I feel better today…as I posted on the Maxfield and Madison Facebook page yesterday, I was reeeeeally sick all weekend.  I’m not entirely sure what it was, nor were the people at the urgent care place I went to, but they just threw antibiotics at me and it seems to have gone into retreat for the moment.

Unexpected illnesses are just not fair.  I had planned on going to the big street fair this weekend, to see what other artists were doing in terms of booth setup, maybe asking them questions, doing a little research.  But did Mr. Illness care about that?  Noooo.

I had planned to finish this painting on Saturday too…

But since I spent most of Saturday lying in bed with a fever, this did not happen.  However!  Today I made up for the lack of progress on things this weekend.
Since I was feeling better, I decided to tackle this painting.  I’d wanted to paint a westie (a West Highland white terrier, if you want to be specific), because I’ve always loved the breed, and I wanted to take a white dog and paint it in softer, more pastel colors than I usually use.  Blame all the Easter candy and decor that’s been in stores lately.

 This was basically my color palette inspiration.  Purple and pink tones on the dog, with light blue and seafoam green in the background.  With the seafoam and pink, it could even get a little late 80s/early 90s up in here.  But this is cool, because I don’t use these colors a lot, I tend to go for the REALLY BIG BRIGHTS!  And not everyone wants that on their pet portrait.  So I want to demonstrate that I can make it a little more…subdued.  While still being colorful.

And look!  I took pictures while I painted today, so you can see the work at different stages.  I hadn’t really done this before, but it’s kinda fun to see…

This westie is not sure if this painting is there yet.

Okay, this photo came out a little dark,  but it was late in the afternoon and the light is not great in my studio right now, but you get the idea.  The dark purple outlines from the first progress picture are what I do first, just to sketch it out and get in the darkest darks of the painting to start with.  The step seen above is the next level of shadows.  Lots of these shadows are just tentative and will get covered up, as you will see later…

Pinks!  I knew I wanted pinks in there, but I think I went a little bit crazy with them…and I wanted to lighten up around the eyes more, because they were getting lost.  So…

Now we’re getting there!  I lightened up a lot of those shadows, drybrushed over some of them in white to make them a lighter purple, gave more shape to some shadows (paws, tail…pretty much everywhere), and I threw more highlights on the nose and eyes for the sparkly eyes/wet dog nose look.  I went over some of the earlier, more “80s” pink with a pastel shade, just so it blended in and didn’t make our pup look like the token dog member of Jem and the Holograms.  I also knew I wanted to bring down the shadow between the eyes, so that it didn’t look like the eyes blended together in a giant angry blob…I thought this would look cuter and was closer to my original reference anyway.
Since we’re talking about references: for this one, and for lots of my dog paintings where I’m not trying for a likeness of an actual dog, I pieced together a couple different photos of westies in Photoshop.  So it’s a Franken-Westie!  I played with the colors in Photoshop too, just to see what it’d look like, but the painting usually ends up going in its own direction anyway.
It’s hardly done yet…the background’s not even begun, and that will change the whole look of the piece, which might mean the colors on the dog get adjusted, and then I might add some more definition to certain bits, or any number of things.  But I’m pretty pleased with it so far.  I’ll probably post a couple more progress photos later on this week as I go.  Maybe I’ll do some more “how this painting got painted” blog posts in the future, if it’s interesting to people.  Is it?  Well, it’s interesting to me…