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The Stare Down

Painting Bernard:

I had the pleasure to be asked by a colleague to paint her pup who passed away. She submitted several photos but this one captivated me the most. It was truly all about that stare. That glance.

I initially started sketching to get the right composition and values. I wanted to find out where my problem areas would be so I can save the paint. It is so much easier to erase a pencil mark than it is with paint (is that contradictory?). Well, I would rather save the paint because I highly value it.

Valued Sketch planning out my composition

After the value sketch, I toned my gessoed panel with burnt sienna and mixed 4 different valued burnt numbers with white. This helped me understand if it was enough values to play with or if I needed additional. Normally, it is recommended to have either 3 to 5 values. No more, as it may make the painting too complicated and not seem realistic (i.e. over-exaggerated).

While I had my paints mixed beforehand, I was sure to mix the correct amount of OMS into each pile so that it would allow for this layer to dry. This would allow me to come right on time in a couple of hours with color. I wouldn't have to worry about it mixing into my color because the OMS would have caused the pigments to oxidize. With plenty of squinting, I laid out my values to make the composition. If the composition doesn't work in this phase, something is wrong and the color is not ready to be added.

Burnt Umber + White in 4 different values. All mixed with OMS to speed up drying time.

Now coming in with color, I continued to squint and step back throughout the painting process. Being sure to take my time. Adding only the important colors I see and trying note to adding it everywhere.

After 3 hours (4.5 hours total including sketch and tonal value), I considered it complete.

Hoping I did the stare justice because that is what I thought made the picture so captivating in the first place. RIP Bernard.


Bernard; 6 x 6 in., Oil on Panel - 4.5 hours total

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