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Blurry backgrounds and complementary colours

June 1, 2011

I’ve finished my second coat on the background. I always make the mistake of painting the background last and then I have to touch up the foreground when I paint over the lines. I’m so eager to paint the main image that I skip a stage and end up regretting it later.

I think that it’s important to think carefully about your background in portraiture as it creates a sense of depth and space. The colours that you choose can enhance the subject and lead your eye towards specific focus points.  I’ve chosen green as it’s a complementary colour to the reds and orangey browns that I’ve used to paint the dog. 

I do this in a lot of my paintings as it makes the colours stand out, I also use it to highlight certain features.

complementary colours are colours that are opposite from each other.

Blue & orange

Red & green… you get the idea

I’ve tried to make the background look blurry, this is also a good trick in creating depth. I’ll be letting the paint dry a little longer before lightly brushing over with a feathered brush to merge the colours to create that ‘out of focus’ look.

Pet portrait painting

3 Comments leave one →
  1. theshedlight permalink
    June 2, 2011 9:10 am

    Hi there, nice post! The dog looks brilliant, you have really captured his character. Good advice about the background – I work in mixed media, and have started to create abstract backgrounds separately to match my subject matter, but it works in much the same way.

    • June 2, 2011 10:18 am

      Thanks! I tend to neglect the background a little, but I’m learning it’s about the painting as a whole. You work it well, I really like the Tui painting. Have you got a WP blog?

  2. theshedlight permalink
    December 20, 2011 2:48 am

    Hi there, thank you, a bit late in responding I’m afraid! Yes I have a WP blog here

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