Three calf pencil up

Three calves

Last fall I started to pencil up this sketch of three calves that lived across our road.  They made a nice composition and fortunately are three different colors.

Holiday commissions and then a surprising six orders first of the year pushed this little drawing to the back of the line. Then I took a pen and ink break to do the fruit paintings because I needed to do something different for a bit.

Felix with preliminary watercolor

Felix with some watercolor

Felix with some watercolor

I decided to jump right in and start watercoloring Felix.  Sometimes it is just better to dive in, come what may.  If I think too much about what I want to do, I start to get overly cautious.  So far I like the black, but I think it needs to be darker in places.  It’s not quite clear that he is a black horse yet and I haven’t decided whether or not to add his “worried” eyebrow.  The trick, as always, is not to overdo it.

I will be taking a short break on Felix, which is probably not a bad thing.  I already see some parts to darken.  I got a house commission over the weekend and will have to devote the drawing table to getting it out.  It is on the small side, so it will be quick, but it has some very cute eave details.

Inked Felix

Felix

Felix

Here is the preliminary inking of Felix.  He is a black horse (my nemesis in pet portraits as black is so hard) so the interplay between the ink and the watercolors will be interesting.  I will have to be aware of the light reflections off of his coat so he doesn’t get overly dark.  I also don’t necessarily want the watercolors to overwhelm the inking, but it may turn out that the inking is more of a guideline for the coloring than an accent feature.

He often has a slightly worried look on his face, indicated by a slight upward pucker in his eyebrows and it is so characteristic of him that I think it has to be there at some level.  He really is a bit of a Nervous Nellie but a wonderful and kind horse to ride.  I feel so fortunate to know him.

I will start the watercolors but then go back to add some more ink where I need to afterwards.  This will definitely be a multi-session piece.

Calf character

Calf portrait

Calf portrait

It has been quite warm this week and I have started to work some outside.  The weeds seem to have started up more than my flowers and I am trying to get a head start, especially on the dandelions.  Show me your yellow flower, and you’re gone! They are easy to spot right now and with the rain we had last week, I can pull most weeds up with the help of my hand trowel.  I have already pulled 2 wheelbarrows full so I’m feeling pretty good about that.  Not too much too soon or my hands will let me know about it.

In the meantime, I have pretty well finished up the watercolor calf.  I’ve deepened his coloring and added more to the background.  Although this is the same calf I did the acrylic head shot of a while back, the tone is a little bit less personal, I think.  Farther away, he doesn’t look quite so curious – more like he is staring hard, deciding if he should stay or run.  I’ll probably list him in my etsy store this week.

How now brown cow

Brown watercolor calf

Brown watercolor calf

I am so ready for nice weather.  March was on the warm side, but April has been quite the roller coaster – pleasantly warm and then nights of mid 20’s with cold, windy days.  I hope this week is starting a consistent spring trend.  I always get worried if it gets too warm too early and the early emergers get burned by frost.

I finally set myself down at the drafting table and decided to go back to the watercolors for a bit.  I went through my cattle photos again and liked this one.  I think it is the same calf that I did the close-up head shot of with the acrylics.  He’s a photogenic kind of guy, isn’t he.  After I did the preliminary inking, I loosely applied the first layer of paint.  His coat color has bled into the background some, but I’m not concerned.  I’ll use it to add depth and just be a little more careful in the next phase.

I have made 4 sales in my etsy store so far this month, a record for me.  Spring is starting out with a bang.  I’ll have to get this guy listed as soon as I have finished.

Polar bear #2

Polar bear

Polar bear

Second effort on the polar bear.  I’m not totally happy with the shadow underneath, but it looks better in the real thing than in the photo.  I think it just needs to be softened a bit.  Sometimes the photos, while not totally accurate, give me hints on how to improve whatever I am working on.  I am sticking to an impressionistic style for the time being due to my inability to paint the detail work thus far.  I’m not unhappy with the way the animals are turning out, but I would like to be able to do more detail work.  I’ll probably paint one more time on this before I call it quits, mostly refining the darker, shaded areas.

The flowers have decided it must be spring, even if the calendar says not quite yet.  My daffodils on the hillside next to my garage parking area started to bloom over the weekend.  I hope the weather cools off at least slightly.  Daffodils prefer it to be cooler rather than warmer and the blooms last longer if it stays below 60.  70’s are too warm and the flowers will fade quickly.

Finished Inking

Inking completed

Inking completed

Well, I must say I am pretty pleased with the portrait so far. It was a little complicated using older pictures for the landscaping and newer ones for the structure itself, but it turned out fine.  I ended up doing the left and right landscaping last because I had to determine what I needed to do.  The right side views conflicted, new and old, and the left was partially blocked by a car.  I thought long and hard how to resolve the issues.

I laid down the preliminary pastels today but it will still take several days to finish. It is so large I have to stand at my table when I work on the upper area.  And after I do finish, I will need to let it sit for a day to get fresh eyes.  Even if I finish it by the weekend, I may wait until after the holiday to send it out.

Another little fox drawing

Arctic fox 2

Arctic fox 2

I enjoyed creating the last fox painting and decided to use another picture from the zoo visit.  Once again I used the ink to delineate him and then filled him out with the watercolors.  I used the same color palette so they make a nicely matched set.  I think I’ll list them as a pair in my etsy shop later this week.

We hiked our north and south paths today in nice weather.  The high temperatures have been in the 40’s and 50’s lately and we finally had a chance to go out and walk.  It was a little muddy but otherwise a lovely day.  We have had some high wind gusts lately and expected to have to pick up a lot of fallen branches, but it really wasn’t bad.  There was more debris in the back yard than on the trails.

The Two Miniature Schnauzers

Schnauzers

Schnauzers

I managed to get the inking almost finished a few days ago. Because they have such wiry, spikey hair, I wanted to leave the final inking until after I did most of the watercolors. I don’t want to have them get overly dark and sometimes the best way to accomplish that is to make the final ink touches last of all.  I do think that their colorful neck scarves will liven up their grey coat colors and I am looking forward to painting those.

I have had to hold off on the watercolors for a few days though. While the drawing was in the rest phase after the preliminary inking, I developed a swollen right cornea and couldn’t see much out of my eye except a big blur. I went to the eye doctor right away and ended up getting some steroid drops for it.  We don’t know why it happened, just that it did.  I must have irritated it somehow and my contacts didn’t help.  It has improved and I can now see okay.  Unfortunately, I can’t wear my contacts until I am done with the drops on Thursday and my glasses have to be on the edge of my nose for close up vision.  As you might guess, that is not comfortable for an extended period of time.  Since I rarely wear them, I never had a pair made with bifocals, plus I can’t find a small enough frame.  I would be considered legally blind if I did not have corrective lenses.  The current fashionable frames are so huge, with my prescription, I’d look like I had beady little eyes peering out.  Not a great look for me.  I do think I’ll try to work some later today after the football games are over.  Maybe short sessions will work out.

I have 3 architecturals in the queue right now so I need to get this finished.  It’s going to be a busy fall, which is a fun prospect.

Miniature Schnauzers

The two boys

The two boys

I have been able to start on the first of my commissions this week- the dog one.  I am putting two miniature schnauzers onto the same board so I have to work on both at once.  I did do those three red vizslas dogs at once a while back so I have done this before, but these are hairy guys and I need to get that right.

I started the pencil up Monday and worked on it some since then.  I like the left one more than the right.  The right guy has a little too much of Lady and the Tramp in him yet, so he may have to sit a while for me to gain some perspective.  The inside eye is is almost totally in shadow in the photo so I will have to kind of fake that, but I am more concerned with their whiskeryness.  I don’t want to overdo or underdo the wiry hair with the inks.  We shall see.  They both also have cute scarves around their necks which will liven up the colors from the basic grays and browns.

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