Great Expectations, A Lesson Painting ~~ Kimberly Kelly Santini

It's been a long time since I did a lesson painting, and I thought these puppies were the perfect fit!

This 16" x 7" panel will ultimately star 8 Great Dane puppies. It is tentatively titled "Great Expectations," and is a fundraiser for Ohio Great Dane Rescue - if you are interested in purchasing it, speak up now and be first on the list!


I started with an underpainting - the puppys' skin is pink and warm, so I chose a brighter value of magenta. I placed very general guidelines on the panel to represent the placement of the puppies.


Next up came some local color to represent the negative space in the painting - yellows and lime green for the foreground, and darker greens for the background. See how the pink reads as orange when placed next to the other colors? There are some fantastic color vibrations happening, even at this early stage.


I began loosely placing the pups' forms, using a broad brush and unblended marks. I want to get a sense of their body volume and weight distribution, so that I can make necessary adjustments now. For instance, I am going to slide that pup in the lower corner up and back a bit, and the one center back row needs to be bigger. I can also tweak legs, bellies, ears and all that right now, before I've invested hours of work into the piece.


I continue sculpting the forms with my brush, and add additional layers to the back- and foregrounds. I'm not worried about local color (meaning the actual color of the dogs), but I am focusing on values and form. By doing this, I've started to highlight the pups' different markings/coloring without limiting my color choices, and unified the surface by scattering bits of similar color fragments across it.

Do you see the "X" in the composition created by the rumpled blanket in the foreground? and the "+" that anchors the center of the canvas? and how the dogs at each end bracket the others with their countered visual weight? these are key compositional elements that will make the finished piece far more than just cute little puppy faces.

Tonite's another late night painting session - let's see if I can't tie things up and share a completed "Great Expectations" with you tomorrow!

Thanks so much for sharing my art with your friends and family,

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