I have a commission to paint another portrait of Benny, this one a watercolor, but I’m apprehensive because he’s so fuzzy. I’ve been doing short-haired animals and have never spent much time on texture. It’s time to brush up (haw).
I went looking for books that featured watercolors of long-haired animals, and the closest I was able to get at Barnes Noble was Secrets of Watercolor by Joe Garcia. I like this small book because 1. it is only $12.99, 2. it is a great little reference with one page per technique (dry brush, etc), 3. I admire his style, and find his techniques already close to mine (he’s not afraid to call lifting a deliberate technique rather than a do-over), and 4. he included demonstrations of a furry dog as well as a fat cat.
So I painted Garcia’s dog Rocky. I thought it was pretty good for a first try at his technique. Things I did differently was to first put down some light washes of either sienna or purple, to warm or cool a few areas, then lay all the fur on in distinct brushstrokes rather than as my usual blobby wash. I also used my fan brush to both add some dry strokes and also feather puddles of paint out. I usually hate how artificial the fan brush looks, but I got better at just using a half or third of it.
It was difficult to get the Ultramarine/Burnt Umber mix I use for black dark enough without adding Payne’s Gray, as I had to do at his jaw. Payne’s Gray is OK but a little dull. I just bought the much darker Intense Blue, and plan to see if that works well. When I tried Indigo/Burnt Umber once the result was a disaster – it just lifted too easily, wouldn’t push around, and was miserable to work with. I love Indigo in shadows but will never try to use it where I need to adjust it.