiskey, graphite on vellum tracing paper, 8×10 inches

After sketching her, I printed out an 8×10″ copy of the photo and traced it onto the Gessobord using a sheet of graphite Saral Transfer Paper between the photo and the panel. Ideally I would work on a drawing until it perfectly matched the photo and then transfer the drawing to the panel, but on commissions I need to work a little more quickly than my imperfect drawing skills allow.

Below are 1) my painting and my reference photos, 2) cropped and 3) original. Isn’t she incredibly adorable!

Animals Oil Painting

Sam: A Border Collie Dog Portrait in Oils

Sam, A Dog Portrait in Oils, Oil on Panel, 8x8"
Sam, A Dog Portrait in Oils, Oil on Panel, 8×8″

I wish I had a dog but since I don’t, at least I can paint them! This dog portrait in oil was commissioned by a woman as a gift to her father-in-law of his dog. I had to wait to share it here until I was sure the painting was in the gentleman’s hands. I learned that lesson the hard way.

Once I posted a watercolor commission in progress of a house, a gift from a wife to her husband. Their daughter was searching online for the Oakland Federal Building and it led her to my sketch of that building on my blog. From there she landed on a post about spilling my coffee on the nearly completed watercolor painting of the home. She was shocked to see it was the house she’d grown up in. She called her mother right away to tell her (not her father, fortunately).

It all worked out fine in the end but I don’t post gift paintings now until they’ve been given.

Animals Oil Painting

Cocoa: A Dog Portrait

Cocoa: Dog Portrait, oil on panel, 8x8"
Cocoa: Dog Portrait, oil on panel, 8×8″

When I was given the photo of Cocoa to paint from, I pointed out that her face was covered with mud or sand. I was asked if I could paint her without the dirt. I laughed, since I’d just finished a commissioned watercolor from a photo of an industrial building that was partially hidden by cars, which they requested I remove in the painting. Since I pulled off that bit of x-ray vision (not really—I visited the facility to see what was hidden), I thought I might be able to paint a clean dog from a dirty one.

My favorite part to paint was her nose. I referred to the second photo below to see her fur color sans mud.

Cocoa in her sandy face photo
Cocoa in her muddy-face photo
Cocoa minus the mud
Clean Cocoa

The person who commissioned the painting as a gift for Cocoa’s owner said the painting looks just like Cocoa and she was sure her owner would love the painting. (I hope so!)

Cocoa Preliminary Sketch 2
Cocoa Preliminary Sketch 2
Cocoa Preliminary Sketch 1
Cocoa Preliminary Sketch 1

Above are the preliminary sketches I did loosely, just playing around, trying to get to know Cocoa. I love dogs and I love painting dogs!

Animals Art business Drawing Oil Painting Painting Portrait Sketchbook Pages

Puck: A Dog Portrait in Oils (delivered with tears and hugs)

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!