Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lola - oil on canvas, 11x14 inches

11x14 inches
Oil on canvas (on panel)

Some friends asked me to paint a picture of their late dog, Lola. She was a really loving and gentle dog, so I did my best to put together a fitting tribute.

Here are a few progress shots from my phone. First, the rough thumbnail sketch I used to plan the composition.
Here is a shot of the block-in.
A little further along. I moved the tree over to the left a little to make things balance better.
I used some glazing and scumbling to unify the fence and grass with themselves. I know these progress shots probably make it seem like I work in a willy-nilly way. Maybe... But I do like to get something rough down first, and then refine it. And I also like working the whole canvas at once, rather than finishing one part all the way, then moving on and finishing another part all the way, etc. Working the whole thing at once keeps me from putting in too much distracting detail.
I painted this on canvas, which went slack as soon as I finished the block-in. Grrrr. So rather than risk ruining the work I'd already done by restretching it, I took the canvas off the stretchers and mounted it to panel. Ampersand has a nice cheat sheet for that here. Panels are much better than stretched canvas anyway... Being rigid, they're subjected to less flexing (from temperature, humidity, and careless humans) than a stretched canvas, which means less strain on the painted surface, less cracking, etc. Mounting canvas on panel gives you the best of both worlds: the texture and feel of the canvas with the stability of a rigid support.

Older works on panel in museums are almost always in better shape than those on stretched canvas. Did you know the Mona Lisa was painted on panel? And the Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck, painted in 1434 (!)? I hope I look that good when I'm 580 years old.