Friday, January 16, 2015

Another New Year Begun!

Puppy Love
5x7" Watercolor on series 400 Strathmore Watercolor Paper
©BEDeuel Bronson Hill Arts 2015

I can't believe that it's been 5 weeks since my last post. I dislike letting the blog go unattended that long. It's a great to make contact with others & exercise the writing "muscle". It's also a fun way to not only debut new works but to share failures, solutions and successes.

Which is why I want to share my last commission of 2014. That was finished in 2015. Halfway through January, 2015. 

Yep. A harried end, and a slow start. But, it was a good start!

The customer requesting the pet portrait was preparing to give it as a gift for one of her customers. The original photograph that she gave me to use was a posed portrait. I started to work with it, but, was unsure as to why we would want a painted portrait of a photographic portrait. 
Formal Pose Attempt  #1

The colors and textures were stronger in the photo portrait but she had also texted a really sweet picture of the dogs that was truly perfect for a painting. 

So, the sketch was redone. We liked the more casual pose. 

Casual Pose Attempt #2

From there, my usual process went forward: sketch, scan, print on watercolor paper, paint. Photograph the process along the way to get a truer perspective of the image. And, that was crucial in this case.

Stepping back a moment to the printing on watercolor paper:  I'd been using a more basic watercolor paper for images that were really designed just for note cards. But, I had to be very careful to not overwork the paper, or it pilled too easily. This time I wanted to try to see if a better grade of paper would work to prevent that, especially since the final product was the painting, not a print. Sometimes the marketing is just that: marketing. But it did. I used a 400 series Strathmore watercolor paper vs. a basic Canson paper for watercolor. 

The first few steps went along fairly smoothly. Laid the darker color down, some highlights, and shading. From there, it was time to add the lighter colors and texture.

Dark Underlayment


And, that's when I created ghost dogs. Yikes... This is, also, why I was very happy that I'd used a better paper! I did not want to start over again, since I was satisfied with everything else to that point. Plus, to compound the goof, for some reason, the images became flat.

Ghost Dogs

The camera showed all of that. It helped me to step back and "see" the problems more thoroughly, which in turn made the solutions easier to find.

It really was  simple: mix a light yellow/red brown, lay it down and go back with a more diluted white. The water  that diluted the white paint picked up enough of the brown to eliminate the ghost faces. I also purchased some fine line brushes which made it easier to create the texture around the mouth. My love of chiseled brushes had to be set aside. Then a straightforward "outline" solved the dimension problem. You can see it in the final image at the top & the bottom.

Flat Non-Ghost Dogs

Today, I hope to hear how the recipient likes the final painting. And, I hope she likes it as much as I liked making it. 

P.S.:  Thank you to my customer for her incredible patience! Next week, I'll touch on some of the changes in our systems that had to occur in order to not run into that severe a time-crunch again.

Final Product!


  1. Lovely portrait. Well done on sticking to it, and getting such a good result. Valerie

  2. How beautiful! They looks so relaxed in the casual shot and so sweet too!

  3. Beautiful painting. I love the eyes and that they're both looking at us as opposed to the other picture she had originally given you. Beautiful fur texture--that's something I struggle with.

  4. I can't even tell you how wonderful it was to click onto this wonderful piece of art!! Love these puppies and how you creatively captured their little personalities!! Excellent job I'm sure they'll be loved for years to come!! Thanks for sharing your process!! Excellent job!

    Oh and I agree about painting the posed photo!!

    Hugs Giggles

  5. I'm so glad that you've all stopped and visited! It had been so long since my last post.

    Your complements and support are always wonderful and deeply appreciated!

    XO to all of you!



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