View Full Version : Zara in gouache

04-20-2007, 07:46 PM
I've been teaching myself to paint, and I ended up with gouache mainly due to health limitations. I have low stamina, so I work slow (I'm amazed at those of you out there that knock off a painting in an evening). Also, I work lying on my side with the painting vertical (which is why watercolor doesn't work too well). But I find I really love the gouache, the colors and layers you can get. There's not that much info out there so when I found this subject on Wet Canvas, I was thrilled. I've read almost all the posts, so now I'm finally showing one of my own--my first post. Whew!

This is the most recent painting of Zara my dog, who obviously inspires me. I start out with a drippy watercolor wash, and I kept the trees loose and vague since they are in the distant. Zara's pose is from a photo which was kindof blurry so I did my best but I think the face has a bit of a cubist quality. I want to get some photos without the flash so the lighting would be more natural. I welcome feedback as I am wanting to learn but remember I'm a newbie!

Fowl Play
12 1/2 by 9 1/2


Old Tex
04-20-2007, 11:41 PM
Hey Seleeni, Welcome! We all had a first post, and I'll tell you, mine was pretty bad, so don't hesitate. And the last two I posted have taken me several evenings, so they don't all get knocked out in one evening. We're all learning from each other here, so I'm glad you found us!

Your painting of Zara is great! Nice job on the face, and the coat on the back is VERY well done. The only suggestion I would make has to do with perspective. Don't know if you added the trees, or if they were in the photo, but keep in mind, photos can be deceiving sometimes. The base of the tree on our left appears to almost be in line with Zara's back feet. Next time you do one at this low angle, consider putting the trees almost on the horizon line. (And to show I'm no expert, see Meg's comment about my second painting in my "Creeks" post. She's right about my perspective being off!) You learn with every painting... and I've finally realized that I'll never stop learning. Welcome aboard!

04-21-2007, 02:08 PM

Welcome to WC, and great job! It's amazing that you were able to do it while lying on your side! I'm sure painting that way takes a lot of dedication and perseverance.

Zara is adorable! I laughed out loud when I saw your painting. You've done a perfect job catching that mischeivous dog personality. I like the title, too. Great job rendering the fur and the face, and the colors on the toys are beautitul.

You did a good job toning down the wash-out effects of the flash. The trees are well done and match the lighting, however, I agree with Ralph about the perspective. To see the dog from that view, our "line of sight" would be much closer to the top of the painting, which is where the horizon should go.

Despite that, it's a great painting. The colors mesh well together and it has a ton of personality! Can't wait to see more of your work! Also, if you want more feedback, post this in the Animal & Wildlife forum. They always have a lot to say, and I'm sure they'll love this.


04-21-2007, 04:05 PM
Thanks so much for the feedback Meg and Ralph. Now I see what you mean about the perspective and the tree. Already learning. This was the first painting I tried adding in more elements, and I was thinking more about composition rather than about perspective.

Here's another one. The bright orange underpainting glows through her coat, an effect of gouache I really like. One question I have: how do you get a warm white? I notice the zinc white seems to cool the colors added to it.

Zara Standing
8 1/4 by 11 1/4

Old Tex
04-22-2007, 09:48 AM
Wow! Very nice! This is a really great job. I keep waiting for Zara to bark!

I'm still learning how to mix colors myself, so I'm not much help with your white question. Maybe Meg or someone else can give you a good answer.

04-22-2007, 01:14 PM
Amazing work considering the limitations you have to work with. Keep at it. I certainly could not paint a dog with that level of competence.

04-22-2007, 04:21 PM
Thanks Ralph and Sonia. It's neat to get feedback from artists whose work I've looked at and admired (Meg, too). I'm really in an experimental stage right now but hoping to develop my own style over time. If my energy gets better, I've thought about focusing on pet portraits as a way to earn a bit. So let me know what you think!

I have two more. Here's a fun one from a lucky photo. I didn't know what to do with the space left of Zara. Then the drips came to me and seems to give it more movement.

Zara and Sally Charging
8 by 11

04-23-2007, 07:02 AM
Oh this is just too cute!! Great job!! Welcome to WeCanvas.... Azure

04-23-2007, 08:17 AM
About mixing a warm white - I haven't tried yet. The two tube whites I have are very cool and bluish. It's an excellent question and I'm going to go see what I can discover (off to consult the almightly internets).

That third painting is great! I love the look on her face. You do eyes so well! And the drips certainly do add movement. It's a very dynamic piece. And the perspective on the second one is perfect. :D


04-25-2007, 10:00 PM
You have captured the character of this charming dog. I can see you love him. You already have a good take on painting fur.

04-26-2007, 08:49 AM
The only info I could find on mixing warm whites was related to oil paint. However, it seems the "cold tube white" problem applies to a lot of paints. The suggestion was to mix a tiny bit of warm yellow into the tube white. Makes sense!

04-28-2007, 09:25 PM
Thanks for your comments! And interesting that the cool white phenomenon is a problem with other types of paint too. I thought maybe I just hadn't bought the right tube of white.

Here is one more of Zara--the first where I tried using some gouache though it still has a transparent look with the watercolor. If you compare this to the first one I posted, you can see I'm getting more bold with the opaque approach.

Zara Closeup
8 1/2 by 13"

04-30-2007, 08:09 AM
Cool! You do well with both techniques. I like her face - so adorable. And the reflection on the floor is very well done. I think the transparent application works really well with that feature.