Thursday, December 19, 2013

Remembering A Sweet, Smiling Samoyed

It tears at my heart when someone I care about loses a pet. I know how gut-wrenching the loss of a dog can be because I've been through it so many times. A beloved companion was there one day, and then he was gone, leaving a gaping hole in our lives with his passing.

To help fill that hole just a little bit for some friends of mine who recently lost their dog, Halley, I painted a portrait of their Samoyed as the robust, smiling, happy dog that I know they want to remember. Halley was a beautiful dog and wonderful companion, and I think I was able to capture his spirit in this painting.

"Halley," 9" x 12", watercolor and ink (Pigma Micron 005 black) on Saunders Waterford 140 lb cold-press paper

Another thing that is helping to fill the empty space left by Halley is this little fella...

meet Rocky!

Isn't he the cutest little fluffball? With Rocky filling their days (and nights!), it's going to be a happy Christmas after all at my friends' house.

A few notes about the painting process...
  • I drew the dog lightly in pencil onto the Saunders Waterford cold-press 140-lb. paper, then inked the drawing with a very fine 005 Pigma Micron black pen.
  • Next I wet the background with clear water, being careful to paint around the furry profile of the dog.
  • Then I painted in the background colors (wet-in-wet) and allowed them to blend. I used a small brush to further define the hairs around the edges of the dog, pulling the background color in toward the body.
  • After the background had dried completely, I began to add light shading to the dog's body. I had to be careful not to overdo it or the dog would end up looking like a gray dog rather than white. I primarily used a blue-gray color, but also incorporated some pink, yellow, and lavender to make things more interesting. At this point, I also began to put the first touches of paint on the dog's eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Next the "accessories" were painted: the scarf, the ball, and the tags. A bit of spatter in the background and a few sprigs of grass helped to define the setting and keep the dog from appearing to float in mid-air.
  • Midtones and darks were added to the eyes, nose, and mouth to define the shapes.
  • Lastly, I added that critical white highlight in each eye.
The hardest part was knowing when to stop. I tried to keep the painting looking fresh and sunny, not overworked and dull.

I'm happy with the results. It was so much fun to surprise my friend with the painting. I hope every time they look at that smile on Halley's face, it will bring back happy memories for them.

10 comments:

  1. What a lovely thing to do for your Friends. Its a lovely painting. I am sure they will treasure it forever. The new pup is adorable. It will help with the emptiness. something I dread with our Annie someday... in the far future I hope.

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    1. I hope Annie lives a good, long life, Cris. It's always hard to lose them, but I think it's much worse when it comes unexpectedly, as it did with my Tucker a few years ago. It took me months to get over the shock of losing him. Deciding to get a new puppy was what finally brought me out of the doldrums.

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  2. Your friends will surely treasure this beautiful painting of their beloved Halley, Leslie. I've been through the loss of a much loved pet before and I know how heartbroken they must be. Our pets certainly do become a very important member of the family. Mine are like my babies. I'm sure that cute, little Rocky will bring them many more years of joy and happiness.

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    1. When I met Rocky, I was sorely tempted to tuck him into my winter coat and spirit him away. He's ADORABLE!

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    2. We are glad you like him. We had the pleasure of raising him till was 8 weeks old. We think we found a wonderful home for him with people who will love and spoil him. Elsie and Monica - El-Al Samoyeds

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  3. Your friend is very lucky , to have you as her friend. What a lovely painting, and you have shown in the painting the love you also had for for Halley. I'm sure that ball of fluff will bring them lots of happiness.

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    1. Yes, I think doing these paintings for my friends also helps me to feel less sad about what they're going through. At least I feel like I'm doing something positive rather than just wringing my hands.

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  4. What a wonderful friend you are to your other 'doggy' people. We had a Samoyed many years ago, and your painting took my breath away. Thank you for sharing, and thanks so much for the mini tutorial so I can try my own version. You are very gracious to your readers!

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    1. Thanks, Shelly. I hope my little tutorial will help to get you started.

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