Selecting images for the invitations – 2

go to previous post
go to first post

One of the early steps when you’re having an exhibition is to worry about the printed materials that will go along with the show.  It’s the first thing that actually has to get done, because there are outside firms involved in producing these materials, and every single link in the chain takes time and has its own deadlines.

We’re currently working with the Marietta/Cobb Museum staff and the graphic designer on the selection for images to go on the postcard invitation as well as the banner to be hung outside the museum.

At first we thought the outside banner was going to be horizontal, and would have been happy to use the banner on this blog, because it’s a great picture.  so we sent the picture below to Michael at Steem Creative.

However, the banner will be vertical, so that image is out.  They suggested using the right 2/3 of the picture as the postcard, and the right panel only for the vertical banner, but jim didn’t like that idea.

And then, when he looked at the entire painting (that we had scanned at Colorchrome), he decided that he liked the entire image much better, so he is suggesting that this be the image for the postcard, and to use another one for the banner.

You might notice the color bar and gray scale at the bottom of the pictures.  This is so that the designer can adjust the color to reflect the bias in their printer.  As it appears on my screen, the picture is way too red, and the one below also.  That’s because my screen has never been color corrected.  And a great many of Jim’s readers won’t have corrected screens, either, so fine.  But when it comes time for printing, it’s good to be able to tell what the painting actually looks like.

Jim likes the image below for the banner outside the museum.  It’s one of his favorite recent paintings, and makes a very strong image that can be plainly seen from a far piece.

The reason these photos are going up on a quick post is because these images are 120 megs each, which represents 110 inches at 200 dpi, a wonderful resolution.  but that means they can’t go by regular email.  that’s why they’re being posted here, so the designer and museum directors can have a look.  I’ll send them the link, and they can communicate back by email.  We may go thru this process several times until we come up with something everybody is happy with.

In a little while I’ll post the next chapter in this process, which is a visit by Bob Meredith, who is helping to curate the show.  He came out to Jim’s house on Monday to look at everything and start getting an idea of what he’d like to have in the show.

go to next post



A Portrait of My Wife as Medusa

When I suggested to my wife that I paint her portrait as Medusa, her response was immediately positive, as we work well on collaborative projects. I wanted to paint Medusa because I have often revisited the classics through my career, while my wife had her own reason to pose for such a subject. The first time I painted Medusa was perhaps fifteen years ago, a painting of Perseus holding Medusa’s head, with her Gorgon sisters in the background. I have often made use of snakes in combination with alluring females. I use the Serpent with Eve every time I do a Garden of Eden or a Fall of Man, which I have done in both painting and etching. I did a series of portraits of a woman who did exotic dances with pythons; and when my children were young, there was always a collection of rodents and snakes in the kitchen closet, where it was warm – so snakes have always been a part of my life.

Biblical writers used the snake as a symbol of Satan, the dark angel, but most other cultures understand snakes differently, as a symbol of generation, death, and resurrection. In certain cultures, the snake is a female symbol of sexuality, healing, and wisdom. Places where snakes abound – like caves with natural water sources, and therefore snakes – are experienced as holy, and countless sacred sites have been established around these dark, damp places.

Medusa’s head in classical times was used as a warning to stay away, much as the skull and crossbones is used today. It stood for both danger and as a caution to be wary because you were on hallowed ground. Women’s mystery cults used such masks to frighten off male intruders. Medusa is the prototypical gargoyle. But prior to Greece’s adoption of Medusa, she was the serpent goddess of wisdom.

Just this past year I revisited the theme of Perseus and Andromeda, in which Medusa is basically a prop, and this suggested a close-up portrait of Medusa as an independent work.

When the opportunity came up to do a portrait for the national competition, I thought perhaps something a little more challenging and unconventional might be fun – thus the idea of my wife as Medusa – a woman with snakes in her head.

The convention usage of the term suggests neurotic behavior of an inconvenient or even dangerous nature. But it also refers to the unleashing of the sacred – which of course is also frightening. When I suggested that I wanted her to play the role of Medusa, I saw the symbolism in regards to the sacred nature of every person, and most especially of those we love.

When I met my wife seven years ago, she had already been through two surgeries for breast cancer, and in our first year together she had two more, resulting in a mastectomy. This was an issue of some impact to me, because I had lost my first wife to cancer about a year before. It only occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that the four skulls depicted in the first image symbolize the four surgeries.

When I first knew her, my wife wore only black, shapeless clothing, and she suffered from extreme self consciousness after her mastectomy. But these past few years she’s worked to overcome her body issues through her art and her interest in unstitched clothing. She insisted that we use the older, less western styles of wrapping that do not cover the chest but – in her case – expose the scars from the surgeries she has survived. While it is clearly not socially correct to expose yourself in most pubic situations, artists and models get by with a lot that other people would not choose to do – refusing to hide. In this way, my wife embodies Medusa’s willingness to make the best of her disfigurement.

I wanted to feature Medusa’s double-sided nature in this painting, so I opted for a lenticular painting, which shifts the image as the viewer passes back and forth in front of the painting. We selected costuming and poses for a series of photographic studies. During this time, I refined my drawings for the final paintings, while cutting and grounding the two panels I wanted to use. I had my son Michael, a woodworker, cut both panels into 4” wide vertical strips, which then I clamped back together on separate supporting panels.

Based on my numerous photo studies, I made five preliminary paintings of the full length figure in pastel. At this point I decided upon and added the secondary elements around the figure – polychrome relief carvings based on a Babylonian angel of death, and an early Greek Gorgon. To these I added a few human skulls, a shrunken head and the smashed head of a Mayan sacrificial urn, all from my collection.

For the first painting, I used egg tempera to paint Medusa in her role as a member of divine royalty and snake goddess. I painted the figure from life, and took the drapery, serpent headdress, and secondary elements from the pastel studies.

The second image was more problematic, as I wanted a look somewhat wilder and more hysterical than would be possible to hold for the length of a sitting. So my wife photoshopped some of the more animated head shots into various alarming combinations, and from a selection of these I painted four head studies, then used two of those for the second image’s head, using a pose I’d developed in the earlier pastels.

For this second painting, I decided to use encaustic, as it has a rough, spontaneous texture that is quite distinct from the elegance of egg tempera.

When the paintings were finished, I delivered the panels to Michael so he could fabricate a special frame that would hold the strips at 90 degrees to one another, making a three-dimensional painting that looks different depending on the viewing position – in this case revealing Medusa’s internal and external selves interlocked. My wife points out that her portrait only seems to have a normal chest when the images are at their most confused.

Friends and family are concerned that perhaps this painting illustrates some negativity in our relationship. We both are amused by their attitudes, as we have made a study of the dark side of human nature, and contentedly explore topics that make others uneasy.

Celestial Dancers 5 – stencils

I return to the third and largest of these three astronomical dancer paintings. my first step is to glaze the dancer’s skin and skirts to darken them, burnt umber and ultramarine blue over the body and ultramarine over the blue and purple fabrics.


I cut a mylar stencil to cover the dancer and her long flowing veil and tape it in place with the panel laying flat on three low stools. One at a time I mix up and then spray a series of colors over the galaxy patterns, eight different layers of color starting with a pale ultramarine over all the light areas, followed by yellow ochre, then a layer of cadmium red medium and white.


You can easily see how far I took down the  value by comparing the unsprayed area of the long flowing veil.


Then come five different layers of spray to go over the darker areas of the painting; beginning with cadmium red medium mixed with gold ochre, followed by ultramarine violet, manganese violet, and permanent violet, each pigment darker than the previous one. The final layer of spray is ultramarine blue again, giving an effect so dark that it could almost be taken for black.


At this point I want to begin creating decorative patterns on my dancer’s skirts.

The first step. I take three pieces of tracing paper and trace out the shape of the four areas of fabric to develop. Then I cut out a window in each piece of paper with a small mat knife. Each mask is laid over its appropriate area and then over that I place a piece of lace. When I spray the tempera over the lace I get an approximate replica of the lace pattern on the painting surface. In this case I sprayed a cadmium red deep mixed with gold ochre over the red section of the skirt and a mixture of ultramarine blue and bone black over the scarf and underskirt.

It will still take a lot of fine brush drawing and highlighting to develop this area but the sprayed pattern at least gives me a good place to start.


Now I turn my attention to the lighter parts of the two galaxies. I begin with a glaze of ultramarine pink over the veil that crosses the center of the painting, and then with a small sea sponge I begin dabbing in a pale mixture of cobalt blue and white into the lighter areas of the more distant galaxy followed by a layer of gold ochre and white and then finished up with  stronger accents of pure titanium white. This particular piece of sponge gives a dozen or so small relatively even spots of paint so it makes an effective texture for dense star patterns. With the forward galaxy I begin in the center with cadmium yellow light and then white to make the center illumination as strong as I can get it and then I use a very light sponging of the cadmium yellow on the radiating arms of the pattern.

These arms need to be darkened so I use burnt sienna, very dilute with egg medium, and with a large round brush to paint in most of the surface of the radiating arms in various degrees of darkness. From here I go right back to the figure with the same brush and paint and further darken the hair, skin, and much of the costume.


Celestial Dancers 4: back to the beginning


I set the second panel aside and go back to the first of these three panels. The original charcoal drawing has pretty strong value contrasts already established, so instead of restating the drawing as I did on the other paintings, I go directly to laying in glazes of local color in each section of the dancer, burnt sienna for the skin color, indian yellow on the hair and halter, diarylide yellow on the skirt and manganese blue on the flowing veil. I deepen the hair and skin in shadowy areas with more burnt sienna or persian red, and the yellow skirt with a second coat of diarylide yellow.


I intend to use the same basic colors and procedures on the nebula behind the dancer as I did on the preceeding panel. My first two pigments are persian red and gold ochre, both mixed with a safflower oil addition to the egg yolk and water medium. I begin laying in washes of the red in the upper part of the painting and work down to the lower left where I use the gold ochre. I want the color more intense, so I add glazes of cadmium red light and then some cadmium red with chrome yellow to produce a rich orange glaze. The stars are drawn in with gold ochre and restated with the orange.

On a number of places on both the right and left edges of the red forms I paint in a thin border of clear medium and then strengthen this with a little titanium white because I want the gesso ground less absorbent in the areas where I plan to have white cloud forms. The medium will make the spray bead up so I can blot it. I use the same treatment for all of the stars.


It takes me a day to design and cut the stencils I need for the next operation. To do this I lay two large sheets of mylar over the painting, tape them in place to avoid slippage and with a felt tip pen trace out the shapes I am going to need. This means almost everything but the white areas. Again I cut the mylar with an electric stencil cutter, a pen with a hot point. After all my stencils are fixed in place, either by a little bit of masking tape or by the weight of a few small coins, I can begin spray painting.


Each pigment I mix up first on a glass slab with egg yolk and water medium, spoon it into a small bottle, and then add more medium and more water.


My little lung-powered sprayer then transfers the paint in a fine mist to the flat surface of the panel. My first layer is of ultramarine blue, the second layer is prussian blue mixed with titanium white, the third layer is cobalt blue with white. I am trying thise variety of pigments to try to see exactly which blue will best suit me.

The next layer is a very dark permanent violet (diossazinico in Italian) which begins to add the very dark blue violets I need. I further modify this with another layer of cobalt blue and still further with a very pale spray in a few places with cobalt blue and white.


Once the tape and coins are carefully removed and the stencils are taken up I can see what I have wrought. A lot of the edges are very hard, so I soften them up with a q-tip and egg medium and a paper towel, and use the same things to bring out a lot of the stars that were hiding under the spray.


The dancer’s large blue green veil now gets a light glaze of cobalt blue as does her skin and hair. This drops the values a little lower and makes the skin a little more natural in color.

Out comes my lung-powered atomizer and I begin to spray all the areas of the panel below the yellow diagonal. At first I work around the flared yellow skirt which is facilitated by the fact that the yellows have a significant oil content (only 6-8%) which somewhat repels the leaner egg medium and allows me to quickly blot up most of the overspray with a wadded up paper towel. I do a series of successive oversprays over the same areas, first with pernament red and cadmium red medium, then with cadmium red light and raw sienna.


Near the end of the session I want a lot more of the red glaze over the yellow skirt so I dilute my red a little further and spray over the skirt a part at a time. As soon as I spray a section the oil content of the yellow underlayer resists the spray, making it bead up, so I immediately brush very lightly over the spray before it can set up with a four inch soft brush which spreads the color in a moderately even soft brushy glaze. The last few touches of the session are with a round sable brush where I take an even more diluted glaze and draw in more defined forms of shadow over the yellow glazes.


Celestial Dancers 3: the start of the second painting


I start with a spray-fixed drawing of charcoal and blue, red and yellow pastels. I mix up a fresh batch of egg yolk medium strengthened with maybe 6 or 8 percent safflower oil, and begin with the same gold ochre developing the drawing on the dancer and her costume. After the contours are indicated, I lay in areas of somewhat flat local color: burnt sienna on the skin, indian yellow on the hair, gold jewelry and skirt, and a mixture of ultramarine and cobalt blue on the drapery over her head and the sash on her left. Then with another layer or two of each local color I begin to indicate the darker areas of color that will be needed for effects of shadow or darker local color. As I am working with the indian yellow, I expand it out beyond the dancer to the upper right and down to the lower left to create a base color for the dark reddish orange cloud that will fill the bottom half of the painting.


Now I mix up a new batch of paint medium, egg yolk and water only, no oil, and with a little of this I mix up some persian red – a slightly bluish earth red. I drop some of this in a small bottle and add a little more egg medium and a lot more water.


For the effects of the nebula on the top left of the painting I go back to the safflower oil fortified medium and paint in the big cloudy forms directly behind the dancer and her veil. On the shadowy parts of the forms I use cobalt blue and white, then maroon and white alternately, then I paint in the backlighting on the top and side edges with white with just a bit of gold ochre.


After all this dried overnight, the next morning I laid a big sheet of transparent mylar over my dancer and with a felt tip pen traced out the silhouette of her figure and hair, her veil and the top edge of the orange and red cloud forms that comprise the bottom half of the painting. Back at my worktable, I plugged in my electric stencil cutting tool, which melts the mylar with a very hot pin point, and I cut out the shape of the dancer’s veil, her torso, and the top of the orange clouds. Then laying my panel flat on some low stools, I laid the mylar stencil over the dancer and held it in place with several small pieces of plate glass.

At this point I change back to the egg yolk medium with no oil addition and begain mixing my new colors for the day. I spray a couple of light layers of cobalt blue and then some cobalt green, and then go on to some ultramarine blue. After each layer, I wipe away some of the pigment that has beaded up on the oilier underlayer with a dry piece of paper towel. I then spray some maroon and then some more indian yellow on the transition areas against the orange clouds below.


The next two layers of spray are with cobalt blue and ultramarine blue again, but this time each is mixed with a good portion of titanium white, crating an atmospheric veil effect over the transparent colors below. After this, I remove the stencils and take a look at what I have done. The edges of the orange cloud forms are very crisp and hard, so I take a q-tip, dip it in egg medium and very delicately remove just enough paint along the edges to make a soft cloudy transition. Using the same technique, I delicately remove a lot of the blue glazes that have accumulated over my pale white backlighting on the clouds, like making lights on a drawing with an eraser, and then I do the same thing to create a few stars.

The next day’s work is done almost entirely with paint applied with a small synthetic sponge in the form of a disc two inches across. They are sold in drugstoeres for make-up application, but they put egg tempera on just fine. The skirt gets a very delicate glaze of cadmium yellow deep, so does the halter and some of the yellow lights on the cloud forms. The dancer’s body and hair get a very light glaze of burnt umber to drop it into a deeper value. The value seems deep enough, but the color is so warm that later I will have to give it a coat of ultramarine and white to make it more muted.

I mix up the first of several batches of gold ochre and cadmium red deep and begin applying this over the darks of the red clouds layer after layer until it builds up quite dark. In the lower left and in the center the shadowy parts of the clouds are darkened with a medium grey made of raw umber and white then later glazed over with the cadmium yellow deep.

This ochre and red mixture has a good value but is kind of dead as a paint layer, but a wonderful fix for that is a glaze of the unmixed cadmium red over the darks. I make another stencil to cover the yellow skirt, blue veil and pale sky, and do a fairly quick job on the glaze with tmy trusty mouth sprayer.


After all this darkening of these red clouds the yellow skirt is way too pale so I strengthen all the darks with very soft glazes of the same cadmium red deep, but this time I do it with a large round pointed sable brush until the values begin to merge with the background. A little more detail drawing with the same dark red finishes up this stage.

Celestial Dancers 2: local colors

Instead of beginning yet another panel, I keep this third one on the easel and finally start in with the tempera phase of the project. I start with a gold ochre and begin to refine the drawing of the dancer and the near galaxy. Then I do the same thing with the far galaxy in ultramarine blue.

Focusing on the dancer initially, I lay in local colors on the hair, skin and costume. In addition to the ochre I use burnt sienna, cobalt green and ultramarine blue, and on the sash, mineral violet. The red on the skirt is red ochre and permanent red, just a bit gaudy for my taste.

I continue to develop the figure for a while with more layers of gold ochre and ultramarine and begin to use some delicate maroon glazes to further subdue the intensity of the red and blue skirts. Then using that same maroon color I emphasize and clarify the forms of the near galaxy and the long veil. With a very dilute ultramarine I add a few masses to tone and a lot of definition of shapes to the galaxy farther back. To finish up the day’s work I take a small palette knife and a piece of fine sandpaper and pull out a suggestion of some highlights on the dancer’s veils and skirts.

At  this stage I change my paint medium from egg yolk and water to egg yolk and safflower oil with the water. It doesn’t take much oil at all to make a big difference in the way the paint works – 5% oil is plenty. This will not only give me a harder and more resilient paint film but it will allow me to do a good bit of softening and blending of the paint strokes. My favorite technique is the use of a thumb or forefinger moistened with a little saliva (ugh!) right after the paint has been set down. I can also use a brush loaded with medium and water and blend with the brush bristles. Since I am wanting this to be a very soft painting, these techniques will be important.

I start with one batch of burnt umber and another of ultramarine blue. I add just enough water to the blue to subdue its intensity down to a color you might call ‘navy blue,’ a blue grey. Using a one inch flat sable brush, I begin to put in the blue grey behind the figure of the dancer and the two galaxy forms – I use the paint very diluted so it takes anywhere from two to four layers of pigment to get the soft scruffy paint surface I want at this point. It looks a lot like the coat of a black poodle I used to have.

Once all this open space is filled in, I change color back to my maroon pigments and lay in larger masses of color over the near galaxy and the many random little stars I have left showing against the dark spaces. Lastly I employ more of the maroon on the dancer to darken and refine the drawing throughout and to very softly deepen the shadow patterns on her skin.

At this point I am going to set the painting aside for a few days to let the paint cure and harden for awhile, and I will go back to work on painting number two in this series.

Celestial Dancers 1: drawing

My wife Jeanne has been asked by her friend Asha to make her a large 4’x9′ silk veil to be painted with an image of a nebula, this to go with the theme of one of her dances. In her research on what nebulas really look like, Jeanne found the Hubble Observatory website and enthused about the beauty of the images. I took a good look and agreed with her, they are quite something special to see. I have painted Asha in performance several dozen times in the past and two months previously she had performed a new work based on Sufi dance traditions at an art opening of my work where Jeanne had made a series of photographs of the event.

The dance forms have to do with a constant spinning and rotating kind of motion and it occurred to me that I might like to try doing a spinning Asha against an astronomical background. In reviewing the Hubble photos and Jeanne’s dance photos I gradually narrowed my images down to what I will use for three (or four, or more) paintings.

Jeanne, a visual artist who has abandoned tight, nitpicky drawings for loose and flowing forms, encourage me to stray from the tight, anal-retentive practices of traditional tempera painting, and suggested that I go large for this series. Large, she insisted, with big loose brushstrokes. I considered her request.

My first two tasks were to make a set of drawings of the dance poses I wanted to use, and make a series of gessoed panels on which to paint the images. Usually I work with acrylic gesso, which horrifies traditional tempera painters, so I decided for this one, since I was breaking so many other “rules,” I should revert to “the way things have always been done.” I worked on both these projects at the same time, the drawings taking a day or two each and the panels taking a longer time.

First I bought the masonite panels in the sizes I thought I wanted and enough 1×2″ wooden strips to glue on the back of the panels to give a firm rigid support. When each panel was glued up it was time to mix up a batch of white gesso to cover the surface of each panel. Four to six layers is generally enough to do the job.

The standard process for preparing panels is to build up a thickness of gesso in excess of your judgment of how thick you think the ground should be, and then to sand it down to a perfectly smooth and featureless surface, as they say, “like burnished ivory.”

Given the character of the images I am planning to produce and the larger than usual scale of the paintings I decided to aim for a less immaculate surfae, and I produced a texture that has a certain softness but has retained evidence of the various layers of gesso laying one over the other with only enough sanding to obliterate the more annoying lumps and bristle marks. I am working for a surface that has plenty of visual incidents, perfectly imperfect.

Painting one

I take the first of my panels and begin with a blunt stick of vine charcoal to sketch in my dancer and her flowing costume and veil. Then using my Hubble photos as a guide I sketch in the nebula as a background around the figure, only instead of the vine charcoal I use several colors of pastel sticks which relate clossely to the colors in the photos. When I feel that I have the design I want, I give the panel several light coats of shellac highly diluted in alcohol, just barely enough so that it will not lift up when it is painting over with the first layer of tempera.

Painting two

Normally I would start right in with the tempera immediately after the drawing was fixed but in this case I skip on to the second panel with its own dancer and nebula pattern, doing exactly the same process as on the first panel.

Painting three

After panel number two was fixed I took it off the easel and set up the third and largest panel and began it in exactly the same way. Here the background consists of two galaxies, one overlapping the other. The photo caption tells that the nearer galaxy is much closer to our vantage point than the second, so that even though they appear to be in contact, they are actually far distant from one another. On this panel once again I do the dancer in vine charcoal, then I sketch in both galaxies in a pale yellow ochre pastel. On the near galaxy I reinforce and refine the drawing with a red ochre pastel stick so that it goes red orange. The second galaxy I redraw with a medium value blue so as to keep the two levels of stars separate visually as well as separate in my own mind so I don’t confuse myself.

Venice Carnival – Parasol – 7: finish

After a long delay while working on other projects, I am ready to go back and finish this painting.

All that needs doing is to paint in the highlights with a variety of opaque pigments to develop more details, increase the value contrasts, and bring up the color to the intensity that I want.

In other words, I’ve still got to paint everything again except the background.

It will be close to a week’s work, but it is a lot of fun to do.

In all of this stage I use few pigments – yellow ochre, naples yellow, nickle yellow, white, cadmium red light, and then some ultramarine blue and raw umber.

I start with the yellows on the face mask then move on to the gold trim on the drapery on the head and the decorations on the chest. After that I pay attention to the pinks (cadmium red, white, naples yellow) on the rose in her hat and on her belt.

The trim on the belt is raw umber and white and ochre. I use this same combination on the white lace at the bottom of the skirt, then move on to the roses across the bottom (red, naples yellow and nickle yellow).

After I highlight the floral patterns on the apron, thn I begin to highlight the yellow fabric on the blouse and skirt, first with naples yellow, then with nickle yellow. At random times I put in a few colors on the purse whenever I am using a color elsewhere that is apt for the purse.

When my yellows seem strong enough I begin strengthening my blacks (which are really dark grey) with glazees of ultramarine which both darkens the values and gives a richer color harmony.

My last step is to highlight the strings of beads over her shoulders, as well as the studs on the belt and the “white” lace at the bottom, with a mixture of ultramarine and white that is very close to pure white.

A delicate glaze of burnt sienna over the lace on the parasol warms it up a bit.

Portrait 6: the mirror

I begin this session working exclusively on the elements within the mirror. I start with ultramarine and umber and paint nearly all the shadow and middle tones darker.

After the blue and browns I restate a lot of the greens in the hanging plants.

Next I start up with venetian red with just a little bit of umber in it. I use it very dark in the space behind the figure but less dark in the potted plants, the lamp table, and drapery. Everything goes darker and the colors merge into one another.

the next session, I immediately proceed to start setting in the lighter values where the window illuminates each of the elements in view, starting with myself and then going on to the lamp sculpture, sofa, plants, and then the lace curtain.

Portrait 5: the dog

With the next day’s work i begin glazing in color over the previous day’s work in greys, yellow and blue greens over the plants, a very dilute venetian red over my skin, yellow ochre very pale over parts of the curtain, lamp, sculpture and plants, and multiple layers of mars yellow over the background behind my figure and over the entire surfface of the armoir.

The floor and small table get several glazes of yellow ochre with some raw umber.

I was thinking that the last thing I need to do before making the next photo is to block in some color and the off white sofa arm and back.

I had been thinking that it might be appropriate to include our little spaniel in the picture just because Avery had such a good time with the aniimals while he was visiting her, but I wasn’t sure how I might do it.

I came back from a short break and found the little dog napping on the sofa just on the spot I would want her to pose, so I decided to try painting fast.

About the time I got her drawn in the postman came and all the dogs went rushing to the door to bark.

After I checked my mail for awhile the dog went back to the sofa and resumed  her nap in the same spot, so I was able to finish painting her in from life, along with the sofa arm.

At this point only the sofa arm and the dog are anywhere near completed, but all the elements of the design are laid in with a local color in its own middle value range.

From here on my procedure should be to paint in stronger lights and create volume and texture, and to continue to develop the darks deeper and deeper.