Well, it happened. I found some time and completed something for the Pinterest Challenge today.
In case you're new to this whole concept, it was dreamed up by Katie at Bower Power Blog and Sherry at Young House Love. They host one pretty much each season and it's always a lot of fun. This season's co-hosts are Megan at The Remodelled Life and Michelle at Decor and the Dog (whom I follow along with- she's hilarious!). The idea is to stop pinning and start doing. Tackle anything you may have pinned to your Pinterest boards. Today there is a big link up party so be sure to head to one or all of those blogs and check out the projects people have linked up. There is always tons of great projects and some really great inspiration!
On Friday, I had posted with some projects I was considering. In the end, I decided to try my hand at some artistic painting. It's been a long time since I have done some paintings on canvas. I did a lot of it in high school for art classes and a bit in college but I wasn't ever that particularly good at it. I find it relaxing though and thought it was worth a try. If the results were awful, I'd just paint over it and try again. No pressure.
I opted to paint a 6" x 6" canvas I had already hanging blank in my gallery wall. I'm trying to fill up all the frames and canvas' with art so it seemed like a good opportunity to work on that. As for what to paint? I went with an idea I had pinned from the very beginning of my Pinterest account. A portrait of our dog, a 4 year old black lab named Jixer. I was inspired by these-
Image from here.
Dog art from here.
I liked that they were simplified and loved that this would be personalized and meaningful to us. Keep in mind- I am not an artist. I documented my process so that other ordinary people would hopefully feel inspired to try their hand at painting something. The worst thing that can happen is it looks bad and then you can either keep painting until it looks right or just paint over it and try something else. It's not the end of the world if it doesn't turn out so I encourage you to try it out!
To start, I found a photo of Jixer that I took recently and I printed it off the computer at the size I wanted it to be on my canvas. I had already painted the canvas a bright turquoise colour a few months back (just so it wasn't a blank canvas on the wall while I figured out what to paint). I liked the colour so I decided to use it for the background.
Next, I could have sketched the outline onto the canvas but I decided to use an old trick and make it easier on myself- a graphite transfer. I turned my printed photo over and coloured the back of the image in with pencil. For this to work, it has to be pencil.
Then I flipped the photo back over and placed it over my canvas. Once it was where I wanted it, I started to trace the outline of her face with my pencil. The pressure of your pencil will transfer the graphite on the back of the paper onto the canvas. This is what it looks like after that step.
I kept my tracing to just the basic outline at this point. It gave me enough to start painting. To start, I filled in my darkest sections- the hard black areas of the eyes and nose.
I decided the best way to proceed from here would be to mark out the highlight areas. The easiest way for me to do this was to use the graphite transfer method to transfer a few more lines over.
Then I just started filling it in in sections. I started with her ear. I used a medium grey tone for the highlights and blacks for the dark areas. I also hit some of the highlights with white. It was definitely a little tricky since she is all one colour.
It had a few points where it didn't look very good at all! The key is to keep working at it and you can always come back and tweak certain areas. I had originally wanted to go for a more abstract look like my inspiration images but with her being all black, I knew it would only look right if I did blending and went for a more realistic look. You can see this look below clearly wasn't going to work. It reminds me of bad camo.
After some blending- I ended my first night of painting here. Another word of advice- treat it kind of like a paint by number and just break it into sections. While doing the ear, I really didn't think it looked right but it did look close to the photo so I left it and moved on. Once more of the head was done, it actually started to look correct.
I picked it up the next night and finished it in about an hour. I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. It worked out a lot better than I would have expected. I guess that's my last tip- have low expectations!
Now it's living on my gallery wall. It's great to get one more spot filled in. Jixer was close by inspecting my work of course.
It felt good to sit down and paint again. It was pretty relaxing and I'm looking forward to filling in those other canvas' now! This whole painting only took about 2 and a half hours so that is encouraging too. The smaller canvas size helped with that I think.
So tell me - did you participate in the Pinterest Challenge? Have you ever painted a canvas? Any other black lab owners out there?
ps- Follow me on Pinterest here and see some other projects I hope to tackle in the future.
pps- Check out my previous Pinterest Challenge projects - my spider web frame for Halloween for the fall edition, our personalized cake topper for the spring edition and paper scale art for the fall edition.