Black Jack: The Painting of a Dog

Meet Black Jack! Black Jack is a friend that I have known for some time, his person being a neighbor who has an office in my building. He is a sweet fellow whose bark is certainly worse than his bite! His person asked me to paint his portrait, which was a wonderful experience for me!

First, I took some photos of Jack in the studio. He was very excited, and moved around quite a bit, stopping only for a second to pose.

Next, I played around with his photo in Photoshop, using digital filters to abstract the image into an interesting composition. Then I started painting.

All of my paintings begin with a simple line drawing on a dark background. Sometimes I freehand the drawings, but with Black Jack, I traced the image from the digitally altered photograph onto a canvas using an overhead transparency. After the drawing is drawn onto the canvas with a light colored pencil, I begin blocking in colors with acrylic paint.

Several layers of color are added, with essences of previously applied layers showing through in subtle ways. A border is masked off around the edge to allow for a faux frame to be painted in later.

It looks a little bizarre at this point…

As much as I enjoyed the tail in the previous stages, it just didn’t seem to work right for the overall composition, so I took it out.

Eventually, it all comes together. Black Jack’s portrait is finished!

Allowing others to see my step by step process like this is a courageous new step for me. Although I am not at all nervous about sharing my process or having others look over my shoulder, so to speak, there are times that I do not know exactly where a painting is going. It is a bit unnerving to allow others to watch as you venture into uncertain territory.

I was brave enough with this piece to actually allow “live” updates to Twitter (@BZTAT) as I was working on the piece. My followers on Twitter seemed to enjoy that, so I plan to post future endeavors “in process” as I work. Search #bztatptg if you are interested in following these updates on Twitter.

Life is an Adventure!


Art Adventures Studios, located in downtown Canton, OHnear Second April Galerie and the historic Onesto Hotel.