Shih Tzu Portrait Underpainting


This is my first pass at laying down paint on Molly’s portrait. When I start an acrylic painting, I start by working with the paint thinned down with water to the point where it might almost be watercolor. My goal is to stay loose, but to capture enough of the basic forms so that the darks and lights create a sense of volume.

I also do this by laying in washes of color. In this painting I used a soft blue to “cool down” some of the shadow areas so they would seem to recede. In contrast, the brightest areas get a slightly golden highlight tone.

My brushstrokes follow the direction of the fur growth…even at this rough stage. That’s going to help later on when I get further into the details.

In the original photo, the furry fringe around the nose was partially obscuring one of molly’s eyes. I reshaped it so that we could see both her eyes evenly, better balancing the painting.