These wonderful animal doodlewashes are today’s gift from Annette Bennett, in Fredericksburg, Texas (follow her WordPress blog here!). She’s a true Texan who was born in Dallas, and raised in Houston. Now “living and loving it” in a town of 10,000 in the Texas Hill Country.
After working in the cattle industry for 5 years, Annette returned to Houston for her second and third careers. When she retired, her mother suggested that she take up painting. “My mother was a painter,” she says, “and my brother John is a bronze sculptor who owns Agave Gallery in Fredericksburg. I took lessons from a renowned painter in Lake Jackson, Julia Crainer, for a year and discovered that I really enjoyed painting and using my creative nature. I love returning to my ‘roots’ by painting cowboys, old trucks and livestock.”
Annette doesn’t like to paint backgrounds – so most of her paintings tend to be very simplified, or just a wash of color. I like the image of the animal to be bold and take up most of the page. She’s most inspired by capturing an animal with expression or emotion and transferring that to her painting.
To prepare for her paintings, Annette starts by taking “a gazillion pictures with my continuous shot camera.” She’s found that animals move around so much that you just can’t catch the perfect shot with anything else. Next, she spends time at the computer.
“I am ruthless in deleting those images that are not what excites me,” she says “I usually end up with 5-10 pictures out of 1200. I also use my computer to enhance the lighting and shadows. I like to have shadows and light to give the image more depth and life. Then, I print out the image on my home office printer in color.”
Annette says, “I am not a purest – as you will see. I CAN draw – but I don’t like to – I am always wanting to be painting. So, I use a light box to trace the image I photographed onto Bristol smooth surface paper. I use this to make my value sketch and map out 3 values, using a Tombow water-soluble ink pen.”
“Once I am happy with the value sketch, I decide how big I want to make the painting and enlarge the original picture if necessary. Then, again, using the light box, trace the image, mostly outline, onto the proper size watercolor paper. I then follow the value sketch to pencil in the light and dark areas.”
“I wet my paper front and back, blot the front, then tape the edges to a sheet of Plexiglas. When I am painting, I use a nice stand up easel and tape up both the original picture and value sketch so I can see them while working on the painting.” She only uses transparent watercolors on 140 pound bright white cold press paper, Kilimanjaro or Arches. As for her brushes, she uses a Round Silver Brush Black Velvet. “They hold lots of water, and are not too pricey and seem to last great!”
Annette took a class from Ken Hosmer and has incorporated many of his techniques. Ken likes to paint his darks first. He also varies, warmer and cooler in the same area. You use one color and then the color on either side of that one to create more interest. “I like to try to use colors from around the wheel in a finished painting. You’ll see I added the turquoise on the sunny ear of the lab – and have a green background. All of which make his eyes stand out.”
Be sure to follow Annette’s blog as well as keeping up-to-date with her work on Facebook and Twitter. Also, her paintings are available to purchase in her two Etsy shops, here and here! Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful paintings and your process with us Annette! We can’t wait to see more!