Portrait of Elvis the Dalmatian

Elvis. 20x16, oil on linen. 2015.

About two weeks ago I thought I was nearly finished with this painting (after a couple of earlier re-starts) when I realized that the overall color scheme wasn't working. I went back and redesigned the whole thing over again. 

The figure turned out to be mostly salvageable but the background and edges needed a complete re-work. While I learned a lot during the process, I wish I had spent more time fleshing out the design before starting - a complex painting like this needs about a day's worth of design.

As the painting progressed I started breaking up the form and adding more abstraction, but each time I tried I ended up dialing it back to a more sane level. In the end I settled on a compromise that let me take a few edges to the limit, but kept the rest under control.

One of the things that kept me in check was the black spots. They have to be handled with a lot of care because there's such a big difference in value across the edge of each one, even those in shadow. If you try to paint loosely around them, before you know it the paint is a muddy mess and there are about 125 spots visible in the painting - that's a lot of opportunities to go wrong.

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