Peaceful Slumber

Just a page from my sketchbook:

Peaceful Slumber baby portrait sketch

Sketched from snapshot of a friend’s new baby. She is precious! I have started to add an angel to the right and have the feeling more will show up. If they do, I’ll repost with angels (and scan it properly, too!)

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Gunner and Russ (child/dog portrait)

Just finished this child/pet double portrait commissioned by a lovely lady in Marquette MI. The little boy, Gunner, is her first grandchild, who loves the family dog, Russ, very much. (And the feeling is obviously mutual!)

But what I loved was Gunner’s grandmother’s comment when I first emailed her the finished painting: “Oh my, the portrait of those two is just how we should spend our days…  ”

Gunner & Russ child/dog portrait(“Have you hugged your child/dog/lover/friend today?” may sound like a trite bumper sticker saying. But I’m going to ask it of you anyway. If you haven’t, here’s your homework for the day: go give someone a hug!)

I actually had the presence of mind to shoot in-progress photos of this one.

Here is the underdrawing, based on a sketch made from the reference photo. In the original photo Russ (the dog) was chewing a bone, and it didn’t look very good. At first I thought I’d take a separate picture of him and merge the two reference photos into one drawing, but he just didn’t get how to pose for the camera. So I ended up moving Russ’s head and front leg a bit from the original photo. Luckily, it worked out.

I started with a very light wash of golden yellow. It’s not noticeable in the final painting (you can’t see it very well in the photo, either), but gives the piece a bit of warm glow.

under drawing Gunner & Russ portrait
Gunner & Russ underdrawing

Next, I went in and established the first layer of color in the figures. Most watercolorists work from light to dark, but I like to establish a value range right away, so I tend to go in and put in at least some of my darkest darks right at the beginning.  Here, it’s the back leg of the pants and the pupils of the eyes.

Gunner & Russ 1st layer
Gunner & Russ – first layer

For the next pass, I layed in the shadows on Gunner’s face and bare foot, and on Russ.

Gunner & Russ Layer 2
Gunner & Russ, Layer 2

Layer 3: From here it was simply a matter of deepening the shadows and adding details. (I love shadows because they often are full of color!)

Gunner & Russ layer 3
Gunner & Russ, Layer 3

I went in a few more times between layer 3 and the final layer but didn’t remember to take photos. Oh, well. But here is the final piece one more time (just to keep the sequence in order):

Gunner & Russ child/dog portrait

Now, take a good look at the pure joy on little Gunner’s face, and go give someone a hug!

(And don’t forget to give yourself one, too!) 🙂

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Happy Birthday

Just realized I have two friends with birthdays today and tomorrow. So I hopped on Photoshop and made this card. (It’ll be personalized with their names when I send it.)

Happy Birthday card with beach scene

 

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Red Pepper

Gotta do a still life once in a while…Red Pepper watercolor painting

This is a little 4″x4″ mini painting done on a watercolor board. I have a whole bunch of blank ones in a box somewhere. It’s time to go to the grocery store, I think. Perhaps a pear next, or a pomegranate, perchance?

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Second Chances (Dancing Horses)

Dug this out of the attic the other day. It wasn’t finished. I’d shoved it into a portfolio one day several years back after filling in just the background, the horses’ eyes and nostrils, and the mane and tail on one of the animals (can you guess which?)

Three or four moves later, there it was in my hand again. Blank white horses, flat as paper. Waiting patiently for brush and pigment to quicken them to life…

3 White Horses watercolor painting

It wasn’t until a day or so after finally completing the piece that I realized how significant it was that I’d picked this piece, out of the couple dozen unfinished paintings I’d started and abandoned over the past fifteen years,  to finish first.

Fifteen years of unsettled living, punctuated with excruciating creative blocks. Stressful times, and fearful times. Fear of not stacking up. Fear of losing control if I let myself follow my dreams.

Is this time different? Am I deluding myself to think that now, after starting up and drying up countless many times, I’m finally ready to let that creative river that’s been dammed up inside me for so long run free?

I’m not going to think about that. Instead, I’m posting this painting.

Orange. The color of the sacral chakra. The creative center of body and mind.

Violet, for the crown chakra: spirit and soul.

Horses. My personal totem animal. Horses to carry me over obstacles. Wild horses, running free.

Here is the message I hope this painting brings to the world:

It’s not too late. Dig out your buried dreams. Dust them off, and mount them again. Don’t think about where they’re taking you. Just enjoy the ride. So what if you fall? You will have tasted the wind.  

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