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Meet: Jessy and Dusty
Commission: Oil on canvas 60x80 cm, dutch landscape on the background, and their favorite toy.
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Phase 1:
First, I draw the composition of the dogs on canvas in charcoal. The horizon and their position. To descide what comes where. The drawing will be fixated to prevent the paint becoming dirty. After that I paint a thin layer of burned sienna to give the portrait a solid warm underpainting. That will shine through the finished portrait, giving the end result a warm glow. When the underpainting is dry, I start putting in the shapes of the dogs with thick brush strokes. Thinking in grey tones: where are the darkest, middle and lightest parts?  

Never finish the portaits/subjects before adding the background. Yet again, with thick brush strokes I paint the background. In this image you see clearly how important that is: in phase one the dogs seem way more detailed than in phase two. The dogs seem to be 'pulled backward' into the painting. This is the reason to add backgrounds as soon as possible. Otherwhise you end up repainting the subjects all over again, adding new greyscales and details.
Working on the contrasts. The dogs get a new layer of deep blacks and highlights. In between layers I let the painting dry for a couple of days. 

Phase 4:

Final details. Now the little brushes come in! Painting the fine hairs around the nose and strenghtening the facial features. The background get the final layer by adding in some highlights. I always prevent working in details on the portrait for too long, since too much detail can make it look boring and dull. Focussing on the most important areas (the eyes and faces) leaving the rest of the painting less detailed. Adding the shadows make the dogs laying down more 'solid' in the grass. Adding some fine blades of grass to make it more realistic.

The colors on the pictures above are slightly different from the original, due to the lights in my studio. 

Finished portrait:


Copyright © Marjolein Kruijt