Were you always an artist?

I’m taking an online course called Klein Artist Works. He asks all the artists that speak via webinar and the ones taking the course, did they always know they were an artist? or when did they know they were artists. Tonight I’m thinking about that. I remembered something. I stayed after Mrs. Wriggles’ art class to help clean up. 3rd or 4th grade. We had been doing something with India ink and I’d made a mess. I ended up staying in the art room the whole afternoon and no one noticed I was gone. Mrs. Wriggles wasn’t even there. Mr. White was the custodian and he had a huge barrel of clay in the basement. It was covered with sawdust and a damp cloth to keep it wet. He would give me a lump of it anytime I asked. Once they had a kid’s carnival at Edison School and they had a cake walk. I won and got to choose what I wanted and I chose the camera. It was plastic. It took 120 film I had to order from the drug store. I was 11 years old and I chose the camera instead of a... read more

But Shannon, I want to paint my own pet! Lesson # 1

Well now you can. I’m going to show you what I did on my most recent commission; Yogi, the happiest dog in cartoon land. I’ll post a few photos I took and what I look for in a photo and then how I get started to the very end. First, here is the painting on my easel, just before I put my signature on it. I did put a glaze of gloss medium on the nose, eyes and tongue. Kind of has the effect of a spot varnish in printing. I looked at this and decided his nose looked a little crooked. Straightened that up to. Okay, let’s start with the scrap (that’s painter talk for the photos we work from) Cute, huh? I actually took perhaps 100 pictures of Yogi. I set my camera on high speed burst.  I worked mainly from this one. Now why this photo? I needed a picture where I could see the color of yogi’s eyes. I also do random searches online looking for things I need. I was looking at other retriever’s noses and ears for clues. Every painting I learn something. There are golden retrievers with really wide foreheads, for example. Important Tip:  Look at that top photo of Yogi: I chose that picture because there is light and shadow on his face, especially important on the nose so I can get a sense of 3 dimensions. I get down low, eye level with the dog. This creates intimacy. This was the first pass. I put in big sloppy shapes of color. Important? The tilt of the head, those two big... read more

Angus – nearly there

What I did today. I think a little more structure to the body and he’s there. I had fun abstracting the background. Jeez, who knows, I may end up doing full on abstraction... read more

Angus progress

A painter friend said once that she listens to music while painting to occupy the stupid part of her brain. Lately I am really getting into listening to books on tape. Listened to ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ last and am now listening to ‘War and Peace’. This was the first pass on Angus. As you will see, it’s changed a lot. I had the owner take more photos. They live in southern California and we live 35 miles north of San Francisco. I used a squeegee to lay in some of the big areas of color and lots of acrylic medium to add texture. I’m loving building up layers of texture and then washes over top dripping down. You can see it’s changed quite a bit from the first pass.  ... read more

Progress on Angus : a commission

I am having such a good time with this painting! With these pet portraits the landscape is as important as the figure. I look at old master portraits and the allegories, often from biblical or mythological tales are imbedded in my work.... read more

My First Pet Portrait : Agnes : She Loves but One

I believe this was my first pet portrait. This is my sister Erin’s cat. She’s still with us and has never adjusted to her housemate,  Pearl the pug. Agnes has always been a one woman cat. I can see a big difference in this painting from how I work now. This painting is very lean without a lot of layering. I work in acrylics now and find it more challenging to get a rich black. Acrylics invite layering.... read more