View Full Version : Round-headed dog

07-01-2007, 02:02 PM
Hi there.

This piece is all experiment for my upcoming dog portrait. I wasn't going for a likeness but got very tempted to trash it anyway. Trying out: color, brushwork. Foreground, background. White fur is new and presented a real challenge to get volume. Does the blue shadow/reflected light work? Is it too blotchy in any of the areas?

Would love feedback!
Thanks, Selene

Round-headed dog
gouache, 6 1/2 x 7 1/2


07-02-2007, 08:45 AM

First of all, I love that you are doing experiments for finished paintings! I have only ever done prep in pencil or ink, and I am learning a lot from you.

I think the brushwork and colors are good. For foreground/background, the two are nice and distinct. However, the line between them on the left is really stark (probably a feature of the sketchiness of the piece) and it draws the eye and makes the foreground look sort of cut out. The background colors are nice, but I'd recommend blending the dark and light a bit more. Also, watch the division between light and dark - there are a couple areas of visual tension (around the dog's left ear, the dark area near the fluffy part of the right cheek). The foreground colors are nice too, but the pattern is a bit distracting. Maybe you could use those lines to your compositional advantage to lead the eye towards the dog?

I don't think it's too blotchy at all. The blue shadows on the white work very well, especially with the blue background - in fact, I think you could push them even further. You might experiment with blue shadowing in the brown fur, too. I love the yellow-brown on the tongue. Your use of colors is really going to make this piece cohesive! I can't wait to see how it develops!


07-04-2007, 03:45 PM
Hi Meg,

Isn't that odd, I responded yesterday but my reply was not posted, so I'll try here again. Thanks so much for your feedback. I love having a second pair of eyes see what I don't, or help me figure out composition. This dog commission is definately a work in progress as the friend wants a different pose without the tongue hanging out. I don't mind, I'm learning from all of it.

You have such a good eye. I looked on your website to see what kind of art training you've had only to find out that you're an engineer! A woman of many talents. I am curious as to what your education is with the art. And how interesting that you still use film for photography. I don't see that much anymore.


07-04-2007, 06:08 PM
Selene, thanks for the "good eye" remark! I know I have gotten some of my best feedback from non-artists, but even so, I feel a bit awkward when making suggestions for other people. After I get through a convention this weekend, I hope to post more WIPs so y'all can do the same for me.

I had a few art classes back in high school and have taken 3 or 4 community classes at art museums. I also go to a live figure drawing session once in a while. And I've learned a ton online, especially from this site!

With all your prep work, this commission is going to be a knockout!


Old Tex
07-05-2007, 06:02 PM
I agree that Meg has a good eye. Much better than mine, I'm afraid. I agree about the foreground pattern. Keep it simple. The painting is about the dog, so you don't want anything distracting from that. We've seen you paint fur, so have total confidence in your ability on this one.

07-05-2007, 08:28 PM
Thanks Ralph for the vote of confidence. I have just barely studied composition, but I do look constantly at portaits, people and animals, to see how it is handled.


maggie latham
07-06-2007, 06:30 AM
I Love the little fellow! I actually don’t mind the pattern in the foreground. Textures and patterns in dominant areas of your paintings are I believe becoming your ‘style’. If the Background blue was a little more solid or darker, the pattern wouldn’t conflict so much in the foreground. I have no experience in pet painting, except some watercolor sketches of my own cats….so can’t comment further. I must say this though; you are an inspiration to the rest of us!
Do you have access and time at a computer? If so you could play with your scanned image of your dog (or any painting) in a photo editing program such as Photoshop (the abbreviated cheap version of Elements would do) and see how it would look with a dark sold background etc. There seems to be a trend these days for artists to tweak their compositions on the computer before painting or repainting. Photoshop is a good tool to help learn about how value effects composition. I won’t ramble on, in case you don’t have access to a computer. I am no expert, and Photoshop is a complicated program, but if you would like more info I can probably give you some tips in Photoshop.

07-08-2007, 08:36 PM
Hi Maggie, Thanks for your input. I have Jasc Paint Shop Pro but I've never tried actually tweaking a painting on it. It certainly would be less risky than experimenting on the actual work! I think the commands are similar to Photoshop so if there are certain ways to adjust it, I'd love to hear what you do.

You mentioned the textures I put in pieces. It's probably related to years of doing fiberarts. Baskets and rugs out of fabrics, dolls, and "fabric paintings" and collages. I had to change my medium for a number of reasons, (space and health being two) but also, I couldn't get the subtley of color and design I wanted. Painting is the next step. Going into a 2 dimensional world of illusion is so totally different than making objects. It's like starting over with lots to learn.

So I did play with Round-headed dog some more with real paint, taking Ralph's and Meg's suggestions. Might as well post it:


07-08-2007, 10:27 PM
Have you tried painting the dog looking slightly to one side. ? I ask this because a frontal posture has given the subject more of a foxy look and it seems rather flat. He seems to be smiling with a spoon-shaped tongue and his chest falls directly onto the foreground where there is a dip. I agree that the foregrond does distruct the viewer from the subject in question.
Maybe another angle would rectify the problem.
Having said all this...I do hope that you do not think me to critical...it is a matter of personal opinion.
Kind regards,

07-12-2007, 09:26 PM
I appreciate your feedback Eggy. This wasn't the greatest pose to work from, but I had to play with it to figure that out. But I have seen lots of straight on poses that work so I'll have to figure out why.


07-26-2007, 01:25 PM
Seleeni, this is really good!!! I like your dog! (second to my little fellow, that is! LOL)