Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to Take a Great Photograph of Your Pet for a Portrait

How to Take a Great Photograph of Your Pet for a Portrait
If you'll look at the photos below, it's rather obvious which one is better, or is it? In the first shot, Victor is looking straight at the camera, which puts his face into a shadow. This type of photograph can be a good one to paint, but when compared with the second picture, there are so significant differences. See below.

When Victor's head is turned to the left, this allows for light to shine through his eye lens, creating a more glowing/reflective brilliance. The photo above, even if it were lightened professionally, still leaves a rather flat shape to the face and eyes. Yes, the fang could be fixed, but with the photo below, our needs are met.

This photo of Victor allows the fang protrusion to give the illusion of a soft mouth, slightly opened. Yay, fates! (Will discuss that next week.) The three-quarter position of the head shows multiple planes of his three dimensional head, as opposed to the top pic, which has little planar differientation because of the straight on shot. The second shot allows the bright whites of his whiskers to cut across the darkest browns diagonally, which is always a graphic, or eye-drawing effect. We have lots more "grey tones" or middle values of white, orange, yellow, and some reds. The focus is soft because we had taken a many photos and varied his positions and our angles.

Jezebel. Pastel pencil on 9" x 12" Bristol paper. I love this kitty and thought my drawing looked rather cartoonish at one point because of the "other-worldliness" of her eyes. It feels like "art," which is so much prettier than "rendering," which is copying a photograph, so to speak. She also lives in Ontario. I make sure I keep well traveled friends in my portfolio; it makes me look smart.

Upside down Sandy. I frequently draw upside down, as it increases our subjectivity; we release expectations of what something "should" look like. We have no visual language for how we perceive an animal's features are drawn upside down. Therefore, we tend to see clearly the proper balance of the shapes, which are no longer "EYES." In painting an animal it is best to let his/her dominant features prevail, without filling in every detail, which is called a "photograph," paranthetical sarcasm implied. Any time an artist needs to figure our an area that is troublesome, looking at the image in a mirror or upside down always works because our brains have "dispensations" or imbalances in perception.

Closeup. The graphic designer is often happiest in the different modes of presentation and composition. This section successfully stands on its own, without needing the rest.

Sandy. Pastel pencil on 9" x 12" Bristol paper.
Sandy's parents are Vicki and Sean in Thunder Bay, Canada. 
Mom Vicki said upon receiving the painting that this was definitely her "Can we go for a walk look," which is a challenge in minus 32 degree temperatures. She is able to take care of the essentials, without the walk! I'm going to post "Steps" of the process of painting Sandy.

Kona and Nishka's parents upon receiving package and unveiling the paintings. I think that is Nishka eating the bubble wrap, or so it appears. Now, it's like they have four dogs.

Kona. Oil on 9" x 12" birchwood canvas. 
Kona lives in British Columbia, and I didn't think she was going to make it there. It took well over two weeks, almost three for her to arrive. Phew! His sister, Nishka, traveled with her and I'm going to post a photo or two of her parents opening the box from their long trip.

Nishka. Oil on 9" x 12" birchwood canvas. 
I thought that Nishka was going to be the easier of the two dogs, since her photograph contained a late afternoon sunlight "rim" around her head. However, it turned out differently; this was far harder to do that Kona, which I thought would be difficult with all the layers of white fur.
Roxie. Oil on 9" x 12" canvas.
I love this painting because of the genuine concern in her expression.
 Everyone who looks at this comments on her eyes and the caught emotion.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Sulu. Pastel on 9" x 12" Bristol paper.
Sulu was an experiment with a Siamese, who are typically a mixture of greys, yellows, black and whites. Because my pastel pencils have very few greys, I decided to have some fun and allow red and blue to form the dark tones. Sulu lives in Thunder Bay, Canada, but I think she belongs in a sultry film noir.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

North Georgia Mountains
Oil on canvas, 36" x 36"

Pastel on pastelboard, 11" x 14"