Dog Eyes in Watercolor

•June 14, 2016 • 2 Comments

I have been busy working on a series of water view paintings using wonderful washes which I will share here as soon as I am finished. I needed a break from my latest project so I set aside some time to paint more eyes. It was refreshing to revisit these delightful images filled with simple shapes & colors.

Without drawing, using only paint, I made the shape of the eye leaving a small white area for the reflection.

Dog Eye 101A


A second color was dropped in before the entire area dried. I allow these colors to mingle on the paper

Dog Eye 101B

When the eye area has lost its shine I drop in a darker color to create the ‘pupil’ Using the same darker color I paint around the eye slightly touching the outline allowing it to blend & soften the edge. The dog’s eye has a drooping lower lid so I left some white showing below the iris of the eye.

Dog Eye 101C

Now I start to build up some of the darks. I also add some brush strokes to add the fur around the eye. When doing this think about petting the dog’s face. Use your fingers to follow the growth direction of the fur. This is how I then place my brush strokes.

Dog Eye 101D

Using an even darker color I detail the shape of the eye and finally I darken the pupil. I find that this darkest color is essential to bring the eyes to life.

Dog Eye 101E

Here is another example of dog eyes

First I paint the eye shape using 2 colors. Using a damp clean brush, I wet the surrounding area allowing the paint to bleed away from the eye. This breaks up the hard outline of the eye making it appear softer.

Dog Eye 101F

Using a light wash I start to define the eye area, remembering to leave some white areas below the eye.

Dog Eye 101G

Now I add the darker colors using the process described above.

Dog Eye 101H

To complete the portrait I add the illusion of a nose & an ear.

Dog Eye 101I

Anyone viewing this will automatically fill in the blanks, meaning, they will know that the dog has 2 eyes, 2 ears and a big shiny nose. I do not have to give them all the parts for them to know this is a dog. I am allowed to have fun and take artistic license with my paintings. So can you!

Find a photo and have fun painting your favorite animal’s face. Remember you choose what to add or subtract from your paintings. You decide what colors you want your painting to contain. Why can’t a cat have violet eyes? Why not try painting a dog using only red in many different values. This is only the start of an amusing & entertaining journey. 


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Dogs In Watercolor – It’s all about the eyes Part 2

•June 7, 2016 • 5 Comments



Dogs A 2-2016

My set up, as I prepare to paint is simple. I enlarge the animals eyes so I can see the shape, highlights, colors & values. Each of these are essential to help me paint eyes that will bring life & give expression to the animals face. I could not work from a tiny poor quality photo. I’m mostly interested in painting animals I have been able to photograph myself. That gives me a feeling as to how that particular animal moves and behaves in its own environment or home.

Sometimes I wil trace the eyes which allows me to see thir shape clearly. I can study the contour, outline & shadow as I trace the image. To help me further, I can transfer the tracing onto paper and do several studies. Without having to draw each eye in detail I have complete freedom to experiment with my watercolor paints and discover how I want my finished eyes to look. By now I have painted dozen of eyes and I rarely draw an eye in pencil anymore, I start each eye working only with my paints.

These are a few of my recent dog practice paintings





Dogs B 2-2016


Dogs 8


When I started painting I was so intimated by the amazing animal paintings I would see. I believed I would never attempt to do any animal painting myself. But once the desire to do this took hold of me I decided to develop my our understanding & method of how I could achieve this. I broke it down into small studies using enlarged images and practiced constantly.

Now it’s your turn. What has you intrigued and what are to reluctant to paint but possess a desire to try? Study it & find a small yet important piece of the image and practice that one element until you reach a level of satisfaction. Don’t overwhelm yourself and expect to do an entire painting. Find joy is accomplishing that one small piece, like I did with the eyes.

The truth is that for me the rest of the face wasn’t quite so scary once the soulful eyes, of the dog, were looking back at me from the paper


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Dogs In Watercolor – It’s all about the eyes Part 1

•May 17, 2016 • 2 Comments

This past year I have developed a passion for painting animals. I especially love the eyes. Soulful or indifferent the eyes of our pets can convey to us how they’re feeling.  

Painting the eyes is like bringing each animal to life, whether it a cat, dog. bird or frog.

Dogs 7

I start each painting with the eyes

Dogs 6

I use my own photos. I think it’s much more interesting to know the animal I am painting. Maybe I see each animal’s personality come alive in my art.


Dogs 2

I will do many small paintings as I work my way through the process of understanding the colors, shapes & values needed to achieve what I feel is a successful portrait.

Dogs 1

Not every one comes out to my satisfaction, like the last painting (below). I feel the eyes have great contrast but they are too round and lack shadow from the upper eyelid.  The overall shape of the head is wrong too. I wanted to share both my successful and not too successful practice paintings with you.

Dogs 4

You must have a subject that brings excitement to you. I find myself thinking about what I’m going to paint & what colors I want to use as I drive to the studio. I am constantly taking photos of my family’s pets. All it takes is one expressive face and I’m overwhelmed with desire to capture that face with my watercolor paints.


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Watercolor With The Non-Dominant Hand

•April 25, 2016 • 5 Comments

I belong to several Art Associations and I receive numerous ‘call for artists’ each month giving me opportunity to show my art in a variety of venues. One of my favorite associations is the East End Arts in Riverhead NY. They recently asked for submissions to a show titled ‘ART OF THE NON-DOMINANT HAND’   I am right-handed therefore I had to create a painting done entirely with my left hand. My first reaction to this theme was ‘why, that’s crazy!’ But, after talking to some of the artists who were submitting art to this show and listening to their favorable experiences I thought I would give it a try.

I set up my desk by switching my palette, brushes & water containers to my left, instead their usual place which is on my right. I planned to paint a subject I was comfortable with so I did a colorful wash to get me started. While the wash was wet I laid a few pieces of clear wrap, like Saran Wrap, on the paper. I used my fingers to scrunch & slightly twist the wrap into a several shapes. Then I let the paint dry before removing the wrap. It left very interesting marks on the paper.

Next I started to paint on the left side of the paper where I saw a usable image that I felt would be perfect for a flower. Using my love of negative painting I painted around the floral shape creating a flower.

You can see, in the picture below, the start of my painting. I have not touched the interior of the flower, I have only painted around the flower and on the lower left where you can see the negative painted stems or shapes.


LEFT IN THE GARDEN1_____________________________________________________________________

I continued painting only the negative space outside the floral shape on the right and in between the two flowers. Look at how important the small green shapes between the flowers are. They create the stem and petals or leaves.When I paint I want you to decide what things you see within my paintings so I allow you the viewer to see what ever you want to see. I am never offended when someone says they love the leaves when I was really trying to convey petals. It is most important that you like my paintings and I don’t worry about what objects you are seeing.


LEFT IN THE GARDEN2_____________________________________________________________________

Painting the delightful shapes within each flower, which were created by the application of clear plastic wrap, I add detail by darkening and adding layers of color to that area. Using washes of greens & pinks I complete the upper right side of the painting.

All of this was done with my left hand 

It was not as hard or frustrating as I thought it would be, yet there were some challenges. I had to constantly think about which way to position the paper so I could see the tip or point of my brush. I hadn’t thought the direction of the brush would change so much that the position of the paper needed to change also. My biggest surprise was that something so simple & easy like washing my brushes during the painting process would become so difficult that I was splashing water everywhere each time I dipped the brushes in the water containers. I needed to keep plenty of paper towels on hand for the extra puddles of water I was creating. 




I decide, when the painting was completed, to sign my art using my left hand. I usually sign using watercolor paint but for this project I thought pencil would be much easier to handle. I am very happy with this painting titled “Left in the Garden”

I would highly recommend trying this process and seeing what your results would be. You do not have to enter it into a show like I did but if you like the results please share it with me, I’d like to post your paintings here so contact me if you would be willing to share.


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More Frogs in Watercolor

•March 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Although my life has been busy I still find time to paint, even if its small studies of things I like.  Doing these 5×7 paintings allows me to wet my brushes, enjoy the color of the pigments and explore the unknown by challenging myself to capture the likeness of a frog.

This little guy was a black & white drawing that was given out in a workshop many years ago and stored in one of my folders. I would never throw out a reference paper. He was fun to paint and by using cool blue tones he has a whimsical feel. But he is still painted too realistic for my liking.

FROGS 3-16

This next guy was painted in a more loose style. I left him half undone and added salt to form the spots on his body. While the foot was still wet I blew out the paint which created an abstract form for the foot. I liked that effect so I will continue by painting another frog and see how far I can push the shapes yet still allow you to see a frog.

FROGS1_ 3-16

You do not need a lot of time or supplies to fit a little painting into your day. By keeping a small bag filled with only the absolute essentials I can take a few minutes and see what develops on my paper. Have fun!

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Painting Frogs in Watercolor

•February 16, 2016 • 4 Comments

Today, while painting with a group of artists, someone asked me if animals are what I paint because I was working on a series of frogs. I found this question quite amusing because painting animals is something I have been struggling with.  I had a full page handout of a variety of frogs that I decided would be my newest challenge.

My first frog was a little misshaped but I like the way I captured the eye. If you have read any of my previous posts on painting animal eyes you have heard me say that if I create an eye that has life in it then I feel I’ve been successful.



This next fella has a great eye but the rest of him need more color & contrast.

Frogs2This guy is my favorite. Good eyes & a decent body shape



In this enlargement you can see the eye and facial colors.


I know I’m not done exploring the many ways I can paint a frog, these were just the beginning or early stages in my series of painting frogs. Don’t be afraid to use whatever colors you want. Color is not important, shapes and values are. I do not draw any pencil lines on the paper I do all my ‘drawing’ with my paintbrush. I found that when I draw the animal I get frustrated if it doesn’t come out exactly right and then I’m trying to correct it with my painting. Working without a drawing gives me total freedom with my brush & paints.

Find an animal that interests you and start painting


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Negative Painting & The Use of Clear Plastic Wrap

•January 26, 2016 • 4 Comments

Although I love to read I would become bored if I had to read the same book over & over again no matter how much I loved the book. That is how I feel about painting. I love using my colors & brushes to make interesting images but I am constantly tweaking how I accomplish the final results. After seeing Jean Haines using ‘cling wrap’ or ‘saran wrap’ to create interesting marks on watercolor paper I thought I would find my own use for it in my painting process.


Negative Trees with saran wrap1_________________________________________________________

I applied a colorful wash and while the paper was still wet I stretched the plastic wrap as I laid it on the lower half of my paper. I crumpled the plastic wrap as I laid it on the top half of my paper. I had tree shapes in mind as I did this trying to make long vertical marks below & scrunched up marks on top. When dry, I gently removed the plastic wrap.


Negative Trees with saran wrap2


The plastic wrap left exactly the imprints I wanted. On the left I started negative painting a tree shape using a slightly darker pink color.


Negative Trees with saran wrap3


The first wash is completed and you can see the outline of the 3 trees and their many branches.


Negative Trees with saran wrap4


In this 4th photo I have half of the second layer of trees completed using a purple color I negative pained around the tree shapes.


Negative Trees with saran wrap5 copy


I use a darker wash to define the final layer of trees & branches.

The painting is complete and I enjoyed the interesting & organic marks left on the paper from the plastic wrap. Using these marks allowed me to direct the tree trunks & branches in unique directions creating engaging & intriguing forms.

This small (6″x9″) painting exudes energy & I will now see what I can achieve on a much larger sheet of watercolor paper.


Even if you love what you are painting, try something different and see how it changes how you paint. Even the smallest change could lead you into a new direction of painting. Have fun!


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