How did I get started?
I always start with photos to ensure I have a clear picture to work from as a reference to what I want to paint. It is important that form is captured accurately and any distinguishing marks are picked up. Facial features, such as eyes and nose and colouring are also important. I began with a sketch of the dog shape first onto mountboard. Mount board is smooth to paint on but more substantial than media paper. I offer A4 or A3 sizes as frames are easier to purchase and cheaper too! This painting is an A3 size and I was commissioned to paint him.
I used the reference as a guide (see image 4) for the colour of the background, but wanted to achieve a more abstract look and harmonise with the blue tag as shown on image 6, so used white and cobalt blue acrylic and a sponge around the dog shape, to represent the sky. I then painted a wash of yellow ochre to the body and added some raw umber to the dark tones. It can be useful to give an initial coat of clear acrylic medium to ensure the board is primed before adding any paint. It also stops paint from soaking in too quickly.
I started painting the eye and worked from there adding a mix of burnt and raw umber for the mid tones and burnt sienna and raw sienna for the lighter tones. I try to blend colour to match the reference as near as possible (see image 4). Some photos had been taken outside and others inside, so not having seen the dog before, I had to make a judgement as to the real colour, more from the outside pictures.
As can be seen from the photo reference I was using on my ipad, I added layers of paint numerous times to form the structure and blends of colour. As the dog has a very short coat, it was necessary to try and achieve the same effect with comb brushes that would be painted in the way the coat will lie and then add the top hairs with a fine brush.
To make the green, I used yellow ochre and some cerulean blue and dabbed the areas with a sponge starting at the bottom to represent grass. I also added some red and white to the blue to create a purple and then used a fine brush to add some grass detail initially. I continued referring to the reference picture to add the detail to the body of the dog.
I completed the painting by adding tiny strokes of hairs that could be seen and ensuring the highlights in his coat looked as though they shined. Detail to the collar was also important using white and black to show the metal ring and stitching with his name clearly situated. It is important to capture any distinguishing marks, such as the small white patch between his legs as that sets him aside other Vizsla dogs. I finished the painting by adding the whiskers and additional high and low lights and completed the background with touches of yellow ochre and white to represent flowers in the grass.