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Dreaming in Color III: Impressions
oil on Gessobord, 2013
NOTE: At the bottom of this post is a video showing the step by step transition from initial sketch to final painting.
Our Ray was an expert napper. I have dozens of photos in the archives in which he demonstrates his napping skills in a wide variety of locations and positions. Looking back, I think I would have to say that his favorite sleeping places contained books. Sometimes a single volume, sometimes a stack. Read more to see my step-by-step painting photos and commentary:
This is one of those rare instances when I didn’t feel the need to change anything about the composition; it was just right for painting as it was:
First, I did my pencil sketch on paper and decided on cropping, then traced it onto my Gessobord with graphite transfer paper and brushed lightly over the main lines with black acrylic. I then added a loosely brushed acrylic glaze of yellow ochre. For these initial glazes I use paint mixed with acrylic medium in a matte finish. Use more medium and less paint for a more transparent color, and vice versa
Next, a glaze of quinacridone magenta.
Now, a very loosely brushed glaze of phthalo blue acrylic. Before adding a new layer of glaze I let the previous layer dry for about 10 minutes or so. You can speed things up by using a blow dryer on a low heat setting to help each layer dry.
After letting the underpainting dry for a good 30 minutes or so, I start with my oils.
I begin by blocking in the gray areas of Ray’s coat, mixing black with white. For the parts of his fur which are warmed by the sunlight coming in the window, I mixed in just a breath of cad yellow light to warm up the gray toward the greenish.
Next, I started adding the brightest whites and a few medium tones, applying just one or two brush strokes each time before wiping and reloading my brush. My favorite touch right here is the little green highlight on top of his head.
Keeping things very quick and loose, I paint in the sunlit window and the white pitcher. Notice the “lost edge“ on the top of Ray’s body and back leg where his white fur blends in with the sunlight outside the window. I love the way lost and found edges add visual interest.
Next, the book stack! I really had to concentrate on keeping my strokes nice and loose here, and not get too caught up in the tiny details. When painting in an impressionist style, don’t underestimate the ability of the viewer’s brain to fill in missing visual information!
Here you can see that I added just a little more definition (but not too much!) to the flowers outside the window. Painted the book which is serving as Ray’s headrest, and painted the table top just peeking out from under our subject. My favorite parts when painting this section were the little highlights along the edge of the book and right on the corner of the table.
Added my signature, et voilà! The painting is finished!
(Actually, if I had this one to do again, I would etch my signature into the paint with a stylus so that it wouldn’t be so distracting. But anyway.)
Christ follower, artist, writer. Living in a woodsy rural area of north central Louisiana. I love to paint, read, write, and walk in the woods with my dogs. The cats usually stay home and hold down the fort (or maybe have wild parties) while we're out on these adventures.