From Drawing to Painting!



Painting  was not in my thoughts when I decided to learn how to draw dogs.  Drawing just sounded like something I should try and maybe I might enjoy as a hobby.  After all, I do love animals, especially dogs!  So I got my start in drawing from the Drawing Dogs Course on Paint Basket and as you can see here, some time later I was able to do a painting of Pixie, my older daughter’s Yorkshire terrier.  I decided on a seascape background because in my reference photo Pixie was sitting on sand, with nothing else interesting to speak of (so I thought).  In retrospect, I think I could have done just a simple portrait.  But at the time I knew nothing about pet portraiture until I painted Hoku, my youngest daughter’s Havanese pup who was cute as a button, and now is a handsome adult dog!  The other painting is Malu, my son’s dog, in the park where I last played with her before she passed away.  This was a memorial portrait given to my son.

Back to learning how to draw:  Watching and following the video instruction with Nolan Clark of Paint Basket  proved to be a ‘magical time’ for me.  Imagine from Hawaii I was learning art live produced in New Zealand!  I learned how to use different  graphite pencils and a putty eraser to sculpt a dog on paper, actually a number of dogs,  one eye at a time, one nostril at a time, laying out the fur and whiskers going the right way, giving the dog character and bringing him to life.  

I was bowled over with my first drawing and those that followed, and with my growing confidence, I eventually drew all of the family dogs and more.  Everyone who took the class the same time with me posted their work and we were all elated with our results; some drew their pets, too!  In the following months, the class members were painting their friends’ dogs and some at this date do dog portraits for a commission!

The wonderful part about the time I spent in drawing dogs is that I learned how the same art principles are carried over to other art mediums, such as pen and ink, water color, water color pencils, and pastels, etc.  Drawing establishes a good background for working with other mediums.  Its importance is in training a person to see as an artist, to observe carefully in composing a drawing or painting.  

A drawing in pencil is similar to a black and white or monochromatic painting, or a tonal drawing that can provide the basis for painting in color, e.g. in acrylic and oil paint, my favorite mediums.  Whether drawing or painting, these general concepts and skills are used:  attention to shape, form, intensity and saturation;  value gradation, directional strokes, contrasts in light and dark for blocking in and for highlights, accents, and depicting texture, as well as perspective.  In addition,  in drawing one learns how to develop a foreground, middle ground and background or other effects, such as foreshortening as in the painting of Malu, my son’s dog.

I highly recommend  having a background in drawing fundamentals because it is very likely to make a difference between good art and better art.   

In my next post I will tell you more about how my drawing skills continued to develop after I finished the dog drawing class.  See you then!