Pet Portraits

I found this (above) on the inter webs this week and it cheered me up. I never had the legs or the blonde hair or the English accent (isn’t that a Morris Minor?) but I used to have those shoes! I was cool! I AM cool!

Kids born in the 1990s have an inkling that life was funner in the olden days, which is obvious in my Summer of 2020 song which is the Gen Z version of Kool and the Gang and it’s ridiculously cute and it makes me wish I could give a party just so I could get everyone drunk and happy and dancing. Watch the video for no other reason than to see if bell bottoms still look cute on 24-year olds.

However, here we are, at another Friday in the Age of COVID:

 

 

 

 

I’ve never felt this way in August, but I am so over 2020, so ready for this year to be over, and I’m sure that everyone feels the same way. All we can do in the meantime is to keep sane and busy with projects that feed the soul. You all know that my project to get me through the end of Summer is digging out the old watercolors and painting some adorable pets, an activity that I highly recommend as a way to concentrate on pure love in such a time of hate.

If you have any questions about techniques or materials, just ask!

In case you didn’t read my blog on Wednesday, I painted our Dear Reader Sophie for her human, Susie in Wisconsin:

Today I will be painting Dudley . . .

. . . and Gypsy. . .

. . . the best doggos in the world who belong to Rachel and Don in the soon-to-be blue state of Texas.

This will be a double portrait,which raises the stakes. I like to live dangerously.**

**No, I absolutely do not.

As usual, I start with the eyes.

Sorry this is so dark. I wanted to show you the pencil lines I put in for the doggo, but they don’t show much here. They are very light, and give me the general shape of the doggo’s head and nose. I don’t need a whole lot of detail.

I am going to use bleeds for this portrait because I LOVE bleeds, and these pups have the right kind of coloring to let the paper and the paint do all the work, instead of having me PAINT everything.

I mixed the paint for Dudley’s fawn-colored fur using two shades of brown, Payne’s Gray, a tiny bit of black, yellow ochre, all mixed into a thick base of a base of a peachy-tinted paint from my Grumbacher Deluxe Opaque Watercolor set (24 pans).

The color I’m talking about is the one that’s half-hidden there (see above), on the right under the purple pan. I don’t have the name of the color, but it’s my favorite base because it’s very chalky and I love what it does on paper, and I love how it interacts with other paint.

You can see what I mean in these bleeds here, the way the black paints has such an interesting capiallry action when it meets this chalky Dudley-hue:

You might know that boxers have “frown lines” on their faces. I’m not going to paint them, but I will suggest their presence with a wisp of paint  here  and  there.

The pup needs some blue to highlight his nose:

And now we do the cheekies:

The wet paper shines a bit. No? Yes? Can you see?

I was hoping you would see, in this photo (above) how wet I am making the paper before I drop in some paint for more bleeds:

While I am working on Dudley, I have covered the Gypsy part of the painting with a clear plastic sheet-protector because if I didn’t, sure as shit I would splatter paint or drop a loaded paintbrush and all would be ruined. So, safe-guard your work!

Boxer have droopy eyes, which I saved until the end. The shape  of their  droop  is what gives  boxers  thier  expressions:

Now it’s Gypsy’s turn:

 

I was almost DONE when I looked at the completed faces, but I didn’t like just having two floating heads together. So I’m drawing in Dudely’s collar:

OK, now we are DONE.

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Have a great weekend, everyone. Lord knows that we all deserve a break from the constant bad news, so please take a few hours and find a place to feel safe and warm (or cool, if you’re in California) and pretend that it’s 2004 — my favorite year because I married Top Cat, but feel free to use your own annus mirabiles, and tell us about it in the Comments. We like to live vicariously.

I probably won’t be here on Wednesday because very few people (thank you to those precious few!) read the Wednesday posts anymore, but I’ll be back here next Friday with another Pet Portrait (spoiler: it’s a cat) and more stuff from the internet that renews your faith in humanity, one meme at a time.

And, oh yeah. . .

. . . Fuck Trump.

 

This guy is also a member of the NRA and voted for Trump in 2016. Let’s hope he represents millions more 2016 Trump voters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, I’m still laughing at how 2020 never gets any better. Because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right?

So today’s Super Cute Pup is Sophie:

Sophie helped her human, Susie in Wisconsin, show The Stromness Rock the delights of The Badger State, and for that we (and The Rock) are thankful.

Sophie is Super Cute from a human point of view, but from a watercolor painter’s POV, Sophie is a fucking nightmare. She’s a black dog, and she’s a black dog with texture. I’m supposed to paint those luscious curls? ON AN ALL BLACK DOG??

How can I not make her look like a bowl of blobby ink?

Well, the answer is, I cheat. The trick to painting her is to exaggerate the subtle colors that dear Sophie has in her adorable shaggy fur. I see: blue, brown, and grey in her black fur. So I’m going to go with that, and see if I get away with it.

I only need a few guiding pencil lines:

Eyes first, to make sure that they don’t go wonky and wall-eyed and that they are staring at the viewer with doggy luv:

I have to confess that I did a trial run on Sophie, experimenting with brushes and bleeds to see how far I could go with NOT painting her all black, so I’ve already made all my mistakes in painting a BLACK dog, and this is what I’ve learned: Go Easy. Don’t use a lot of paint.

So, this is me, dabbing in some highlights:

Now I hit the BLACK:

Luckily, the paint was wet enough that I could pick up the excess black (see below), and let it dry, and then start to layer in the serious black stuff:

Notice that I’m painting OVER the lighter stuff, that is, painting in the BACKGROUND over the FOREGROUNd. It goes against the natural order, but this is what you have to do when you plot out where your darks and lights have to go, and how it’s feasible to do it in watercolor.

 

This is where I add wisps of fur to give Sophie her signature “fluffiness”:

OK, now we are going to go in and make those soulful eyes:

Blue paint for the nose:

I must let you all know that I bought a book about dog breeds because it has a very good chapter on various dog noses, with close up photographs, because I needed a reference on exactly how dog noses were constructed so I could paint them correctly. Believe me, I know dog noses, and here is me doing Sophie’s hooter:

Oh, right: while the paint was drying on her nose, I added more fluff to her little chin, thusly:

 

I added expression lines to her forehead, knowing that when the paint dries the lines will be softer.  This is why you have to use the same paints and the same paper religiously, because that’s the only way you will know what your paint and what your paper will do, as in this case, where it looks like I am painting too darkly but I know that this is OK with these paints and this paper:

DONE:

OK, I’m sorry that these pix are so dark, but this is The Girl Sophie and my painting of her:

Here on the north shore of Long Island the mornings are getting darker. Wait. that’s wrong. The mornings are just as bright as they’ve always been, it’s just that they are starting later. What used to be daybreak (the time that I would set out for my 6-mile run) at 5:17 a month ago is now 5:44. August. Catch it while you can.

Steve, the real cat who lives on our front stoop, is on one of his walkabouts and we haven’t seen him for the past three days, but last evening there was a new cat on the front steps. He’s a brown tabby, stocky, and not at all shy, so I got a glass of wine and my iPod and I sat on the stoop listening to my K-pop playlist, throwing Temptations kitty treats to a strange cat until it got so dark that I couldn’t see him in the nightfall. It was an oddly pleasant way to spend a half hour of August.

Let’s check in with the culture and see if there’s anything to give us hope and joy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the round up for today, Dear Readers. I’ll be back on Friday with MORE PET PORTRAITS and, oh yeah…

…Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

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I don’t know if the situation on Long Island is still news to anyone who doesn’t live on Long Island, but we are still cleaning up from last week’s tropical storm Isaias. The last 4,000 homes without power were restored yesterday, and all the trees that fell into roadways and onto houses are cleared, but all this means that there are enormous piles of firewood stacked up at every curb, and even bigger tree trunks decorating front yards:

I’ve seen utility workers from Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and New Brunswick Canada working in our area. They are so cute: they travel in convoys of 4-5 huge trucks, like flocks of duckies, following the leader because god forbid they lose their way in the wilds on the Isle of Long. And by the way, what with the 24-hour generators, the power line crews that start at 7am, the landscapers with their chain saws who start cutting at 8am…the noise level around here has been deafening.

But I want to thank everyone of these guys for coming to our aid. And one day, I hope to have internet access for more than 30 minutes at a time.

So while the ol’ computer is juiced up, let’s take a look at our Project For The Week:

This handsome fella is a long-haired dachshund named Pippen. Pippin, along with our Dear Reader Alexandra, hosted The Stromness Rock in the great state of Washington and for that, we are going to immortalize him in watercolor.

The first thing I do is I study the photo reference. I look for where I will be leaving the blank whiteness of the paper to show, where I will need to bleed, and figure out what layers of colors will go on top of each other from light to dark. I can’t stress how important it is to have a plan before you start to paint.

Then I make a few light pencil lines on my favorite 90-lb. Carson paper:

I start with the eyes because in the past, I’ve gotten a portrait almost completed when I went in for the windows of the soul and loused it up so that I had to throw away hours of work. So, lesson learned; start with the eyes.

I tested a blend of yellows and browns and burnt umber (up there in the corner)before I had a correct shade:

So I got the eye pointing in the right direction…whew.

This handsome fella has a complicated coat of many colors, so I’m going to start with the lightest colors first:

I love my 90-lb. Carson paper because I’ve been using it for over 15 years and I know what this paper will do. So here, I’m going to let the paper and some very watery paint do a light bleed:

I have to work fast because I want to work “wet’ here, and then I want to let it dry for a few seconds so I can drop in some very deep black without letting it run:

 

I was telling Top Cat about Pippin, here, and I mentioned that Pippen has a brother, another handsome long-haired dachshund named…named…and I couldn’t remember.

“But I know it has something to do with Douglas MacArthur.” I said.

Top Cat started guessing, “Doug? Dougie? Mac?”

I suddenly remembered.

Truman!” I shouted, feeling very pleased with myself for filing his name (the dog’s) in a place (under “American General, Korean War, fired by”) where I could access it.

Pippen has very expressive eyebrows, so here (below) I am adding some black to re-shape his eye socket into more of a raised-eyebrow kind of “look”:

I also widened the pupil. See what I mean? It’s subtle, but necessary:

I am adding light gray here, because even though it’s a shadow (of sorts), it’s not a dark shadow:

Ears next. Ears, oh ears…they are hard. These ears are long and silky and quite glamorous.

Let’s try to mix the colors with less water this time:

And now I can go to town with the excellent black paint I have (Winsor Newton):

Lay in an undercoat of gray:

And let’s compare:

These are the smooches next in line for portraiture: Kitty, Gypsy, Dudley, and Sophie.

Each of them has their own challenges — I mean, Sophie is mostly shades of black and dark gray and how in the world am I supposed to do that — so it should be interesting. For me, any way. I hope you’ll enjoy watching the paint dry.

In the meantime, various Trumps and all the Republicans have been working hard this past week to make sure life in America really, really sucks, so let’s review:

 

And others were also outraged:

 

 

And then Joe Biden announced his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris:

In case you forgot who Eric Trump is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay sane until next Friday, Dear Readers.

In the meantime…

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

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