Shelby, Belgian Malinois
16 x 20 Oil
© 2017 Carole Rodrigue
Everyone, meet Shelby, a beautiful Belgian Malinois I was fortunate enough to have been commissioned to paint.
When I was asked to paint her, I was given several reference photos. They were all great references, good lighting, most outdoors with natural light, and high resolution so I could see the details. This particular reference sang to the artist in me, however. For an artist, the light is always the most important aspect of a painting, or it should be, even more than detail. You can have a very detailed, realistic, and . . . boring painting. If the light doesn't grab you, no matter how technically perfect and detailed a painting may be, you'll soon be bored with it if there's no mood or magical light. This painting reference had everything, therefore this was the one I suggested to the client and am I ever happy she went along with my suggestion!
I've had so many people tell me they thought this was my best painting yet. What I know for sure is that they were gripped by the lighting. They might not realize it, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the light is what grabbed their attention. Details are secondary. I could've omitted all of the fine hair details and painted a loose painting and still had the same reactions.
It's the lighting folks, the lighting. Details are important in a reference in order to get the true personality of the pet, and especially the eyes, perfect, but the lighting is what will make people's heart sing.
I'm posting a photo below of a few progress shots. As always, I started with a toned canvas. I toned with with turpentine and burnt umber, then wiped clean after a few minutes. This needed to be completely dry before proceeding with my sketch transfer.
Once the sketch was transferred, I started painting outlines with burnt umber again, and then gradually building up my layers, letting each dry in between. The finer details are always saved until the very end, except for the eyes. Like most artists, I like to paint the eyes in at the beginning, this way I know if I've already go the likeness and then can proceed safely with the rest of the painting. It's safe to say over 40 hours were put into this piece, although not all at the same time. It took about one month to complete between drying times. I then varnish with Gamvar. They have a new matt varnish that will be used on this, eliminating shine. This is my favorite varnish since it can be applied once the painting is dry to the touch and the deepest parts don't sink in when you push with your nail. Since I paint in thin layers, this is a quick process once dry.
I hope you enjoyed this one and now I'm getting ready to paint a wildlife scene as well as a Husky commission. I've also got a couple more Malinois commissions lined up as well once the Husky is completed. Until next time . . .
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