My Party Animal …

My latest painting is of Ruthie, our English Bulldog. She’s the Energizer Bunny of bulldogs. I painted her with Golden Heavy Body Acrylics using a #8 flat brush on US Art Supply 246 Lb. Acrylic paper primed with 2-3 coats of gesso. After painting her I liked her so much I glued her to an 8″x10″ birch panel.

I’ve been having so much fun with some online workshops* that are focused on a more impressionistic style of painting. Following tutorials on a variety of subjects, I’m learning to merge my more tight style of decorative painting with impressionistic brush strokes to give a sense of realism without painting each gazillion hairs of the fur with a 20/0 liner brush.

Here’s my process to glue Ruthie to a panel. I had ordered some birch cradled canvases from Dick Blick that are super nice for the price… Browse Them Here. These super value panels are available in 8×10 (pack of 5) or 11×14 (pack of 4) and are 3/4″ deep. Add a couple of coats of white gesso to them and they make a wonderful smooth painting surface that doesn’t need to be framed. I like the rigid wood panel to paint on much more than the spring of a stretched canvas panel. In the case of Ruthie, I cut my paper painting to 8×10 using a paper cutter. Apply some multi-surface sealer to the wood panel, paint the sides and the outer edges of the top with black acrylic (or whatever color you choose to accent your painting). When dry, apply a coat of Gloss or Matte Medium to the top of the panel. While wet, lightly spray the back of the paper painting with water, then lay it on the panel over the wet medium and press carefully into place lining up the edges. Use a rubber brayer to roll over the surface, working from middle out to the edges, to make sure there are no air bubbles. Wipe away any medium that smooshes out with a damp paper towel. Once the paper is smooth and firm to the surface, turn it over on top of a plastic grocery bag on a flat surface, weigh it down with books or something heavy, and let dry for 12-24 hours. Finish off with your choice of non-yellowing varnish.

Ruthie seemed to like her portrait and kept staring at it. Now I need to move on and paint our second bullie boy, Buster!


Surface to paint on
I painted Ruthie on 246 lb. acrylic paper by US Art Supply. I pre-primed it with 2 coats of white gesso, masked off an 8×10 area with blue painter’s tape, then toned the surface with magenta before starting to paint. I would recommend waiting to tape off until you are ready to paint. I had taped mine off 2-3 weeks ago, then found it was pulling a layer of gesso and paper off when I went to remove the tape. The taped off area gives a nice clean white ‘mat’ border to your painting which you could later frame in a traditional manner.

You can use any heavy art paper surface. I’ve just found they work much better if you prime with gesso first. Paper is much less expensive and often comes in a spiral bound pad which is nice to use for practice and organizing your work. I’ve been experimenting with different papers – from Arches 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper block, Canson’s 60 lb. XL Mixedmedia Paper, to the US Art Supply Acrylic Paper. Of these 3, so far I think I like the Canson XL Mixedmedia the best. It has a smooth texture and the painter’s tape came off easily. The watercolor paper has much more texture if you prefer that. Next I’m going to try the Canson’s Canva paper which is supposed to come pre-primed, so no gesso needed.

8×10 Blick Super Value Panel Packs
You can paint directly on this panel, just prep with 2-3 coats of white gesso first. This will provide a barrier to prevent any acids from the wood later affecting your paint (or paper if you are gluing it to the surface), although in this case I used 2 coats of clear multi-surface sealer instead.

Golden Heavy Body Acrylics
Titanium White
Raw Umber
Cadmium Yellow Light
Cadmium Orange
Primary Magenta
Ultramarine Blue

#8 Flat Synthetic Brush that can come to a nice chisel edge (1/2″-3/4″ wide)
#2 Round Brush – optional for whiskers or to sign your name

*I’ve been taking some workshops with Shelby Dillon and with Acrylic University, and I would recommend either of these for quality tutorials.

Affiliate Statement – This post includes some affiliate links. If you click on any of the links and make a purchase, I may receive a small stipend. This stipend in no way effects the amount you pay, it’s simply a payment to me for recommending products that I use.

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