After several ideas that didn't go anywhere, I ran across a nice photo of my beautiful dog, now in doggie heaven, Daisy. So I decided to do a classic style portrait with a rich red background.
I started by making a textured surface which is a piece of hardboard that I sealed with primer. Next, I applied a coat of thick molding paste, mostly in the areas where Daisy would not be. I mushed the molding paste around with my fingers and torn edges of cardboard until I was happy with it. Finally, I toned it with thinned burnt Sienna. I wanted it to have an old world feel.
I finished my first day's painting session by blocking in some of the main colors. And, of course I couldn't resist beginning to paint the eyes and nose. I'm off to a good start. But then I find that the starts always look the best as they leave so much to the imagination.