I got an email from a new artist acquaintance, Karen, after correspondence about a commission she did for me. It was of our weimeraner puppy, Calvin. Her charming rendition of Calvin was a mischievous, self-centered, spirited, energetic, and demanding toddler puppy, which suited him perfectly. The colors she used were spot on. Obvious to anyone that it was a weimeraner by the tone of gray in the fur, and the bluest of eyes that Weims sport when newborns and toddlers. She highlighted his facial features with a soft palette, and created a background, smearing every happy color imaginable behind her subject. The painting is lively, and very true to the nature of this playful (and rotten) dog.
A couple weeks later, I decided to give it a go myself, in my own modern brand of portraiture. I like to limit my palette to focus on the subject, without color getting in the way. The problem with this is that I have a favorite color, Payne's Gray, that somehow commandeers every stinking portrait I start. The color begins as a low light, then works it's way into my highlights, and everything after. I end up with an almost monochromatic painting, which is fine, if every single one weren't Payne's Gray. I'm starting to think that perhaps, with all of this dark on my palette, that I'm sad (shocking for an artist, right?)
So, I showed this new acquaintance (via email) the portrait of our Calvin that I did. The dog looked as if he should be on antidepressants (or perhaps I should be?). He looks sallow, thin, sad, and utterly miserable. What the dog looks like if no one plays with him for an hour a day, or forgets his favorite chewy rawhides after his morning meal.
Karen suggested I hide the gray somewhere in the house and only use happy colors, mixing them myself, beginning with the primaries, and branching out from there. Here's the problem. I started a new painting today, and although I've completed all the ground work and it's all in Payne's gray (with French Gray mixed in), I really like it. It's soothing. My subject is sleeping restfully and the Payne's Gray really puts the mood in the painting. So, is it a problem that I have a favorite color that just so happens to look like a sort of navy-gun metal gray? The answer (today) is no...as long as I'm not painting a puppy. It suits my work today just perfectly, it's heavy, thin, drippy, background, foreground, everything!!! It looks good.
Thank you Karen for the advice, but I wait to take it until my sleeping subject painting is done, and then decide if I'm willing to hide the gray.
So, see below for what's on my easel...I'm hoping to have this one finished by Saturday.
T- 7 days until I leave for Thailand! I'll have some (hopefully) new pieces from my trip in the works for the summer show at West Annapolis Artworks. Oh, and thank you to Fra Angelica in the Fifth Street Arcades, Cleveland for the large wholesale purchase of my fiber duds last week! I appreciate it!!!
I couldn't get rid of the glare below. Sorry about that. And remember, this is just the beginning of the piece, the groundwork. Thanks for looking...