14" x 10" oil on linen canvas - Golden Retriever Elliot
Once again I must apologise for the dearth of blog posts - I can only say that I am simply so busy painting that everything else has been taking a back seat. I can can tell you though that things are planned to be somewhat more organised in the New Year and I am thinking of publishing a newsletter - perhaps bi-monthly.
However, for now here is a recent commission of a gorgeous golden retriever which I hope you enjoy.
Don't forget I am only an email address away if you want to ask me anything or chat - although expect fairly brief responses pre-Christmas!!
PS I am fully booked for this Christmas - sorry to those who've been disappointed
Here is my most recent commission - not a particularly easy one as the photographic reference wasn't very good as the main photo of his head was very small indeed. In fact this painting is made up of two photographs as the owner particularly wanted this expression - being typical of him - but the photo only went half way down his chest. Fortunately she had another photo of him in almost the same pose - with his head in a different position - so it wasn't too difficult although the way the spots change shape according to slight changes of position in the dog have to be seen to be believed!
This was also a very difficult painting to photograph accurately and I'm going to have to check it today for accuracy. Then rush, rush, rush, carry on with the next commission!
Rhodesian Ridgeback - Jackson. 16" x 20" oil on canvas
Another recent commission which I can now share as it was commissioned as a birthday present and given today. I've been informed that everyone was crying when the parcel was opened which I must admit made me feel quite emotional too!
If you would like to commission a painting or have a question please email me at email@example.com
Tonight I'm sharing one of my recent(ish) commissions. As it says, it's a watercolour, 16" x 20", on my favourite paper Saunders Waterford NOT. For those of you who don't know, NOT stands for not hot pressed which means that the surface has a small amount of texture rather than the completely smooth surface of hot pressed.
If you have any comments/questions, please feel free to either leave a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I must apologise for my absence. I have been extremely busy with commissions and I'm going to blame my tardiness on that - whether or not it is a good excuse, I'm using it!
If you would like something in particular to appear in this blog, please let me know. I presume you know my email address by now, but if not it's email@example.com and it would be interesting to see your suggestions.
If I hear nothing, then it will be back to my paintings! First one to appear here, all things being equal, tomorrow.
I've been trying to link this blog to my Facebook page - www.facebook.com/AnneZoutsosArtist but when I did through Twitter, a thumbnail of another artist's not very good painting was included in the post. I didn't want anyone to think it was my painting, so I deleted it entirely as it wouldn't allow me to delete the thumbnail alone. I have now removed the link between Twitter and Facebook and instead hopefully set up a link between Feedblitz and Facebook and this is a test posting. While talking about Feedblitz I'd also like to let you know that when my subscribers receive an email of my posts, the adverts included are nothing to do with me but automatically added by Feedblitz.
If you've any comments or tales about social networking, I'd be interested to hear them!
I'm often asked which colours I use in my paintings. Actually I don't use very many and they tend to be very similar in watercolours and oils - tonight here are the watercolour colours:
Cerulean Blue Hue
An unknown green - maybe viridian!
I think it's just as well to have a reasonably limited palette and I find all my needs are met from this choice of colours.
Be careful when mixing colours - it is very easy to make mud. You want to keep your colours clear and vibrant. You will find, as you use them, that some are easy to scrub out almost completely whereas others have a very strong stain. Greens seem to stain the paper very quickly which I think increases my antipathy towards them; I hardly ever use green. When I need a green I usually use lemon yellow and lamp black with the tiniest smidgen of green which may or may not be viridian!
So today is the first of my watercolour discussions. I would say straight away that I always use artist quality products - I know some other artists use cheaper materials successfully but I have tried them and couldn't get on with them at all. I use Winsor & Newton watercolour paints although I would not suggest that these are superior to other makes, but they are what I started with, liked them and have stuck with them.
As for brushes - well I must have tried hundreds! Other than my large wash brush and my faithful old 'scrubber' all my paint brushes are sable. Well I say all, that's not entirely true - amongst them are a few brushes manufactured with various mixtures of man-made and sable hair which I have bought in optimism that maybe a new brush had been discovered which would be my perfect brush, but these have always to date, been relegated after first use to mixing paint colours or cleaning my palette. I can only paint with sable and I use a round brush. Most of my work is done with a no 3 sable as I've found with trial and error that with this size I can get a nice point or a nice splay, depending on what I'm painting, together with a reasonable amount of paint holding. Sadly brushes do lose their 'sharpness' quite rapidly and I have to supplement my brush collection frequently. I am still on the look out for the perfect brush which I doubt exists!
Now I mentioned palettes. It will probably surprise you that I still use the travelling box of paints, with the palette an integral part of the box, which I first started with so many years ago! It really is a nuisance as it's difficult to make a large amount of wash without it slopping into it's neighbour's well, but I've never even considered using another palette. In fact I do have two plastic palettes bought for me, but I have only used them for acrylic paint!
I think paper is a very personal choice. I would suggest you visit your local art shop and buy a sheet of several different makes. You will also need to find out whether you prefer a rough, hot pressed or NOT, also called cold pressed, surface. I like NOT which is a medium surface - between rough and the smooth hot pressed. I like the Saunders Waterford brand which is 100% cotton rag and which is strong enough to take a reasonable amount of scrubbing. I always soak my paper in a bath of cold water for at least 10 minutes before stretching it. It really is important for you to try different makes as they differ enormously in the way the paint sits on them and is absorbed.
I will talk about which colours make up my palette in my next post but meanwhile, do let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.
I quite often receive messages from other artists asking if I could share my 'secrets' and also which working materials I use. In the past I've replied to each separately but thought it would be a good idea - and save time! - if I wrote about any hints and tips I can give on my blog. So - if you want to know, just ask in the comments.
To start the ball rolling I will discuss my watercolour materials, colours and brushes so if you have any questions before I begin, please let me have them now. Otherwise, I shall start discussing my working methods in the next few days.
I know that thinking about Christmas at the end of May just seems wrong but that's what I'm asking you to do! Every year people end up being disappointed because I'm fully booked and unable to take their commissions for Christmas presents which they'd been planning. So, please, to make sure you have your painting ready for Christmas, consider ordering it now.
Border Collie - watercolour on Saunders Waterford NOT paper
I think a lot of my readers will have a similar problem to mine - not enough hours in the day! Some things are left or not given enough attention and I have been concerned about my blog. I would love to hear from you to know what sort of contet matter you'd like to see - bearing in mind of course that it will be art related! Do please be in touch to see if I can make my posts more relevant or interesting to you.
Golden Retriever in Chair - 16" x 12" oil on canvas
This painting took a long time to paint and I have to thank this lovely dog's owner for being so extraordinarily patient! I'm very pleased with the result though (even if it has added a few grey hairs in the process!) and am happy to report his owner is delighted with the painting.
Champion Affenpinscher - watercolour on Saunders Waterford NOT
I thought it might be nice to show some of my previous paintings - and some them rather unusual breeds. The painting above is of a champion affenpinscher - I wonder how many of my readers have heard of this breed before? Do you agree with the fact that they are often described as 'monkey-faced'? The word affe in German means monkey - hence their name!
Yes, you have seen this painting before! I actually finished the painting and posted it on facebook and then decided there were a few things I would like to change. The photo below was the photo I originally posted.
Can you see any difference to the final painting above? If you want to try and work it out, don't scroll down as I am going to show there where the alterations were made.
Spoiler alert as they say!
So the alterations were as follows:
No 1 is the outer area lightened, no 2 area also lightened, no 3 shape of eye changed and area above lightened, no 4 highlights altered, no 5 lightened to show modelling, no 6 lightened, both eyes had more cerulean blue added.
I hope you've enjoyed this little exercise! This painting is available - details in the blog post below.
A Loyal Friend Is Everything - 10" x 12" oil on canvas
The above painting of a yellow labrador retriever was one of my Christmas commissions which of course I couldn't share before the day as it was a surprise gift. The dog in the painting is called Alfie and his owner wrote and said that they had decided to call the potrait A Loyal Friend Is Everything, which I thought both lovely and clever!
One of the many pleasures of being an artist is the lovely emails we receive from purchasers of our paintings and I'm delighted to say that the owners of this painting are very happy indeed with it!
I'm sorry it's been so long since I have posted on my blog. Shortly after my last entry promising to post much more regularly I went down with a very nasty bout of 'flu and I am only now starting to feel nearly normal!