Painting Perry

I love dogs.

I have cared for dogs, drawn dogs, painted my own dogs and painted other people’s beloved dogs, alive and dead.

At this point in my life I am without a dog companion, so it was with extra joy that I accepted a commission to paint Perry’s portrait.

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Perry

I like having loads of photos to work from when I do a portrait, so I spent some snowy afternoon time with Perry, trying to get shots of her shape and markings, but she was often squinting against the glare, so her dad also supplied this soulful shot of her open eyes.

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To keep the focus on Perry I minimized the background to the snowy field and treeline.

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I like to paint in the background 1st. For this snowy scene I used resist to preserve whites in the hedgerow, then added very loose greens and dark blues in diluted gouache over that.

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In the foreground shadows, which were very crisp and blue, I tossed on some salt to create the texture of snow.

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Then I painted Perry in on top. She is 13, but her face has such a joyful, open expression. She spent a lot of her time that afternoon with her snout buried in the snow, sniffing heavens knows what.

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Painting Fergie’s Portrait


Fergie is a Goldendoodle.

If there is a cuter new “doodle” breed, I can’t imagine it.

She is the fortunate 1st ‘child’ of my beloved cousin, who dotes on her every wiggle and bark.

Now that she has come of age,  I was commissioned to paint her official portrait.

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Fergie and her family visited while the leaves were still falling in October.

After exploring the woods thoroughly, she chose this scene for her backdrop.

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And I caught her sitting still, however briefly, in the driveway.

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To begin this portrait I painted the background landscape before adding the main figure. I am working in gouache and trying to stay loose. A lot gets covered up by the figure, but it still seems to make the whole more cohesive.

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To add the figure of Fergie I did a careful pencil drawing and used simple graphite transfer to position her in the scene.

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Once Fergie was in place I added lots of shadowing to push the landscape behind her and leaves in the foreground to anchor her on the ground.

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I paid the most attention to her face, trying to capture the sweetness and life-not to mention her glorious curls!

 

 

Beech Face

Leaf Portraiture

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Beech Face/ Maria

In my first Vermont winter in 34 years, I am re-discovering the fashions of autumn. So many leaves!

I cannot get my hands on my usual Beach Face elements, so I’m deploying leaves instead. Inspired by another look at Lois Ehlert’s superbly clever Leaf Man, I have been using leaves in various ways to create portraiture.

The rhubarb plant can supply an entire wardrobe!

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Sabin in the autumn

And sometimes only one is needed.

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With the leftover riches, I made arrangements and left them in the woods

Composing a Beach Portrait

My dog ran right past this half buried shell, but I saw an eye staring back at me.

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It is rather large, so the head will have to be in a comparable scale.

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A  20′ piece of stranded kelp, complete with some “hair” and even a goatee, becomes the head and chest.

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Despite the confusing goatee, this is a female figure.  She gets some extra hair in a kelp strand bonnet and kelp pod breasts belong in this expansive chest.

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Now I begin to add some facial features and ear ornaments.

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Remember the 1st shell? It looked a little dead so I’m adding this stranded jelly.

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It fits perfectly.

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The future’s so bright she has to wear shades!

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Her nose and mouth needed attention. A gleaming mussel shell became an important nose, and a delicate crab’s claw, tiny shell and folded seaweed pinked up her mouth.

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Normally I incorporate a lot of beach trash in my portraits, and cart it away when I’m done, but this beach was squeaky clean. I found just two tiny shards of plastic to create the bridge and top bar of her sunglasses.

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I searched the beach for a few more embellishments to add.

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I add a single feather to her hairdo and I think she is now complete.

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Next time you find yourself on a beach, try one!

If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar.