View Full Version : Need help with background suggestions

Ellen in Ont
08-29-2005, 05:05 PM
This is the commission I am doing that has to be done by Sept 5. The client originally wanted her dog and two cats done separately but didn't want to pay for three paintings. I suggested just doing all three heads on one painting. It saves me time not doing the bodies and background for three of them. But I am having trouble figuring out what to do with the blank space behind their heads and in the bottom right.
This is just the underpainting - I have to now go in and do a lot more with the dog and cats. But before I get too far I need suggestions for the background... leave it white? make it dark? make it a neutral midtone? and what colour?
Any suggestions would be gratefully considered. :)


Celeste McCall
08-29-2005, 06:15 PM
A dark version of the front cat color.....so a darkish gold or rusty color maybe?

Or, a dark cool color with a goldish tint....such as a dark goldish green?

Both...in a gradation?

That would pull the color of the eyes of the cats and also marry background and front subject.

08-29-2005, 06:41 PM
I was also thinking golds and greens -- to pick up the color in the cats, but also some of the browns/golds in the dog's coat and looks like you have a hint of green around the mouth as well. Granted it is the underpainting, but I think it will still bring the colors together nicely.

08-30-2005, 05:26 AM

Good suggestions ^^^ already. Your underpainting is looking good—a background color will help unify the three heads. At this time, they still look kind of isolated.


Ellen in Ont
08-30-2005, 01:17 PM
Thanks for the suggestions Celeste, Sara, and Sylvia. I am continuing to work on it and thought you might be interested in my progress. I am using your suggestions for green/gold for the background but I have many more layers to apply to it yet. One glaze is going to be purplish. :D Some of the masking is still in place and that is the greenish colour on the dog's teeth.


08-30-2005, 01:45 PM
Ellen, I am in awe of your skill/talent!!!! The person who commissioned this is going to be over the moon with joy - already looking sooooo great!!!!

08-30-2005, 02:02 PM
Beautifully done ,I want that Golden Kitty . She is Yummy !

Agree with Uschi !
june :clap: :clap:

08-30-2005, 03:27 PM
I like the background color in there, Ellen, it does the job of tying the heads together!

Looking forward to watching as you add more washes. The eyes on all three animals are already wonderful and captivating and that is what really makes a painting come alive.


08-30-2005, 03:51 PM
Hi Ellen... like Uschi, I'm awed by your ability to capture the personalities of the animals you paint... and your background looks great... your client will be thrilled with this!!!

08-30-2005, 04:00 PM
Ellen- Nice work, Great job on the animals! The background pops the front orange tabby! Maybe adding some dark umber and brown from the dog as well as a pinch of blue (mainly in the corners)- sprinkle a little salt (closer to the center) while it's all wet to retain some of this wonderful green umber you already have in the background. This should unify the pets more and bring out the dog and tuxedo cat. The salt will also add a little texture that many of my clients love!
Just a suggestion- your doing great!

08-31-2005, 12:02 PM
I'm looking forward to your additional glazes on the background. So far, really good!

Ellen in Ont
08-31-2005, 12:21 PM
Thanks everyone for looking and commenting.
Uschi - thanks so much. I hope she does like it. She is giving it to her husband for their anniversary.
June - thanks for you comments. The gold cat was so friendly I had trouble taking her picture because she was so close. :D
Sylvia - thanks, I try and do the eyes first because I want to keep working on the painting every time I see them looking at me. :)
Hi Char - thanks so much. Long way to go yet - it is about 75% done though.
rcollege - thanks for the suggestions. As you can see below I have added a lot more glazes in the background. I think I will use the salt technique another time. I want the background to be fairly calm because there is a lot going on in the painting already.
Hi Andrea - thanks. I have now added about 5 more glazes of various browns (including sepia) and a mixed purple. I will wait until the animals are finished now to see if it needs any more adjusting.

Here is my progress so far.


08-31-2005, 12:40 PM
Its coming along very well- the background looks great and brings the animals together. Great Job so far! Can't wait to see it finished!

Strawberry Wine
08-31-2005, 08:06 PM
Ellen: this is a beauty and I know it will be received with admiration of your awesome talent.

Looking forward to the finish



09-01-2005, 06:55 AM
Looking very good, the darker corners frame the animals very nicely. the eyes are very well done. Your customer will love it.


Ellen in Ont
09-01-2005, 10:29 PM
I finished this tonight and it is in the gallery here if you would like to see it. http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3838817#post3838817

Lynn Quinn
09-01-2005, 10:59 PM
Already saw your finished painting, but it was really nice to see it in stages! Great job!