My latest painting, a memorial for a dog named Denzil. He was a very loved senior pup, almost 14 when he died earlier this year and I was commissioned to paint his portrait as a birthday gift.
As an animal lover myself, I always spend a little more time obsessing about these, trying to make each one the best of which I’m capable. Our pets occupy special places in our lives and unless you’ve had to say goodbye to a furry family member, something each of us must face eventually, you can’t really understand that unique loss. Eventually the sadness is replaced with only the happy memories, and that takes longer for some than others. This is often front of mind while I work on these and I’ll admit to getting a little misty eyed from time to time while painting a memorial portrait, especially when the personality shows up and it finally comes together.
This was printed at 12″ x 16″ on canvas giclée with a shadow box frame. I’ve often said that I believe my work looks best on canvas and this was no exception. These iPhone pics of the canvas (above and below) really don’t do the quality of this print justice, credit to Kelly at Chroma Surge in Calgary who never lets me down. I believe this is my best work to date and I was very pleased with the result.
For those interested in the tech info, this was painting in Photoshop CC using both a Wacom Cintiq 13HD and a Cintiq 24HD. I had the luxury of months to work on this painting, so I have no idea how long the actual painting took as I worked on it in between other deadlines. Photos were only used for reference and all painting was done with digital brush work alone.
Here’s my latest painting, the Bald Eagle Totem. This one was a real challenge because of the ‘white’ feathers which really aren’t white at all. I used three different reference photos for this one. The main image was from well-known wildlife photographer, Moose Peterson. It was a full body shot of a bald eagle and while all of the main features I needed were there and it was a very good photo to work from, I had to buy a couple of stock photos as well, ones that focused on the close-up details of the main features. I’ve started to use a minimum of three reference photos for my paintings this year, all paid for or used with permission, of course. I find that more images provides more insight and I can do a better job with the details.
From looking at the three reference photos, I quickly realized that bald eagles are just like people. Their features can be very different from one another, the colouring of their feathers, even the shape and texture of their beaks. So between the three images, I had to make my own choices, based on what I liked and which features from all three would best contribute to the final painting.
One choice I made was to include warmer tones around the face, blending out to cooler colours around the edges and shadows. As I said, white really isn’t white, so painting the feathers was about finding a balance between yellow and blue and the tones in between. There’s even some magenta in there. While another artist might not have chosen to make the blues so prominent, I really liked how those tones contributed to the overall mood of the image. It felt right, so I went with it and while it still fits the look of my other Totems, it has a different light quality to it.
As for the expression, I don’t know where that comes from. As I’ve said about many paintings before this one, the personality just seems to show up at some point during the painting process and I’m really pleased with this one. Pardon my candor, but he just looks like an absolute bad-ass, and I love that.
On to the next one!