Custom Dog Portrait

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English Staffy

Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 14” x 18” (35.5cm x 45.72cm)

Private memorial portrait

Bellingen, NSW

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Frank had a great life and a loved life. His mission in life was to created mayhem and madness- even so, he is a very dearly missed member of his family. His memorial portrait was commissioned as a loving tribute to a dog who lives on in the hearts of those who loved him.

The process

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The Digital Mock-up

Admittedly my photoshop app on the iPad is pretty dodgy with cutting around edges (could be the operator!) but it does give me the capacity to play around with colours and compositions so that I can work with my client to plan a painting before I start. This gives them the opportunity to make decisions about their portrait and have an idea of how the painting will look.

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Under painting

I like to use the “grisaille” (pronounced like Versailles) under painting technique at the beginning of my portraits. This method was made popular in the Renaissance and is very useful in creating a monochrome tonal rendering of a work before applying the full range of colours. It allows me to focus entirely on the tonal relationships of the composition, without having to worry about colour. I see it like adding a bit of tonal substance on top of the “structural” drawing.

I always check in with my client at this stage, as it lets them see their pet on canvas and be assured that their portrait is underway.

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First colour pass

By using the tonal under painting as my guide, I gently start adding the colour. I’m always mindful of the three-dimensional solidity of the animal I’m painting, so it’s important to paint in the direction of the skeletal form and muscles that are underneath the skin and fur. This helps to give the flat two-dimensional surface of paint on canvas a three- dimensional, realistic look.

I like to call this stage of my portraits the Ugly Duckling stage because you can see what they can grow into, but they always look a bit like a messy cake mix.

I used artelier interactive acrylics for the under painting on Frank’s portrait

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Finished portrait

And here is the lovely Frank’s portrait.

Final layer painted in water soluble oils (Windsor and Newton artisan)