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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Three Things I've Learned about Painting Cats & Dogs

'The Boys'              11x14           pastel         ©Karen Margulis   SOLD
 It all began with cats.  My return to art that is.  I was a busy mom with no time to paint so when my kids reached high school I decided it was time to get back to art. I began doing colored pencil drawings of my cats. They weren't very good but it was enough to whet my appetite .  I moved on to pastel and landscapes but I still enjoy a return to painting animals one in awhile.  I have learned some things that I'd like to share.

working from photos and a color study
Three things I've Learned about Painting cats and Dogs
  • Paint the eyes first!  But if you do have open eyes go ahead and get them right at the start.  The eyes are what give life to your animal so it is important to capture them.  I will put in the eyes and get them complete but will always come back and reinforce them at the end of the painting.  This way I don't have to look at a lifeless animal while I paint. Once the eyes are there I have tackled the hardest part.

  • Don't wait to put in the background. Decide at the start what kind of background you want. Will it just be blocks of color or will it be representational in some way?  If you want to paint things in the background such as furniture, windows etc.  take care not to make the things too detailed or have hard edges.  You don't want the background to take away from your star (the animal)  I like to suggest the things by painting blocks of color and shapes.  If I just want color I try to choose a color that either complements or is used in the animal.  I ALWAYS stat putting in the background as soon as I block in the painting. I work on the background at the same time as I work on the animal.
  • Think beyond Local Color.   Stop before you reach for the brown pastel!  or black or white or yellow.  Fur color is much complex than the local color names we give it.  Black for example has blues, red and purples in it. White can have pale values of any color.  I have written a post about painting fur color that you might like to read HERE.

These Siamese Cat paintings are available on my website.http://karenmargulis.weebly.com/animals.html

If you would like to discuss a pet portrait commission email me for details kemstudios@yahoo.com

1 comment:

beckielboo said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I sort of knew most of it but was really struck by "Black for example has blues, red and purples in it. White can have pale values of any color." I'm not a trained painter so just a simple sentence like that can really make a difference to me. I thought I should tell you it mattered!