Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Klaus the German Shepherd

8" x 10"

I just finished up another commission, and it was a great experience. The client gave me so many great photos to work from that I was able to play around quite a bit before I settled on the final pose.  By the time I started this one I had a really good feel for the subject.
Here are some of the sketches and color studies that I did...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Maggie the Bloodhound


11" x 14"

Maggie the bloodhound was commissioned as an anniversary gift.  The couple is celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary and the  traditional gift was ivory, since deemed unethical, so now it's just animals.  As Maggie is their beloved pet, a portrait was the perfect choice. I just love how regal she looks!

If you are interested in a custom pet portrait of your dog, send me an email at cindymcd73@gmail.com.  I'd love to paint your pup!

Days 3 through 16...

The past 2 weeks have been very busy with getting the kids back to school and fall sports schedules, and me catching up with all the housework that I neglected while they were home over the summer.  So I have been painting daily, but not posting here on the blog... so here is a shot of days 3 through 16.

I have been jumping around from drawing from photos to drawing from life, enjoying both.  I just need to remind myself to slow down at the start of a piece and have a clear idea of my intent, being mindful of each mark I make, no matter the medium or style.  This is an experiment of sorts and I need to give it my all to actually get anything out of it.  Here's hoping the last half of 30 days brings me closer to my goal.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Day 2

Day 2

Stopping here on this one. That is always the struggle for me, knowing when to stop. But I liked this point of the painting and also ran out of time... So here is Day 2!

 initial pass...


* the colors are wonky as I work out some technical issues!*

30 paintings in 30 days, September 2015 Edition

Day one! 

September 1st started my new project, 30 portraits in 30 days. I find working in series to be very productive for me and so I jumped at the chance to sign up for Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge.  I've decide to stick to portraits because that is something I love and have always wanted to improve on. For now I'm sticking with monochromatic watercolor because I feel working out he drawing is hard enough with out throwing color into the mix... Maybe as the month goes on I will feel more comfortable and break into more color.  I intend to at least do one sketch in my book everyday, and then more on days when I have more time ( like when E starts school next week).  I liked how this one was coming along before I tried to add in more details...

but I thought it got weird when I did...

Either way, it doesn't have a likeness, which is what really bothers me.  So, I keep trying!

My 100th day

My 100 Day project was complete on August 19th, but the end of August was so busy with the kids that I am just now getting to reflect on it...and I've already moved on to a new venture!  But before I talk about that, I thought I'd talk a bit about my 100 days.
Starting on May 1st, I painted in my sketchbook every day (missing a few) for 100 days, all dogs.  This was such a great learning experience and I'm so glad I stuck with it.  Committing to a single subject-dogs, medium-watercolor, and format-sketchbook, eliminates the "what will I paint today?" And just gets me started painting which is the hardest part. Most days I would end up doing more than that first sketchbook painting, whether it was working on a commissioned pet portrait or just working on more sketches. I would jump around with my approach, ( pencil sketch first then carefully layered watercolor, or jumping right in with washy gestures) but at least I always knew where to start.  This experience made me so much more comfortable working with the watercolor, as well as with the subject matter.  Now I'm going to try and apply this to portraits (people portraits) which is my first love.  I struggle with them, but I know it's because I want so much to be able to express my view. Hopefully committing to doing 30 portraits in 30 days will help me get closer!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Max the Red Toy Poodle

"Max the Red Toy Poodle"
6" x 6"

This little guy was a commission given as a house warming gift.  The client had a bunch of great reference photos for me to choose from, which I love.  This is actually based on two different photos belive it or not, a black and white for the pose and a color to get his coloring right.  Sometimes people think they don't have a good enough photo to paint from, but I actaully like some "not that great" photos better.  Like the commission I'm working on now, the photo is a tad of of focus, but that just helps to see the big shapes first, which helps the painting hold together better.

Here he is all framed up and ready to go:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

starting with the darks

Australian Shepard
8" x 5"

I've never been very good at working methodically, that is always using the same process to start a painting.  Sometimes I draw in the darkest areas and lines first, sometimes I block in the overall darks first.  Lately I've been starting with a pencil sketch, then going in with watercolor.  I'm finding that it's better to establish the overall pattern of light and dark first and then layer in the darker, and then darkest darks over that, so as to not disturb the layers underneath.  Now that I'm painting everyday, it's become easier to remember these things (that I should already know) and start the right way!  I never thought I had the discipline for the transparency of watercolor (acrylic and oil can always be covered or changed) but I think I may just learn yet...

Here is Day 56 (on top), Day 55 (underneath) and Day 54 (seen through the previous page):

Here is a look at the progression of this piece:

squares versus rectangles...

"not a deer"
8.25" x 5"

On Monday I started a new sketchbook.  I got down to business as usual, still continuing to paint a dog a day with The 100 Day project...but the book is a rectangle.  Luckily I found a rather tall-eared pup to paint to fill the space, but it's still a rather awkward composition.   The problem is that I don't really think about composition too much with these little painted sketchbook sketches, and it easier to fit thing in a square than a rectangle, I think.  I'm really just working on technique in these pieces and compositon is secondary.   Maybe this will force me to think about that as well... 

Here is the progression of this piece:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


As I continue on my 100 day project, I am falling into some sort of a rythym of more finished sketches and quicker, less resolved sketches.  But mostly I feel like I've been "resolving" or
"finishing" these sketches more than I should be, being "sketches" and all.... So, I have resorted to having a sketchbook for my sketchbook.  The past few days I have done quicker, looser, sketches in my big 9"x12" book, before I do the my daily painting in my 6" x 6" book.  I feel like I should be working bigger and on loose watercolor paper instead of in this tiny sketchbook.  However, I committed to doing 100 paintings in the same format, and I do think it is a good practice.  I am learning a lot about watercolor but also about how I like to work. 

6" x 6"

Syndey is a beautiful Great Dane that lives on the 39th floor of a high rise in Chicago.  I can't wait to do more paintings of her.  Her daddy, my newphew Paul, takes a lot of great photos of her so I have alot to work from.  

Here is a look at my process...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Clover and Sport

Clover and Sport
10.25" x 13"

This is the final of the painting I showed the sketch for yesterday.  I didn't end up submitting it to the show because I wasn't sure it was right.  I like parts of it, but it wasn't exactly how I envisioned it.  Part of me wishes I just entered it anyway...

Clover is my dog and Sport is Clover's (toy) dog.  Sport started out as my daughter's toy, but too much dog slobber and she willingly handed him over to Clover... he lovingly carrries that thing everywhere, and would never dare tear him apart.

Monday, June 8, 2015

working bigger

I am trying to start working bigger, slightly bigger anyway...

Clover and Sport, sketch
9" x 12"

I originally created this sketch as an idea for the "Possessions" exhibit at the Attleboro Arts Museum.  I liked the color and general gesture of the initial sketch but needed to go larger in order to incorporate the legs and the "Possession" (his stuffed dog, Sport).  Seeing how that was the point of the painting, that needed to be the focus.  Increasing the size of the paper to 10.25" x 13" helped but I still think it could use a little more breathing room, compositionally.

Next time I'm starting with a full sheet and cutting down once the painting is finished!

Monday, June 1, 2015

my process... my product(?)

So, I've been thinking a lot about process, and product, and if I have one and if so, what is it...

I have started a new project, #the100dayproject on Instagram. Ella Luna the author of The Crossroads of Should and Must prompted her followers to spend 100 days creating something, and post it on Instagram.  Every day in May, I have posted a photo of a painting in my sketchbook.  Some are more developed than others, but I mainly intended to let it be a place to experiment, and not have the pressure of a "finished" product.  Sometimes I prefer the works in progress to the ones that I develop more fully.

Sometimes I like the finished ones.

Today someone offered to buy the painting I did of their dog.  My question is, should I let this be a product, as in should I sell my sketchbook pages? or make prints of them? or just leave them be as my "process" and work on new separate pieces if someone is interested?

Overall, I have enjoyed the process of sticking with a single format (6" x6" sketchbook), medium (watercolor) and subject (dogs) for an extended amount of time...and that's good because I still have 69 days to go!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

One more Dash...

Okay, just more more of Dash...

"Dash, from above"
9" x 12"

And here is the process for this one...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dash, take 3

"Everyday is like Sunday"
8 1/4" x 9 3/4"

Way back in January, when I was doing the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge, I saw my old friend Melissa's photo of her Golden Retriever, Dash, and just HAD to paint it.  I fell in love with the pose and of course I'm a big sucker for Goldens...I painted twice in January, and just couldn't seem to capture what drew me to it in the first place.  I tried again this week, but I think the lesson here is that some photos are SO good as photos, that they don't make good watercolor paintings...

Monday, May 11, 2015

what's new in May...

Well, I have been MIA for a while, but very busy making art!  I have been dilligently fillling my sketchbook everyday and posting the painted sketches on Instagram, (you can follow me in Instagram @cindymcd)...

as well as working on some larger pieces that I will soon be listing on Daily Paintworks.com...

9" x 12"

Also, I am excited to announce that that I am now represented by the Walsingham Gallery in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  They have five of my dog paintings and I hope to receive some commisions through them as well.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


9" x 12"

This is not my golden, but he looks a lot like him!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

aye chihuahua!

"aye chihuahua!"
9" x 12"watercolor

I love this little guys attitude!  In hopes of keeping things fresh, I didn't add a background, in fear of losing some edges.  I'm liking the sketchy feel!  

Here is my Instagram post of this painting:

Here, colors are punched up with a filter, trying to accentuate the orange spine of the book I'm reading, "Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day" by Sam Bennett.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Schnauzer, complete

"Mini Schnauzer"6" x 6"watercolor

I've decided this one is done, but the more I look at it I think I'm done because I've overworked it, not because it is sucessful...  I really enjoyed painting this one, but its hard to find that edge between, fresh yet accurate and overworked but not quite right.  Oh well, just keep painting...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

progress, process

Today I painted a little schnauzer, and boy, did I enjoy the process.  It was just a picture I found, no expectations, no deadline. Just a cute face and a limited palette. 

I'm not quite done yet.  I need to adjust the pattern of lights and darks, and maybe add a little more color, but overall, I like it.

Here is it, with another dog-in-progress...

I really like the sketchy-ness of this larger one, and am being very tenative so as to not overwork it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

setting up to sell

I have decided to try out the "Daily Paintworks" auction function to sell my work.  I am not sure if I set it all up correctly, so this is somewhat of a test...

So today I'm listing this painting:

7" x 7"

Click the link below to go to the auction


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

and now for something new...

6" x 6"
walnut ink

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of going to the Worcester Art Museum to see their annual "Flora in Winter" Flower show.  What a nice change of scenery from all the snow around here!  The show takes it's name from one of the museums's sculptures of the same title.    I absolutley loved the floral arrangments inspired by the artwork (more to come on that later...) by I am always drawn to the busts.  When I used to teach children's art classes at the museum, I would always bring them into the galleries to see these beautiful sculptures.  Sometimes we would draw from them and  I always loved seeing the children's interpretations!  This was done from a photograph of a bust in the European Gallery.  I have it from a few differnent angels and so I think I'll do a few more of him.  I somehow managed to make him look a little older than he should be.  But, I am happy that I managed to get the reflected light in there. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Challenge Finale

"The Dogs of January"
30, or so, Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

Well, I may not have finished 30 complete paintings (I think I did 27, not all of which made the final cut...) but I certainly learned a lot about watercolor and started a good painting (nearly) everyday routine.  I hope to continue painting nearly everyday, though I am anxious to start different subjects, and eventually get back to acrylic.

Here is what I worked on yesterday...

I can't wait to get back to working from life, maybe more portraits, and I'm really liking ink washes right now.  So stay tuned to see what's next...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 29

4" x 6"

I'm realizing that if I want the colors to be bold in the final product, I need to start that way.  After I get everything where and how I want it, I don't like risking losing it in order to add color/depth/darks.  Oh, watercolor, I think I may need a break from you...