Mack the Yellow Lab–Beginning to Paint


This is my first layer of paint on Mack’s portrait. My goal is to lay in the paint loosely with largish brushes, especially since this is quite a large painting for me (18″ x 24″). For all that his fur is warm yellowy tones–I’m using a brick red in the shadow areas, and a slate blue on the side facing the light. When the painting’s done, these colors won’t be anywhere near as obvious as they are now, but I always like this stage where nothing is really subtle or blended. It’s a very expressive stage and you can see the artist’s hand in the brushstrokes.

I have a fondness for artists (like Sargent) who are able to both capture a realistic feeling in a painting, and yet you can still see when you look closely a brushstroke that’s still a brushstroke. When you look at one of Sargent’s portraits–the fabrics feel lush and so real you can almost touch them–yet if you look again at that subtle gleam in the satin, it is quite clearly a solid slash of pure white paint. Magic.