A Blog About Oil Painting

Portrait of Oban

/ / Animal Dog Painting Portrait

Portrait of a black lab by Simon Bland

Oban. 12x12, oil on linen panel. 2016.

Here's a portrait that I'm putting the finishing touches to. This was done from the customer's own photographs.

As you probably can tell, black dogs are really challenging to paint. I like to compare it to playing the piano with just your left hand: it's difficult to create tonal and color contrasts when you're working in such a limited value range.

There are a couple of things that seem to help. First, I raise the gamut of the values slightly from the reference photograph - that way the darkest darks aren't an absolute black. Second, I try to increase color contrasts in the mid-tone lights (the blues and reds you can see in the portrait).

The colors are not used randomly - they are actually conveying information to the viewer about the orientation of the different planes of the face.