The painting of many changes
This work, a commission, has gone through several transitions as I worked. It's been fun to see if I can make necessary changes without totally ruining the painting! I am fussier than I used to be, and "good enough" doesn't work so well for me any more. As my art progresses over the years, my ability has improved with practice, and my standards grow ever higher.
The biggest challenge in this picture was the unusual pose of the schnauzer, Buttons. This is not a traditional head study, and it would be very easy to to make him look totally out of whack.
Every painting has to sit for a day or two before I consider it finished. I go back in with fresh eyes and see problems I had totally missed before. The real test of time is to go back several months later and decide if I'm still happy with it.
This painting was completely finished and I went back in and changed some major things. I took out a lot of the pansies in the background. My eye was drawn to the background instead of the main subject, the dog. I also thought they looked amateurish, like cut-out paper dolls. I can do better than that!
I added garden gloves under the shovel, which in the initial underpainting was floating instead of being propped up on something. Didn't work. I didn't want anyone spending a lot of time looking at the gloves, so I added tall grass in the foreground, a device I use a lot because I like the sense of depth it gives the painting. Like you are in the scene. The "grass" also echoes the society garlic in the background.
I also added some drama to the pansies around Buttons -- looking through my reference photos I found some wonderful burgundy and yellow pansies, so I changed some of the yellow ones to that color combo, and like it much better.
To see a larger version of the final painting, visit my web site.