Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How To Paint With Acrylic

I have received several requests to share my process with somewhat more of an explanation than what can be found on the DawgArt YouTube channel.

There are many valid techniques for the use of acrylic paint. As someone with over ten years of experience with this medium, I have developed my own process that works for me. Changing the amount of water used, the thickness of the paint, and the type of prepared ground will obviously create varying results. Experiment to find the process that works for you.

Step 1. Sketch out your painting. Be sure to mark where the different values will be by making a line sketch of interlocking shapes.

Step 2: Pick out your palette. Working with arbitrary color can be fun and exciting, but also just as easily, it can be scary and overwhelming. For your first painting, try a limited palette, choosing colors in a narrow range that harmonize well with each other. This way, you won't run into jarring juxtapositions of color that can discourage you. 

Tip: Researching artists you admire is a great way to experiment with color. Find a painting you like and try to emulate the palette.

Step 3. Set up your supplies. For each painting, I use professional grade, heavy body acrylic paint, water, two or three brushes, paper towels, and a triple-primed, cotton duck or linen canvas. Put the supplies on a tabaret or tabletop near the hand you'll be using, so you don't have to reach across your canvas every time. Set your canvas on an easel at an angle that is upright, but comfortable.

Tip: Don't set your canvas flat on the table top, unless you can lean directly over it. If you sit in your chair and paint on a canvas that's stretching away from you, your final painting will be stretched and distorted when you hold it up at eye-level.

Step 4: I always start by blocking in the darkest darks. To do this I use dioxazine purple. Every time. It doesn't matter what the final painting palette is going to be, I always start with this color. I don't paint with black. Choose a color in a dark shade and block in the darkest parts of the image, creating a value painting using only that color and white. For the darkest portions, the paint goes on thick, with very little water added. For lighter portions, the paint is applied to the brush, then dipped into the water briefly, excess tapped onto a paper towel. Mop any drips. 

Tip: Value is king; value refers to lights and darks. Value is the most important part of what will make your subject believable. No matter what colors you use, value is what will cause your subject to make sense. If you want your subject to appear to have volume, where you put your lights and darks is key to creating a cohesive and pleasing image. Pay attention to your reference and place your lights and darks accordingly.

Step 5: Choose the next darkest color in your palette and apply it in the areas of the painting with mid-range values. Acrylic paints are somewhat translucent, so the previous layer will show through on each subsequent glaze of color.

Tip: Work from general to specific. This means to use larger brushes at first, blocking in large and general shapes. Work with as large a brush as you feel comfortable with, and don't switch down to smaller until absolutely necessary. You won't work on tiny details until the end.

Step 6: Continue the process, adding new colors according to the values of your reference, working from darkest to lightest, adding white last.

Step 7: Take care of any ragged edges, things you may have overlooked, and tiny details. Check for eye traps, or places on the painting where your eye gets caught, for whatever reason. Acrylic dries fast, so you can paint over things that aren't working and try something else.

Tip: Don't get too obsessed with little details. Don't paint every individual hair. Your painting should feel spontaneous and lively, and noodling too much can bog it down.

Don't be afraid to make marks. Play on the canvas, experiment with color, and just have fun!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dogs in Tights

What's funny about this trend, is that some of these photos look bizarrely grotesque. Anyone care to predict the next inane photo trend involving pets?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Wildhorse Ranch Rescue and DawgArt

Over the years, I have been privileged to forge friendships with people in the rescue business. One of my favorite people is Kim Meagher, with Wildhorse Ranch Rescue.

Kim is one of the most passionate and kind people I know. She has been rescuing horses for almost 20 years.

Last night, I was privileged to participate in one of WHRR's events, a charity concert at the historic Orpheum Theater in Phoenix with Spencer Day as the headlining performer.

I gotta tell you, Spencer Day is brilliant. Two of his songs (he writes his own material) made me cry. I met him after the concert and we talked about music and art and mental illness and I can't tell you how much his music meant to me.

You can hear one of my favorite two songs here.

So how many of you have been to the Orpheum? I've never been there, and it was pretty amazing inside. Here are some photos of the interior. I had to use flash, so the atmosphere of the photos doesn't approach what I was experiencing, but you can get an idea at least of the detailing.

I brought two donated paintings featuring WHRR horses Finn, Dunny, and Einstein, and a blank canvas to work on. You can see the set up here. I started painting before the show started and basically finished the piece by intermission. It went really fast.

Here's the finished painting:

Would you like a print of this painting? Visit Etsy.

Would you like to purchase this painting? Click here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

You ARE creative

So I can't tell you how many people I've met who tell me, "I wish I was creative. I can't even draw a stick figure."

First of all, that statement is a ridiculous hyberbole. Of course you can draw a stick figure. The very nature of stick-figurey is that everyone can draw them. Everyone. Here's a stick figure comic of mine:

For more angsty and humorous stick figure comics, click here.

 But drawing aside, I have something to tell you.

You. Are. Creative.

Everyone is creative. Everyone. Just because you don't know how to draw doesn't mean you aren't creative. Just because you can't (or won't) sing, doesn't mean you aren't creative. Just because you don't write novels doesn't mean you aren't creative. You are creative. Everyone is.

Have you ever matched fabrics for your living room? Have you ever cut a peanut butter sandwich into a fun shape? Have you ever problem solved your way out of a financial pickle at work? Have you ever considered and implemented alternatives when your plan didn't work out? Have you ever thrown together a Halloween costume for your kid? Baked a pie? Fixed your car? Told a story? Arranged flowers? Planned an ensemble? Planted a garden? Taken a photo? Made a meme? Rewrote lyrics?

You're creative.

Human beings are naturally creative. And guess what? We're all building lives every day, creating a reality for ourselves, be it positive or negative, wanted or not. We are all creative. You know the idea that you need to be skilled in the visual or performance arts to be creative? Get rid of it, right now.

And while you're at it, get rid of the idea that skills in visual arts are magical, or even completely talent-based. Drawing and painting are learned skills. You can learn how to draw a realistic portrait just the same as you can learn how to solve a complex algebraic equation. If you admire skills in the visual arts, start learning! You're already creative, so take your creativity in a direction that excites and nurtures you.

For those who are considering the possibility of developing their skills in the visual arts, here are some books to help you get in touch with that side of your creativity. Have fun!

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Cracking Creativity by Michael Michalko

365: A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

The Confident Creative by Cat Bennett

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron


Doodling With Jim Henson

Art Masterpieces

Art Nouveau

Girls' Doodle Book - There's a boy's doodle book too, but I'm a girl, so I like the girly stuff more.

Do You Doodle?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Out and About with DawgArt

The lovely folks over at Central Kansas Veterinary Center recently purchased a series of DawgArt prints for their space from my Etsy shop. They sent over photos to show me how it looks now. I think it's fabulous!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Contest Winners!

Thanks everyone for participating in the photo contest to compete for a free 16x20 inch print of an original DawgArt painting featuring your pet! I received so many submissions, and I have to say, there are some cute furbies out there.

The outcome of this contest was based on many factors including: lighting, ability to see small details, my intended interpretation and use, and more. Because these paintings will be for a series of demos I was asked to do by Walter Foster Publishing for a painting instruction book called, The Art of Painting in Acrylic, which will come out next summer, there were certain photos that would work better than others.

HOWEVER, because of the response I received, I have decided to hold this free print contest again. There will be different factors deciding the winners in each contest. So stay tuned and be ready!

Here are the winners:

Olive from Beth Fitzpatrick

Cheetah from Andrea Vissotzky

 Lady Bailee from Johanna Dufort Hunt

 Snot from Lauren Fitzgerald

I know I announced that there would be three, but I just had to add one more. I don't know which of these four will be in the book, but all four will receive a free print of their original painting. Congratulations!