What I Learned Painting the Little Dove

The Story Behind the Painting:

She was a dove – literally, a muse with the last name Dover.

I was first introduced to the incomparable Ali Dover Photography and her beautiful little model through Instagram {@alidover}. One day, there she was staring out at me with those deep penetrating eyes – it was like the painting had already painted itself.

On My Palette:

  • Titanium White
  • Naples Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow (not necessary though)
  • Permanent Red (this color in the Lukas brand is very pink)
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Earth
  • Burnt Umber

Basic Mixes: Skin & Hair

I always start out the skin mix with a base of titanium white, Naples yellow, and permanent red. Then I make a few more mixes from the base. To get a nice mix for the hair, I used the burnt umber and a bit of the cobalt blue.

Lesson #1:

Remember how I said that the photograph stopped me in my tracks? That’s because it was a fabulous photo (again, props to @alidover on Instagram – share the love and check her profile out). If you can work from life, excellent! Do it. If you are a crazy busy person (my husband would say “crazy, busy person”) who is trying to run a business, homeschool, teach art classes, and only have an hour a day to paint, then photographs are the more realistic option. So, make them gorgeously good or get someone who’ll make them gorgeously good for you.

Lesson #2: Chiaroscuro

I could give you a fancy pronunciation thingy, but I’ve made it simple: CHE -ARE -O -SCUR -O. (Oooh, I just love how it rolls off the tongue especially if you say it with a sexy Italian accent because you are a sexy Italian man saying it.) And just as simply, it means light-dark. It’s an old technique that the masters used to create bold contrasts. You can see how putting in some dramatic darks really makes the face pop. Also, I enjoyed the effect of the hair fading into the background.

Lesson #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

The first part of this lesson is ‘don’t steal people’s stuff’. Come on, be better than that. I know asking is hard because you have to open yourself up to rejection, but you know what? People are awesome (most of the time) and every person I’ve ever asked for permission to paint from their photos has said yes. I’m learning that the more I ask, the easier it gets.