Saturday, April 7, 2018

Adventurous Dogs


Watercolour by Eileen Gidman - SOLD
'The Sheriff and the Bandit'

A small portion of the final painting.

2018 has me starting on a new series about dogs and their lives with their humans.  Animals enrich our lives in so many ways. Through my paintings I want to honor that bond.

These dogs are living a life many of us dream of. I thought this photo was a perfect depiction of the adventurous life they lead. And by they, I mean the dogs and their owners!

Transferring Photo to Watercolour Paper

I understand now there are even computer programs that take a photo and create a sketch for you. The following way has always worked for me and allows me flexibility in the placement of the elements. To transfer a photo to your watercolour paper the old fashioned way, you can draw it on the same size sheet of paper as your watercolour paper and transfer it on using an artist carbon paper. This is better than drawing directly on the watercolour paper as any erase marks can affect the way the paint lies on the paper. To assist myself regarding the placement of the dogs and person in the boat, I have folded the paper to get a grid of 8 both ways. Note I only made the smallest grid throughout the center of interest. The other elements can then easily be placed. 

Always check the size of the watercolour paper you are using against the photo size. Otherwise if you draw what is in the grid of the photo onto the paper and they are not proportionally the same, your drawing will be wonky. For this painting, I added additional sky. When working your sketch be sure you are happy with the composition before transferring the outline to the watercolour paper. For me, I don't want my paintings to be a copy of a photo but rather an artist expression of what I see in life or from a photo.


Raw sienna is the natural golden colour of the environment and I felt a must for this painting. The Quinacridone Gold I keep in my palette will just not do for this painting. As for a colour scheme for this painting, I decided on an harmonious colour scheme from yellow green on the colour wheel to primary blue. The neutral greys and browns would have variations within that range of the colour wheel. 

The Studio

Here is the studio set up. The computer screen is set up with various edited versions of the working photo. Lightened in some areas, darkened or decreased clarity in others etc. For my studio I often work in silence but I also enjoy a little gentle music. Today it was Calgary's County Station. Almost always there is a 'cuppa' that is kept well away from the rinse water! Note the bottle of masking fluid. Hint: be careful about getting too much water in your brush when using misket. I find that between dips, if water gets mixed with the masking fluid, it adheres to the paper harder and is more difficult to remove later. Just ask me if I have any finger prints left! 

Working the Painting

Masking was applied with a small brush and a toothpick everywhere I wanted to save the whites. That way the sky and background colour can be laid down with a consistent brush stroke. Remember too much dabbing results in the loss of luminosity with watercolour painting.

You can see on the left where the trees are, I painted around the bottoms of the trees leaving them white to match up with the masked areas. I included some cerulean blue and burnt sienna in the water in case I needed to lift off some paint later. These are granulating pigments and have that quality to them. 

I like to work a little bit all over the painting, laying down the lighter colours and sometimes the second layer too, ie the jacket and the dogs.

Below are the completed four corners. I don't want to show the painting in it's entirety until the owners have received it.

 A couple more details of the painting.


The older dog admires the scenery? Smells for fish? The younger one has eyes only for the photographer following in the other boat.  Being so young, I think he has many lessons to learn from his more experienced and what I am told, very tolerant dog mentor. I'll be sure to post the completed painting soon.


Win Dinn, Artist said...

What a marvellous start to what is sure to be an outstanding painting, Eileen...I love the story this picture tells! I look forward to seeing the finished painting; it's sure to be a knockout.

Mellowood Gallery said...

A fabulous look at your process, Eileen. The grid technique is always a winner and I always use my home made transfer sheets to protect my paper. Thanks for sharing I am sure this painting will be super when it is done.