Toes Downside Up

This is painting #14 of my 14 x 28 Furry Friends of February challenge. I made it! I completed 14 paintings in February. “Toes Down-side Up” is an 11”x 7.5” watercolor painting on 140 pounds Arches cold press paper. You can see a larger view in a new browser tab by clicking on the image.

I painted wet-into-wet using just five primary colors by Daniel Smith; Pyrrol Red, Manganese Blue, Cobalt Blue, New Gamboge, and Raw Sienna Light. I started out wanting to use Quinacridone Coral but accidentally grabbed Pyrrol Red out of common habit.

I took my time getting the drawing done. At first, I wasn’t going to depict a background, but then I decided it was an interesting element for the overall subject. The pup looked so forlorn, wanting to go out and play. What really attracted me to the photographic reference was how his back paws were facing up. It looks like he’s a little bit deformed, but in fact, it was a common pose for this particular fellow.

After saturating the paper completely front and back, I out all of the colors into separate mixing areas of my palette. This keeps me from drawing paint directly from the wells. I find if I mix it up out into the mixing area, I can tell how strong the paint is. If I draw paint directly from the palette wells then I don’t know how strong or weak the pigment is on my brush. This is one of the most complex things to learn as a watercolor artist, adjusting the pigment strength correctly. Since I had the paper really wet, I mixed up my pigment stronger than I normally would when starting a painting.

I began by painting the background outside the window with Manganese and Gamboge to hint at the foliage. I had previously masked off some random whites in that area to give the effect of highlights on the leaves. I then mixed up a good light gray tone using some of the Manganese with a little bit of Pyrrol and Gamboge. I had also masked off the strong white vertical (sliding door edge). With the masked areas, I could be freer when painting. I had also masked off a few hair highlights on the dog.

I started painting the dog with some of the gray tones in the core shadow and then moving into the sort of brownish tannish orange spots on the dog. For the brown hair, I used mostly raw Sienna with a little Pyrrol and Gamboge.

I painted the first layer using paint that was about a medium strength pigment (between say coffee- and milk-strength). The paper had started to dry before I reached the bottom part of the dog so I was able to hold an edge around the toes.

For the area rug, I first painted in squiggles of blue, then red, leaving white areas untouched. The paper was dry enough that the edges held. I then loaded some pretty strong Raw Sienna on the brush and painted over the white areas. I thought it looked just like an Oriental rug.  What do you think?

After putting down the first layer of color, I went back in to pull out the darker values for the eyes, nose, and ears. I used a really strong mix (creamy-strength) of the Cobalt Blue, Pyrrol Red and Raw Sienna Light for my dark, skewing to one color or the other, depending on the feature.

I have video clips of the process. I will have to check the clips, but I believe this took me about an hour to paint, after about 15 minutes of drawing. A fun little painting it was. Thanks, Cassie for being such a fun little model. I’m told by her one-time Momma, she is a Maltese and Jack Russell Terrier mix.

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