“When the working day is done”

A painting for the Cossack Art Awards 2024

“When the working day is done” Cruise and Diamond Pilbara Working Dogs.

This is my watercolour entry for the 2024 Cossack Art Awards. I usually paint the native flora and fauna, but decided this year to do what I do best, domestic animals, and so I went looking for an image, I found one on the “Pilbara Working Dogs” Facebook page and was drawn to this image, as its colours were great to reproduce with my own interpretation. I asked for, and obtained, permission to paint this image and found the dogs names were Diamond and Cruise.  I loved the simplicity of the image  along with the classic red dirt of the West Australian outback. 

initial sketch for Cossack Art Awards by Yvonne Chapman Brooks

The sketch was drawn using a grid of 4cm square, so made to fit a large frame, I wasn’t sure if I should use white or black framing at this point. 

I put in as much detail as I can then very carefully rub out the grid. 

Background done!

the background is in my classic style, using all the beautiful pindan colours of the outback. Australian Red gold (Art spectrum), Quinacridone Sienna (Daniel Smith,) and Dioxazine Purple (Windsor and Newton,) Lemon Yellow (Art Spectrum,) and Cadmium Yellow (Art Spectrum.) painted in large brush strokes then splattered with the paints to blend, and finally water to produce the lighter areas in the colour blocks.

Making a start on Diamond and Cruise

I loved the image as it has a definite warm and cool side, so I started with my blues and purples for the cool side first, Phthalo Blue (Art Spectrum), Dioxazine Purple (Windsor and Newton), Indigo ( Art Spectrum), are the main colours used, then as I moved to the warmer side I used Quinacridone Purple (Daniel Smith) with my Quinacridone Sienna  and Australian red gold to make a warmer brown tone, the lighter areas had a touch of the yellows in too. 

making a start blocking in the first dog

I block in the areas first with quite bold strokes allowing the paint to bleed and soften, gradually building up a couple of layers until there is definite soft structure to the dog, this is done using wet on wet, but not soaked paper.  that I can follow with my next layers. The lighter areas are just more dilute layers of colour.  

Blocking in watercolour by Yvonne Chapman Brooks

Once the first dog is blocked in I work on the second dog, same colours, same technique, leaving the eyes until last on the first dog… I always do the eyes last, it’s just a personal preference. 

Finishing Touches

In  this close up (Click the image to see an enlarged image) you can see the brush strokes and the different colours used, Some of the Quinacridone Purple is mixed with a little white gouache, and in some of the cooler light areas I have used a Light Cobalt (Windsor and Newton), and had to put in the Bengal Rose gouache (Windsor and Newton)  these can be lightened with a little white,  the Quinacridone Purple with the Light Cobalt  make a nice blue that will cover and blend the colours underneath, as the Light Cobalt is opaque when only slightly diluted. I use a fine Liner brush (or Rigger) number 1 or 2. 

In the warmer areas I use the liner brush with the yellows, the Red gold, and the Quinacridone Sienna,  to blend.

The eyes are completed last, I paint a layer of the Iris in the Australian Red Gold, then lift a little for the highlight area,  repeat another layer and then make a deeper brown, (by adding purple to my Red Gold)  to paint the shading in the Iris.  The Pupil is painted with almost neat indigo, leaving a small area for the highlight, which I paint with a mix of Phthalo Blue and purple mixed, then lift a bit off the blue/purple mix to leave a glassy eye look.  A dot of white gouache, and an outline of indigo and the eye is complete.

TIP: Mixing the Australian Red Gold, or the Quinacridone Sienna with the Dioxazine Purple, (or the Quinacridone Purple) make beautiful browns, more purple – the deeper the brown. 

With both dogs completed I used my background colours mixed with a tiny bit of white Gouache  to make details on the ground and to stop the dogs from “Floating” in the painting,  adding directional strokes helps. There is a little bit of Daniel Smith Phthalo Yellow Green  in there too. 

Click the image to see and enlarged image.

Final touch is a splash, quite literally, of Gold Alcohol Ink. I did use my draughtsman pen too, just to add some directional hair strokes. 

Wish me luck!