Monday, March 16, 2015

Two Barleys?

In the past, I might have mentioned that I organize an English Festival for local middle school students each spring. It's a fun experience, but it's also stressful to get workshop facilitators, a storyteller, awards, book quizzes, and then register 300 middle schoolers for their top choices of sessions. Most of the year, there's not much work other than choosing the next year's book lists, but at the end of February, chaos starts to break loose for about 3 weeks.

So, when I saw that one of the local wine bars in town was having another paint your pet's portrait Cork and Canvas night on Friday, I decided that was the perfect excuse to set aside 2.5 hours for myself during this crazy time.

Back in November, I did Soth's picture. That meant that Barley girl was my model for this session.

Choosing a picture was one of the hardest parts of the whole experience. Barley's such a good little Tyra Banks that there were just way too many to choose from. I knew I wanted to use one of our leaf pictures from the fall because they just made me happy and fall is my favorite time of year, so the one that looked like it would work best for the painting was this one:


You send the picture to the teacher a week before the class and then she uses some special paper to transfer an outline of the pet onto the canvas--if we had to take the time to draw the pets ourselves, we'd need much longer than the 2.5 hour session! I sent a couple extra pictures just in case she didn't think this one would work, but luckily she liked it best, too.

When I got to class, Barley's outline was on the canvas ready to be painted. I forgot to take a picture at first, so I'd already started painting--but this is close to what I started with.



Our teachers says you should get the eyes and nose down first since that will really be what tells us that it's "our" pet and not just any pet. Then she says you can do whatever you want to next and just go wild adding textures. I'm not good at letting go and being wild--I guess it's the editor in me. I'm very controlled--and I get so focused on the painting that I don't even remember to drink my glass of wine to loosen up a bit!

With Soth's portrait, I was crazy stressed. I got my nice white cat painted and then the teacher told me to add shading--and showed me with one spot. In a matter of seconds, my beautiful white cat had grey on him and I had a meltdown. He looked grungy and not like my cat who is obsessed with being clean. Then I kept adding more shading and all of the sudden he wasn't grungy, he was my beautiful boy.

With Barley's portrait, I wasn't all that worried about making it look like Barley. In real life, she kind of looks like Picasso put her together with her tiny head, her fluffy chest, her tiny waist, and her crazy tail, so if she looked a little wacky in the painting, it would just capture her spirit.


This picture was really fun because I got to blend a lot of colors. I blended all of the colors for her browns, for her tongue, for the shine on her nose, and for leaves. There's something very relaxing about smearing colors around on a palate trying to get the ones you need. I was excited that the teacher drew in a few of the leaves because with Soth there were no extra elements (not that I had any extra time to do anything but him).

There was a time crunch at the end, so the background looks choppier and messier than I would have made it--but I actually kind of like it. It makes it more texture-y and grass-like I think.


Girlfriend decided she didn't want to sit and pose like the portrait, but I think she's pretty impressed with her likeness. 


It was a really fun experience and I'm so looking forward to doing it again! Have you ever painted a portrait of your pets? How did they turn out? 


16 comments:

  1. What a beautiful portrait! I am not good at painting or drawing...so no I have never painted a portrait of the girls. I am sure it would not turn out good!

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    1. You'd be surprised! I am not artistic, but when there's already and outline on your canvas and you have a glass of wine in hand, magic happens ;)

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  2. What a great portrait! Mom wishes she was talented enough to do this! Great job!!!

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    1. There were only two of us in the class, so we got lots of one-on-one attention from the teacher. And it was kind of like paint-by-number since the teacher had already put the outline of our pets on the canvas. Thank you!

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  3. Omigoodness! You did an amazing job! I've never painted my own critters, but several other people have done portraits of my animals. They're too adorable not to!

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    1. Thank you! Barley and Soth are way to cute to not be preserved on canvas, too! I'm glad you've got portraits of your babies, too :)

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    1. Thank you! I had a lot of fun doing it :)

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  5. That looks like so much fun! I'm going to have to see if I can find something like this in Denver. I was artistic once upon a time, but am quite out of practice. I love how your portrait turned out!

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    1. It was a blast! I have some friends in Colorado Springs who do wine and painting nights down that direction, so I'm sure there's somewhere in the Denver area that does them. I love how the portrait turned out, too! I did find a couple tiny spots that I forgot to put paint on in my rush to finish by the end of the class, but luckily they can both be covered up with a little white and I don't think anyone but me will know they were supposed to be colorful :)

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  6. Portrait Barley turned out lovely. Are you going to hang them next to each other?

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    1. I've been lamenting the fact that I don't have a mantel to hang both their portraits over and really look like a crazy pet lady! Once I get some spring cleaning done, I think I'm going to hang them up one above the other in this blank spot on my bedroom wall :)

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  7. You did a fantastic job, just love the colors.

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    1. Thank you! I had a lot of fun mixing paints to get the colors I wanted--I think I spent more time experimenting with mixing things than I did actually putting color on the canvas ;)

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  8. That came out beautiful! I've never tried anything like that. My mother used to paint watercolors but I didn't get one bit of her talent. I'd probably focus more on drinking the wine than painting....LOL!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. Thank you! My mom and my aunt are both very artistic, but I've never been much of a drawer or painter. I thought I'd focus more on the wine than the paint, too, but I just can't turn off my "editor brain" and relax, so I get so caught up in trying to make each stroke perfect that I forget about the wine and realize I've still got half a glass and only a few minutes of class left.

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