St. Bernard of the Sunflowers
This is officially my “last” and “newest” painting, from last year. I took time away from it, for more than several weeks. I think almost two months, to be exact. Honestly, I was stuck on what to do next, since I knew the “grass” and “greenery” needed more lights than darks. Also, the “mountains” and “sky” needed to be painted and definition needed to be added, to each. Well, I finally got the energy to work on it this past week, and I finished it. I know it’s not the best, but I feel it will do, for now.
I chose a St. Bernard, because I’ve developed a fondness for them, over the years. Plus, I’ve never really concentrated on an animal for subject matter, in an art piece, except for a few drawings, from awhile back. As most of you know, I enjoy painting/illustrating “doll-like” girls as subject matter, so this is a good change. I think St. Bernards have great, expressive faces and are exactly what we call, “gentle giants.” The funny thing is, is that when I was very young, I was afraid of any large dog. Now, that’s not the case. Like many people in my age group, I saw the movies, “Beethoven” and “Beethoven’s 2nd.,” about the beloved St. Bernard family dog, who wreaks havoc in certain situations, but grows on you. I also saw, “Cujo,” the horror film, based on Stephen King’s novel, of the same title. Even though the dog is evil, I felt for him, regardless. So, I guess it’s easy to see where my love of St. Bernards, comes from.
I decided not to paint the stereotypical St. Bernard with a barrel around his neck, in the snow. I was more interested in a spring/summer scene, with the dog surrounded by flowers and a few mountains in the background. I selected sunflowers because I felt they would be a nice contrast in relation to the St. Bernard’s coloring. This type of scene has been painted and illustrated many times, as well. However, it’s hard to get away from it. If you’re not as familiar with painting or illustrating animals, it’s not necessarily a bad way to go, though.
This time, I painted on a burlap canvas which I purchased “brand new,” at a Goodwill store. I wanted to make sure and save it, for an appropriate illustration. That’s when I realized that I should paint a St. Bernard. They do have a rather rugged appearance, being rescue dogs and treading through the snow. So, to me, it only made sense to use the burlap canvas, with its coarse texture and neutral brown color. I had to research a tad bit, to see if I would need to use gesso on this type of canvas. I’m still fairly new with painting, so you’ll have to pardon my ignorance. I had never painted on a burlap canvas before, so I wanted to make sure to prep it, properly. Sure enough, I found that it is necessary.
I spent a lot of time on the St. Bernard, making sure the coloring and markings were accurate. I would say, I did a decent job. I found a couple of reference images on the internet, to use for the dog’s pose. Like humans, animals can be difficult to illustrate or paint, and when you don’t have a model, sometimes you just have to use a photograph or image, of some sort. I had quite a bit of difficulty, with the St. Bernard’s nose. I couldn’t get the shading quite right, on the very tip. It did take awhile, but I reached a point, where I figured it out. I’m not so sure every feature is exactly right, but I felt it was time to move on.
The sunflowers were actually not as difficult, as I thought they would be. As we all know, each sunflower or any other type of flower, is different. I think I was able to show that, in this painting. The seedlings are more prominent in some and not so much, in others. The petals are bent or pointed, in different directions. Again, I’m not sure about the light source or the shading. A lot of this, was done purely by intuition. The leaves and stems, as well as the greenery, around the St. Bernard, could still be lighter. However, I feel that if I keep working on it, I could ruin what I already have. It’s hard to know, when to stop, at times.
Now, the mountains and the sky were more simple. I’m concerned that the mountains may not be placed correctly, into the background, though. The canvas is “square,” and hopefully, they don’t look too forced into the whole painting/illustration. It’s hard to explain, but maybe looking at the painting closely, you’ll see what I mean. Obviously, it was fairly easy to paint both and shade them, accordingly. I followed my intuition on these, as well.
The painting as a whole, is quite saturated and maybe the colors used, look as if they’re straight out-of-the-tube, but I can say, I’m satisfied. It’s certainly a painting, that could brighten up a room. I worked hard on it. Enough said.
This painting is done in acrylic and measures, 12 x 12 inches.