Sunny Hope Dreaming

Acrylic on wood panel, 8"x8" (20cm x 20cm)

My latest painting of my pup is done! I have to paint cutesy conservative stuff like this if I want a chance to get into the local gallery exhibition next year, so that's pretty much how this started, but I also just love my dog so why not!

The Process

1. Reference Image

Overall, I really like this photo of Hopey. It's very cute, and he's enjoying his nap in the sun, which is so bright it washes out most of the speckles on his fur. The background, however, is incredibly boring. This is why I decided to break from my normal style and create a new background for him, that would be abstract and represent dreams.

2. Support Medium and Sketch

I decided to work on wood panel again, and I think I'm actually coming to prefer this over canvas, even though price and size limitations aren't the best... But what's really good about these panels is the smooth solid surface makes them really easy to draw on and to erase lines if needed. So, knowing that I was going to change the background, I just did a quick drawing laying out Hope's position and some of the areas for different colours on him. I was actually surprised how easy it was, I still feel quite insecure about my drawing ability, so I was very happy when it actually came out looking like him! Though I must say, his face had a very Disney deer-like appearance! XD

3. Background

Sometimes I'm naughty and don't really paint "properly", but I figured I should probably do the "right" thing and sort out my background first. It was easier for me to do it this time, because I knew I wouldn't really need to touch up the background seeing as it would be abstract. I started off mixing pastel blue, green, and pink, and did two coatings around my Hope sketch. But that looked pretty boring on its own, so I added the lines around him, which also helped with the dream vibe. After this picture was taken, I also added some lines in silver paint, which also gave it something extra.

4. Painting Hope

This was the hardest part for me, because I found it very tricky to get the right sorts of colours. In hindsight, maybe the neutral greys could have had more yellow to really match the reference image and give more of a sunlight vibe. I'm not sure. But hey, something to try next time maybe, because I knew if I was too much of a perfectionist, I would never get this done. It's also true that the gallery will never know what my reference was, nor will they really know what I was trying to achieve with such a vague-sounding title! (They probably won't realise "Hope" is my dog's name, and may think I'm trying to make some kinda artsy statement haha!)

Anyway, so I just did my best to approximate, which is even trickier considering I'm still using student grade paints that darken a fair bit when they dry. But I did manage to get more of the hang of "glazing" with slightly thinned out paint! That's how I was able to make it not so dark - I went over the dark areas with white, and the white dried slightly transparent instead of being too over the top. I kept adding layers of white like this, until gradually the painting reached a look I was happy with. The bonus of this was that doing it in small strokes also helped give a better impression of the fur in shadow! That was pretty exciting to me!

5. Done! (AKA - Controlling My Perfectionism)

Sometimes you just need to take a step back to see that your work is actually finished. I was getting so bogged down in the detail and the imperfections that it took a real effort for me to just stop and realise it looked plenty good. I also had to remember that it's okay for a painting to be different from the photo - if I wanted it to be photo perfect, I should just print the photo out! You can definitely have creative license with painting and call those imperfections "changes" or even "improvements" haha, and I mean, I already completely changed the background, so I should just calm down about the main subject. And eventually, that's what I did, and I was finally able to put the paint brush down... ^_^


Click here to see video showing the effect of the silver paint. After that, I talk about the painting, covering similar aspects as mentioned in this post, but also going on my usual tangents lol.

So there you go, that's "Sunny Hope Dreaming" and how I went about it! Thanks so much for checking it out and supporting my work! A hi-res scan will be coming up in my end-of-month goodies for patrons in the next day or so. Love you guys! x

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