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!) 🙂

Did you enjoy this post? Christie

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Author: Christie

If you did, you will enjoy my newsletter, too. I share positive affirmations, uplifting artwork, and spiritual insights for awakening souls. You will also get a free guided meditation to help you meet your Spirit Animal! Just go to the "Cool Stuff" tab in the menu up top and click on "Newsletter" to subscribe.

5 thoughts on “Gunner and Russ (child/dog portrait)”

  1. Brilliant! So fresh and clean. I love all the shapes and how they interconnect. Yes. I’ve hugged my dog today and everyday, an animal lover to my core and another reason I like your painting, Anne.

    1. Thank you, Larry! Shadows can be purple, or nearly any color. It’s fun to observe them closely and figure out what colors you’re really seeing. Can lead to surprises! 🙂

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