Painting Dogs in Oil with Thinners

Thinners, thickeners, oils and other mediums open up all sorts of artistic opportunities. This month I’ve been focusing on using mineral spirits as a thinner in my dog paintings and portraits, working wet-on wet as the colours move with the solvent.
In the above video, you can see how the liquid runs with the colour and takes it to sometimes unexpected places. Working this way, I’ve allowed broad blooms and brushstrokes to form the background, taking it a step further than what I was doing in the recent Corgi Butt Series.

These colourful washes cover the canvas completely, so when I go back with my titanium white I can really make my highlights pop!
In the example below, I’ve added more white around the Keesond’s head, which stands out thanks to the umber wash. This gives me the dark-on-light contrast that I want, so the final piece is dramatic and visually impactful.

I’ve used the same technique in the below painting of a husky in the mist, working up contrast by saving my whites for last.

In the video below, you can see another example of how the pigment runs with the thinner continuously as I work on the background, and how the quality of mark changes in day two when things have firmed up.

Whether I’m working on custom pet portraits or my own paintings for display, I’m always looking for new ways to push my mark-making abilities and create new and exciting work.
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Pet Portrait art of a dog and kitten by Zann Hemphill

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