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Showing posts from April, 2007
ARTIST'S NOTE Sept 25th, 2007: This painting has been framed in a beautiful hand painted molding, dense with the same golden tones as the highlights of the piece. It was hung as part of the Starkweather Gallery's 2007 Member's Exhibition, where it was well received. It also was juried into the 2007 Southwestern Michigan Portrait Exhibition, where my body of work (including 2 other dog-a-day entries) earned third place. Horses have always been a favorite of mine. Always. Equine doodles graced my earliest spelling tests, pages torn out from glossy magazines papered my childhood bedroom, and in the studio I am always surrounded by dozens of canvases sporting painted horses. And Derby Week is one of my favorite times of the year. Just as life is breathed back into the landscape, the finest young thoroughbreds gather in Kentucky, and one is faced with the perfect reason to brush off the bar-b-que and throw a party. In honor of that, I’m taking a brief break from the dogs, an
Last night I was invited to participate in Orion Oaks Elementary School Fine Arts Night here in Lake Orion, Michigan. This is an event that parent volunteers put together every year, as a means to supplement the arts education their school offers. About 16 classrooms were filled with a variety of visual artists (potters, painters, draftsman, mosaicists, etc), musicians, dancers, and storytellers, and the students also filled the hallways, gym and cafeteria with their own art show. Creativity truly abounds on this night. In years prior I had done a live paint on a 4’ long canvas, I gave color mixing lessons, and last year I did “quick-draw” sketches. This year I thought I would showcase the dog-a-day project, and set up a display highlighting the little paintings. I also had more dog-a-day samples, card stock and oil pastels on the classroom tables, along with a stash of my reference photos, and led small groups of children in drawing lessons. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and I
I’ve spent all of today surrounded by dog-a-day paintings and other project ephemera, getting ready for Orion Oaks Elementary School Fine Arts Night. I’ll be taking about 3 dozen of my favorite dog-a-day paintings over to the school, where I will get to take over a classroom, and lead about 300 children (during the course of the evening – not all at once, thank goodness!) in quick lessons on making their own little dog portraits. We’ll be working in oil pastels on card stock, but the general idea will be the same. This is always one of my favorite nights of the year. But I did take a quick break from all the organization to do a study of another PAWs dog, this one a puppy in training. Now almost 2, Sirius was released by PAWS and is now a “keeper,” meaning a very well mannered and terribly loved family pet. “In Training (Sirius),” 6x8, dog portrait in acrylic on canvasboard, private collection (Thank you!). As is my policy, 20% of the sale of this painting will be donated to PAWs with
I have always been fascinated by the rolls of skin on a shar-pei, and jumped at the opportunity to paint Raisin. Her fawn coloring with darker points (forgive me if I’m not using the correct term!) lent itself to all sorts of colors – blues, purples, magenta, orange, pink, and even green. I put them all in there. Just because I could. That’s called artistic license. Sometimes that means painting something completely differently than how the rest of the world views it. Sometimes that means exaggerating what I do see (which often, I won’t kid you, nobody else sees). I’ve always seen purples and pinks where others just saw red. I think that goes back to my early and terribly nearsighted childhood. When I got my first pair of glasses at 7 years of age, I remember being absolutely amazed at the foliage on trees. They were not just that blurry and familiar green-gray shape, but slivers of dancing golds, yellows, chartreuse, olives, apple greens – I could go on and on. I remember the absolute
I haven’t ever painted a llaso before, so today I was testing new waters. I know that habitually I space eyes like they might appear on a spaniel, and tried to pay careful attention to the actual shape of her skull. Toys and smaller breeds have a squatter skull, and that needs to be taken into consideration from the very beginning. Otherwise, the fur will not look correct, the eyes will be too close together, and the animal’s likeness will never appear. I used very loose brushwork for all the areas except her face, where I concentrated the most detail and color around her eyes and nose. This suggests the flowing hair and fringes without overwhelming her expression. “Rosie (Llasa Apso Study),” 6x8, acrylic dog portrait on canvasboard, private collection (thank you!). Rosie’s portrait was a commissioned piece – your dog can be part of the dog-a-day project, too. Simply send photos to me digitally ( ) or via snail mail (they will be returned! 346 N Anderson,
The sun was slipping in and out of cloud cover today, but after the glorious weekend, I couldn’t help but think this morning about sunbathing and doing a little bit of nothing outside. Not that I did anything about it, mind you, just some aimless thinking. With that in mind, though, choosing the reference photo for today’s dog-a-day was simple. The hardest part was stopping laying more paint on. This piece has had 6 hours to dry and it’s still damp! Many layers of orange, pink and yellow make for a piece that’s dense with color and brushwork. “Basenji Study,” 4x8, acrylic dog painting on canvasboard, $60. Inquiries to . Thanks, as always, for looking. And for sharing these paintings with friends and family, Kim Kimberly Kelly Santini distinctive pet portraits & 4-legged paintings come. sit. stay. enjoy the art. Founding member of the Canine Art Guild the
I am often asked why I stretch preparatory studies for my commissioned portraits out over several weeks. I like to do that because it gives my brain a chance to really wrap itself around a particular dog. Typically I have a handful of commissions patiently waiting their turn on the easel, but there is lots of preparatory work that goes on in the months leading up to their moment in the spotlight. For one thing, I simmer over the breed or dog’s personality, and try to determine the best sort of pose or composition. I seek out examples of the dogs coloring so that I may study them myself, and I try to learn more about breed characteristics when chartering unto unfamiliar territory. Also over the course of time I spend several hours with the reference photos, trying to imagine the dog romping around my yard. What do they look like in the morning sun? What do they look like lounging around? Or gently backlit? Is there a certain way that I can manipulate the lighting to emphasize the animal
Every so often a reference photo lands in my lap that doesn’t need much tweaking at all. Barney’s picture was just such a photo. The texture of his curls contrasting with the smooth grass, the blue and lavender shadows in his fur laid up against the silvery highlights, and the solid abstract composition built from the general shapes of the values – all these things shouted “paint me!” I was more than happy to give in. Of course, I did make a few changes. I softened the background, and pulled texture into the grass just at the bottom of the painting, so as not to compete with Barney’s face. And I cropped in quite a bit, to emphasize his face and the chunks of fur shrouding his eyes. And I threw a darker shadow under his chin to play up the light source. “Barney,” 8x8 square, acrylic labradoodle portrait on canvasboard, private collection. Thanks, as always, to everyone else for your time. And for sharing these paintings with your friends. Kim Kimberly Kelly Santini http://www.turtledove
It’s been a week of goldens! Today’s painting is of Madison, a golden retriever who was raised with the intention of becoming a PAWS with a Cause service dog, but ended up having too much drive. Today she is a search and rescue dog with the Michigan Search and Rescue Operations Team. It’s interesting to see the different moods in the last three paintings, all starring golden retrievers, all basically head studies, each painted with the same 4 colors (pthalo blue red, cad red dark, cad yellow dark and titanium white), yet every one of them with a distinctly different feel. This was a good exercise for me, proving that subject matter need not vary much to find creative variety and unique challenges. “Golden Retriever Study (Madison),” 6x12, acrylic dog portrait on canvasboard, $80. SOLD . Because Madison was a PAWS candidate, I am donating 25% of this portrait’s sale to PAWS with a Cause. I am also very excited to announce my newest dog-a-day project. The week of May 7th will be my inau
Continuing with the golden retriever theme today, I bring you Tory. Loved by everyone, Tory got invited on sleepovers and vacations, and shared 12 beautiful years with her family and their friends. I don’t usually start my dog a days with an underpainting, but today something happened, and I ended up with this gorgeous green on the board. I picked the eyes out of the green, and then the nose followed, and I spent the remainder of the time pulling the wisps and feathers forward. The effect is fascinating – Tory sort of floats ethereally overtop her backdrop. It also showcases the brushwork, even the underlayers, which meant that I needed to pay close attention to each mark I laid down. “Tory (Golden Retriever Study),” 6x12, acrylic pet portrait on canvasboard, collection of the Jeveli family (thank you). Stay tuned for a third golden coming tomorrow. Thanks, as always, for looking. And for sharing these paintings with your friends and family, Kim Kimberly Kelly Santini http://www.turtle
This painting is titled “Faithful.” It’s 8x10, one of my larger dog-a-day paintings, acrylic on canvasboard, $100. Because the muse for this painting is a PAWS service dog, I will donate $25 from it’s sale to the Southeastern Michigan Chapter of PAWS with a Cause. Inquiries to . SOLD. Service dogs willingly apply themselves in so many ways. They add independence to so many lives, and gather simple joy from the knowledge of a job well done. That’s a lesson I appreciated being hammered home in the studio today. This painting is about patience and the intensity of a dog’s gaze as he waits earnestly for his next command. I used soft color and loose, layered glazes. The deepest colors and the strongest values appear in the eyes, reinforcing them as the focal point. Thanks, as always, for looking. And for sharing these paintings with your friends and family, Kim Kimberly Kelly Santini distinctive pet portraits & 4-legged
Parsons or Jack Russells – I don’t know why the name change (someone please enlighten me!), but they still are pretty adorable. There’s something so appealing about the proportions of a terrier’s face – the light of mischief in their eye and those eager ears. This painting has lots of loose layers of translucent color. The energy in the brushwork underlines the immense energy of these little dogs. “Rusty,” 4x5 (this is a tiny one!), acrylic dog portrait on canvasboard, private collection. Again, getting your own dog-a-day is pretty simple – just send pictures to . It’s like Christmas each time I pull in a new email with photo attachments! Thanks, as always, for looking. And for sharing these paintings with friends and family, Kim Kimberly Kelly Santini distinctive pet portraits & 4-legged paintings come. sit. stay. enjoy the art. Founding member of the Canine Art Guild http://www.cani
Don’t border collies all have a playful come-hither look about them? It could be their ceaseless energy, or that whimsical way their ears flop and follow every moment of their head. A charming lopsided mask doesn’t hurt, either. Today’s painting is of Maggie, a border collie mix who adores a good game of Frisbee, regardless of the weather. I could use some of her nonplussed attitude about now (I’m so sick of this ridiculous Michigan weather!). There’s a good portion of lighter values in this painting, but nothing that is pure white. All the light areas are tints of green, violet, and blue. Makes for a very realistic depth to her fur, and the loose brushwork creates a sense of motion, too. “Wanna Play?,” 4x6, dog portrait in acrylic on canvasboard. The second dog-a-day painting to join the collection of Jackie Good (thank you, Jackie). Thanks, as always, for looking. And for sharing these paintings with your friends and family, Kim Kimberly Kelly Santini
This is Kelly, a highly fortunate dog adopted from a shelter into a great home. Although I think her family would argue the point that they were the ones blessed by her presence. Together they enjoyed 14 years of unconditional love. If we all could be so lucky. “Remembering Kelly,” 4x6, dog portrait in acrylic on canvasboard, private collection. Thanks, as always, for looking. And for sharing these paintings with your friends and family. Kim Kimberly Kelly Santini distinctive pet portraits & 4-legged paintings come. sit. stay. enjoy the art. Founding member of the Canine Art Guild the gateway to canine art on the web
Today’s painting came from deep in my reference photo stash. I have drawers crammed full of photos, several shoeboxes equally packed, and probably well over 2000 additional shots stored on my computer. It’s a sort of sickness, I think, collecting images that one day might translate into a painting or two. And it’s starting to be a little daunting – I never fail to get entirely distracted when hunting for something particular. But that’s another story altogether…… So today’s painting came from deep in my reference photo stash. This is a tri colored and merled cattle dog, a pup several years back when my Finnigan was brand new, too. For those of you unfamiliar with merled dogs, they have a dense double layers of fur: a shorter coat of dark black or red brown, with a longer sparser overcoat of white. The two colors together create a luminous silvery blue (“blue merle”) or a glowing pink (“red merle”). Today’s pup has a lopsided mask and tan points anchoring some juicy brushwork. The surfa
A cat named “Mouse.” You gotta love that. On top of the clever moniker, she’s a calico, too. How much more could she possibly have going for her? This painting has layers of dense color – again, I worked from the bottom up. By bottom I mean the “backside” of the painting. I started with a very generic shape of her head silhouetted against the green backdrop, and gradually added smaller layers of translucent color, finishing up with the whiskers and reflections on her eyes. “A Cat Named Mouse,” 6” square, acrylic cat portrait on canvasboard, the latest acquisition of returning client Judy Kroon. Thank you, Judy. J Thank you also to new client Connie Ciak who purchased Friday’s yellow lab portrait. And welcome to all the new dog-a-day readers. I hope you enjoy each painting as much as I enjoy making them. Thanks, as always, for looking. And for sharing these paintings with your friends and family. Back to dogs tomorrow, I promise! Kim Kimberly Kelly Santini http://www.turtledovedesigns.c
When I sat down to do today’s painting, I challenged myself to lay the paint down in shapes or plains. I started with a very loose generic shape with basic indications of the shadows and folds of skin, and worked upwards, making my marks gradually smaller and tighter. I intentionally left areas loose and not as defined as others – mostly to pull your eye directly into the dog’s gaze. I also stacked all the color right in his eyes. I enjoyed the challenge working in this fashion presented, and will play with the approach some more next week. And I have some wonderful faces lined up already, too – it promises to be fun! “In the Blind,” 6” x 12”, acrylic pet portrait on canvasboard, $90. All inquiries to . SOLD. Thanks, as always, for looking. And for sharing these paintings with friends and family. Happy Easter! Kim Kimberly Kelly Santini distinctive pet portraits & 4-legged paintings
Hearing the wind howl all night, and waking up to 2” of snow just sucked the motivation out of me. Of course, part of that could have also been due to the mountain of laundry and endless household surfaces beckoning for Lysol. I do feel human again, though, which is a huge plus. But I did not curl up on the couch like I wanted to. I did the laundry, and killed two cans of Lysol along with a good amount of bleach. The flu germs should be gone (I don’t want to say that they ARE gone, because I do not want to curse us yet again). And then I painted a dog lazing on the couch. Next best thing to doing it myself, right? This is from a stack of 150+ photos I shot in preparation for a larger painting. Harley is the most handsome harlequin great dane I’ve ever seen, and I am very eager to paint him again and again and again. I may do overkill with the preparatory studies, as his coloring is such a joy to work with, but that’s the beauty of the whole dog-a-day project, isn’t it?! “Lazy (Dane) Da
Here is another portrait of a beautiful retriever mix. His coat is so luminous – it’s the softest golden yellow bleached as blonde as can be. The paint is applied in thick glazes on this painting, and the direction of the brushwork adds an element of depth to the piece – it alludes to the dog’s silky fur and creates tactile interest across the surface of the painting. “Sam,” 4x5, dog portrait in acrylic on canvasboard, $50. Inquiries to . Don’t forget that commissioning your own dog-a-day is pretty basic! Review and choose a handful of photos that best represent your dog (kitties, horses, guinea pigs, bunnies – all furry things are welcome – except for hairy spiders!). Email the photos to . Photos can be snail mailed to the studio at 346 N. Anderson, Lake Orion, MI 48362. I will send you a confirmation email with an anticipated date for your own personal dog-a-day. More information about photo selection and the entire proc
Yes, I know it’s Wednesday, and I’m just getting around to Tuesday’s painting. My apologies, but I was sidelined by the flu, which is still rampaging through our house. So it was nice to come into the studio this morning and forget about the drama of the last 48 hours. Along those lines, I chose a happy face bursting with spring color (he photographed a bit bluer than in real life). “Charlie,” 5x7, acrylic dog portrait on canvasboard, private collection. Thank you very much to Judy Kroon who kindly introduced me to Charlie, and then commissioned this portrait. Charlie was a therapy dog, in addition to a wonderful companion, of unknown descent. A little schnauzer, maybe some poodle and wheaton terrier. Regardless, he lived life with zeal, and blessed his family with 17 years of delight. And Charlie continues on his mission – I’m telling you, mixing all these beautiful pastel shades certainly improved my spirits this morning. I know I will return to the stack of Charlie photos and create
Going with the flow. That’s an important part of my artistic process. As you recall, I started a painting last week (see Monday and Tuesday’s postings) with a specific idea in mind – that being of my dog curled up asleep on a crocheted afghan. As the painting progressed, I began to fight with the amount of detail in the dog and in the blanket - I needed to find a balance that allowed the focal point to be the sleepy expression. I struggled with repainting and rubbing out and repainting and rubbing out until I was almost crosseyed. Eventually I stopped fighting it, and allowed the blanket to recede into the background. I softened the patterning in the granny squares, and grayed down that bright apple green that I loved so much. I laid more violet down onto the dog’s mask, and that helped to pull him forward into the viewer’s lap a bit more, too. There are still a few things I would like to change, but I simply ran out of time. I submitted the painting to the competition at 11:50pm last