This will be about my views on what it takes to put a three dimensional world onto a two dimensional surface. With a lot of digressing.
Don't forget to leave a comment, or a question if you have one, below the post. Thanks.


Sep 7, 2009


This started out to be on an 18x24 linen that I stretched and triple primed. But a few minutes after starting I realized that I wanted the head to be smaller,closer to life size, and switched to a 14x18 pre-stretched and pre-primed linen from Fredrix. Since I am forced to get my art supplies online and can't see them first, there will be an occasional disappointment. In this case the linen weave was not square, a very obvious downhill slant. Which can be corrected to a point by sanding and a few more coats of gesso. But I wanted to start, and got lazy.
Live and learn? Never happens.
EM 18x14 Stage 1
This is from a photo I took, which I prefer if at all possible. Once I bring it into Photoshop, I'm able to crop and compose and experiment with the values. I also like to convert the photo to greys for a better idea of the composition. You can do all of that in any simple photo software.
I did the initial drawing in watercolor pencil, then went over that with thinned black acrylic. When that was dry the the pencil drawing was washed off and a transparent acrylic wash of burnt sienna brushed over the face, and wiped down. I then mixed burnt sienna with cerulean blue and laid in the darks with a thin wash, except for the face.

EM Stage 2
My initial intention was to do a thin underpainting in acrylic as a basis for an oil painting. As usual, and instead, I let the painting tell me what to do as I went along. So I washed some more color on the face, and went back in with an opaque white. I usually use gesso instead of titanium so that the paint won't build up too early. If the acrylic paint becomes thick and shiny the application of oil paint over the acrylic becomes, I think, structurally problematical and harder to work on.

I always use the fluid acrylics, and thin with water. (distilled is best if you have a well)

If I need to thin the paint extensively, I add some polymer medium.
I can see that I'm going to have to make sure the raccoon (?) collar on the coat does not get confused with her hair. And vice versa.

EM 18x14 (c) Margery Caggiano

To counteract the orange in the skin tones I added a little ultramarine blue to the mix, and lightened the shadow side. Did a little re-drawing here and there if I was losing the shapes. Except for lightening the fur on the collar somewhat, I'll leave it til last, and after the hair is done. I gave the background another coat of gesso, and partially covered the lines that were drawn on the arms. I'm playing with the idea of leaving as is, the black and white thing that's going on. Sometimes less is more..... To be continued


  1. Fantastic!
    You get better and better...and I ought to know.

  2. Raccoon?
    Ha that's all fake :)
    This looks amazing, as does everything you do.

  3. Thanks Bobbie, yeah, a lot of history there..
    And Emily, just so you know I didn't title the painting Emily because I did a puppy painting named Emily.
    Fake raccoon? I thought I saw it move.

  4. It is just great to see your progression. the painting is beautiful. I have not been working in acrylic that long but I never thought of getting fluid acrylics. You mentioned Golden. I really thank you for all your information, you are very generous and it is very helpful. Thank you, Jeanne

  5. Thanks, and I'm glad I'm able to help. If you can; think of acrylics as being closer to watercolor or gouache than oil.Putting acrylics in tubes with all kinds of additives has discouraged a lot of efforts to use them as a medium akin to oils.They ain't.
    Golden has a ton of information on their website.