As I write, my website is down. I do apologise and suspect it may be due to a large number of hits today. I am no expert though so this may not be the case at all. I will get it back up and running as soon as I can.
I had meant to publish this photo directly after the post of the video showing a painting being opened as this was what was being unwrapped. Oh well, to quote Robert Burns - "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley"!
As I explained on my Facebook page (Anne Zoutsos Artist), I'm still trying to catch up with posting my paintings. The one featured today was a pre-Christmas commission so at this rate I'll still be posting last year's Christmas portraits just before this Christmas! Oh well, painting's more important than posting - or it is to me although I suppose it's not the way to be when social networking is so important these days. Whoops!
Please click the bottom right-hand corner to enlarge
The painting here was commissioned as a surprise gift for the lady shown, by a kind friend of hers, in celebration of the life of her beloved Dalmatian who had died 3 weeks previously. Those of us who truly love our four-legged family members, know the depth of grief felt when they leave us. The video was taken by another friend (owner of the two Dalmatians shown) to whom the painting had been sent so that she would be able to record the unwrapping.
I often get messages from people telling me how they cried on opening their painting but I don't usually get the opportunity of seeing it for myself and yes, the person making the recording is also crying. I think you can imagine just how touching I find this and guess my own response on seeing this...
Watercolour portrait of Standard Longhaired Dachshund
Ch & Aust Ch Tekalhaus Masterpiece
In this brief tutorial I will aim to show you my watercolour painting process resulting in a portrait such as the one above.
I'm afraid that I don't have any WIP photos of the head being painted, but as the procedure is the same as the body I don't think this is a problem. You can see here that the basic colours and tones are being laid in and no paint is applied where the highlights will be eventually. I put the blue background in before I start painting the dog and don't worry unduly if it overlaps the outline of the dog a little. Blue - it's French Ultramarine - is reasonably easy to scrub out - not completely of course, but sufficient for my needs. If it were green that would be another matter! The paint at this stage is of a watery consistency.
In the painting above, you can see I have started to add the fine detail of the hair. If you look, you will also see where I have added more colour to the side near the front of the dog and also scrubbed out some colour. I have an old brush which I keep purely for scrubbing out - a horrible looking old thing but which does the job just right. I tend to keep it in water for days on end - poor old brush! When I paint the hairs, I splay out a round sable and use the paint reasonably dry but not too dry which would cause drag marks. I don't paint individual hairs as I prefer the more natural look obtained when several hairs are painted at the same time.
In this painting, the final outcome is becoming very clear. You will see that not only do I reserve white or pale paper for the highlights but I also use white watercolour. Now many of you will know that using white or black paint in watercolour is very frowned upon and for many years I used neither. I don't know exactly why but one day I became irritated at following 'the rules' and decided to go my own way. Now I use both white and black watercolours. However, I use them very, very carefully. If you want to deaden a painting there is hardly a quicker way than using white and black indiscriminately. I never mix white with any other colour as I loathe the chalky, lifeless quality it gives. As you can see above, I have used white on the hightlights of the dog - however, as the paper was already much lighter in these areas, only a small amount was needed and laid in very lightly. I will sometimes use a colour over white paint but very, very carefully so as to not disturb the white underneath as I don't want it to mix with the colour above. If it does, then I remove the lot with my faithful scrubbing brush. When I use black I sometimes use it neat but often mix a little blue or brown into it. Perhaps I should also mention the grass. This is painted starting with the lightest colours gradually working in the darks with very little scrubbing out as greens don't like it!
I always paint on Saunders Waterford NOT as I like the level of absorbency this paper has. It is also good natured and will allow judicious scrubbing out although all watercolour paper needs respectful handling. I only use sable round brushes except for the sky where I use a 1" flat which is a mixture of sable and man-made. My faithful scrubbing brush is also a mixture of sable and man-made.
The colours used in this painting were: French Ultramarine, Lamp Black, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre (very little as it tends to be chalky-looking), Lemon Yellow (this together with Lamp Black give a rather nice olive green), Sap Green. To the best of my recollection these were the only colours with possibly the addition of a green which I've had in my box for so many years, I don't know what colour it is - I only use a tiny bit.
I do hope this little 'tuition' has been helpful to any aspiring artists out there.
Rhodesian Ridgeback - Simba. 20" x 16" watercolour on Saunders Waterford NOT
Another recent commission - this time a watercolour. A much loved and very sadly missed beautiful boy. As far as I can see there is really only one thing wrong with dogs, and that is that however long they live, it's not nearly long enough...
My next blog entry will be a mini watercolour tutorial - can I hear "at last"? Apologies that it's taken so long to post!
This evening's posting is of a recently painted portrait - I still have some pre-Christmas paintings to post and am endeavouring to get myself organised sufficiently to be able to put them here on my blog. Never give up!
At this time of year there never seem enough hours in the day. There are always dogs to be walked but now the garden is crying out to be attended to with so much to do and of course paintings to work on. I had planned some spring cleaning but that has had to be put on hold - not something I am sorry about!
This painting was finished shortly after Christmas. The person commissioning the portrait had hoped to have it in time for a Christmas gift but I explained that this wouldn't be possible and so they decided that they would go ahead anyway.
It is always unpleasant having to disappoint people but this happens every year as, I suppose understandably, the general public don't fully realise the time it takes to paint portraits and many leave it too late.
The moral of the story - get your Christmas portraits booked in plenty of time!
There never seem to be enough hours in the day to paint, walk the dogs, cuddle the dogs and cope with all the normal hundred and one (or in my case one hundred and one!) things of normal day to day living. Some items get left and in my case, keeping my blog up to date has been suffering.
Today's painting is a recently completed oil of a lovely sweet rottweiler who I have had the honour of bringing back for his owners.
If you would like to commission a painting please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please bear in mind that there is a waiting list but if you have a specific date you require the painting for or there is some other urgency about its completion, do ask as I can often move things around to accommodate such requests.
Today has been a special day for us as it is Hazel's 15th birthday. She has received presents and cards and enjoyed them all! After a nice walk in glorious sunshine and a specially cooked dinner she is now fast asleep on the sofa. Happy girl and happy us!
So here is the painting now finished. I've also featured the head of this girl to show it in detail. Since the last blog post, all the spots have been completed and more work has been done on the shading of the body. This is the stage when small areas of detail are added - such as the toe nails. In this painting, the paint has been thinned on two occasions only- firstly for the underpainting sketch and then for the whiskers. Finally the background has been painted, my signature added and that's it!
I hope you've enjoyed the little journey through the development of one of my paintings.
As can be seen, things have moved on quite a lot since I last showed you the progress of this painting. The head and ears have almost been completed although there will be some more detail added. The entire body has been worked on with the shading being refined and all the spots have had thick paint applied but only fairly roughly. The spots above the collar and a few below have had detail added so the next stage of the painting will be to add detail to all of the spots on the body and legs. It will then be back to her head and together with the detail mentioned above, whiskers will also be painted in. Once all of this has been done, I will paint the background and then sign it. It will then be ready for her owner to check that she is happy with the painting.
A considerable amount of work has been done since the last stage of this painting. All of the shading has been roughed in together with the spots on the head and ears and more work has been done on the eyes. Please note though that not one area of the dog is finished yet. I should also admit that I don't always paint in an ordered and sensible fashion and quite often get attracted by a particular area of the painting or take a rest from a difficult part! I am sure this is not the accepted way to paint, but since I am self-taught, I can please myself!
I think the photo of this stage of the painting is fairly self-explanatory. As can be seen, once again I have painted the eyes first so that I can develop a relationship with the dog. After that I have blocked in shaded areas and the spots with thin paint. In this painting I have also added a foot which was not visible in the reference photo but without which I felt the painting looked wrong.
At this point, I like to step away from the painting and look at it to make sure that it is developing along the right lines. Even when only in the beginning stages I aim to make the paintings visually interesting.
So, here is the final painting. I hope it's going to be clear enough to see easily as I've found it incredibly hard to get a reasonable photo of it.
I think a lot of this lesson really isself-explanatory. As can be seen, the black background has been painted in and the black edges of the ears have been slightly lightened so that they can be seen against the background - albeit not very well in this photo! Sometimes it can be very effective to paint 'lost and found' edges where parts of a painting are indistinguishable against the background but I didn't feel this would be right with this painting. More detail was added to the muzzle area and whiskers were painted in. The bed was painted but less than in the actual photo and toes were added which weren't in the photo! The final part of all was the blending in of the reflection with brush strokes both horizontal and vertical. Although the reflection is an important part of the painting it must not take centre stage - this position must be left to the VIP of the painting.
Good girl Macy!
I hope you've enjoyed this journey into painting - another one to follow very shortly.
At this stage the painting of the Dalmatian itself is almost finished. More detail has been added to the spots and the shading. The reflection has been added although this will need blurring into the background when that has been completed.
It's always a good idea to look at your painting from slightly different angles and stand back to see it from a little further away. It's so easy when you're concentrating hard on the details of a painting to lose sight of the whole picture and for exaggerations to creep in. When you look at your painting, do you feel you could stroke the dog, feel its body under your hands? If you do, then you know you're getting it right.
As can be seen, the painting has developed considerably since the last lesson. The spots have all had oil paint applied without the addition of any thinner or medium. At the moment the edges are only roughly painted although the shapes are more or less accurate. The areas in shadow have had considerably more paint applied and again, like the spots, the paint has had nothing mixed with it. A large amount of detail has been added creating much more form. I've also added much more detail to the eye rims but haven't touched the eyes themselves as I got the expression I wanted when I first painted them and don't want this changed until I'm ready to work in the final detail - quite a time consuming part as getting the eye detail right is crucial.
When you get to this stage, take time to look at the painting to make sure that your image is really starting to gain shape so that you feel you can reach out and touch the dog. If you don't feel that yourself, you'll be lucky if anybody else does! If you're not sure, try looking at it through a mirror as when you're not used to painting, it can be useful to have a different perspective. For now, I feel very fond of this little girl and look forward to the next stage of work.
Again, if anyone has any questions, please email me at email@example.com or leave a comment here.