Mollie is a Belgian Sheepdog and one of the most beautiful creatures I've ever seen. The painting was to be a surprise for Mollie's owner, and she was surprised when she saw this along with the portrait of Mollie's head.

It's so much fun to try to capture the personality of any animal, and especially one that's so animated and lively like Mollie. Since she's got a shiny black coat, I knew I'd be using lots of color to make that rich black be luminous. And, I also knew I would not use black paint.

To mix dark colors, check your palette wells. If the paint looks dark in the well, it'll work as one of the paints to mix for making black. I think the key is to let the paints 'mix themselves' on the paper, rather than mixing up a big puddle of darks in the palette.

Make separate puddles with lots of water, but add enough pigment to get each puddle really dark in value. Then add a brushful of color in part of the area to be black. Don't rinse your brush unless you remove the excess water in it. That extra water will dilute the next puddle, making it too light. Now add another color- get a juicy amount in your brush - and let the two colors charge together on their own. Touch in a third or fourth color but avoid stirring up the paint on the paper.

Keep your brush out of the way as much as possible and let the excess moisture of the paint do the mixing. Use your brush to control and create soft and hard edges as needed.

If the colors aren't mixing on their own, use more moisture from the puddles. Make it do what watercolor does so well - flow. Let the colors slowly move on their own with just a little help from your brush. Just a little. Sometimes artists stroke the brush over and over and over in an area, annihilating the fresh look of watercolor.

Mollie's coat had a lot of texture in some of the fur, and other parts of her coat were sleek. In the textured parts, I used granulating pigments like lunar earth or lunar blue to help suggest the texture of her coat. For the sleeker areas, I used phthalos and quinacridones, which have no granulation at all.

I do love painting animals and am so glad I got to paint Mollie.

"MICHIGAN MOLLIE" Transparent Watercolor on 140#CP Fabriano Artistico, 18 x 24" COLLECTED (Smaller portrait to the right is also on Fabriano.)


Vicki Greene said...

Mollie is beautiful! Thanks for your hints on painting fur/dark colors.

Dawn said...

thanks so much Sandy, and Mollie's mom should be estatic!

Julie said...

Mollie's mom is estatic! Not only was it a total suprise for me but the quality of these works of art are more than I could have dreamed of! Sandy-your vision of Mollie was perfect and I'm just in awe. You captured her spirit and personality exquisitly and I know that's my dog, not just anybodies belgian. I couldn't be more thrilled and wanted to thank you so much. You are awesome!!!!!

Sandy Maudlin said...

Thanks, Vicki and Dawn. Julie, thank you for stopping by. I'm so glad I got to paint Mollie.

Sandy said...

This is sooooo beautiful!