Welcome to my pet and family portrait blog. If you have commissioned a portrait you can see how it is progressing. If you would like to commission me to paint your pet, family or friend then visit my site at www.katetugwellportraits.com
Fancy learning how to draw and paint? See my art classes website at www.katesartclasses.com

Monday, 16 March 2015

Jess (aka Squeaky!) portrait of a black cat

Jess was looking a bit too orange so I put glazes of blues and greys into her coat and over the cloth followed by more yellows and oranges. Finally I went into the detail with a fine rigger brush and painted in fine hairs where the light would catch them and the whiskers, including that single trademark white one!  

Monday, 9 March 2015

Jess (aka Squeaky!) - acrylic painting

The commission on my easel at the moment is of a cat called Jess, nicknamed 'Squeaky' for very obvious reasons when you see a video of her. The painting is a 12 x 16" acrylic on a box canvas to go alongside another commission I painted a few years ago of Eddie who had the same staff! Sadly, both cats are no longer around but I hope to capture their characters on canvas. The best photos of Jess were landscape rather than portrait but as the canvases are the same size they should work quite well on the wall together. I started by drawing the details I could see of Jess onto the canvas, making sure her head was a similar size to Eddie's. I then applied texture paste and let it dry overnight. Next I started to paint in the darkest areas and put cool greys and blues into the background and shadows. In order to tie the two portraits together I want to use the same colour as Eddie's eyes but apart from my photographic reference, I have no recollection of the exact colour mix. I experimented with various mixes of browns and oranges and worked them across the image and around the edges, then I painted the eyes and also used yellows in the coat and on the material. From then on I concentrated on the layers of the fur which have been made up of various glazes of burnt umber, yellow ochre, flesh tint, black, orange, lemon yellow and white. The painting is not yet finished but in the last stage of this post I added white to the fur and the material and I've started to paint the smaller details of her eyes. I have also played about with the tones in the background to make her head stand out and create depth. She's nearly there and the the final flourish will be her single white whisker which I will steal myself to do...

Thursday, 5 March 2015

New Art Studio!

I moved into my new art studio this week - the outhouse is no longer a ramshackle old shed with creepers growing through the walls but a beautifully lit, warm space for me to work in!! I'm so chuffed, I have a new (old) oak plan chest bought from Ebay and restored by my stepbrother, two new easels and a huge canvas bought from a local antiques store and a little unit of baskets bought as a gift from my husband on Valentine's Day! There's a butler sink in the corner with hot water from the house, a mezzanine for storage and an ancient fruit ladder to get up to it. My old sound system is installed to play Radio 6 while I work, the phone signals and wifi just about reach and a new doorbell alerts me to anyone arriving at the house. I just need the electrician to install outside lights, security and a pendant lamp, the outside walls and paving need tidying up, some storage, a new table and I'm sorted. How lucky am I. I've been painting my latest commission in there and planning my Portrait Course into the evening and I think it's lovely. The cat's not so sure yet...

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Mwinga - oil portrait

Following on from the previous post, I have been applying glazes to Mwinga's skin tones to create depth. I was fairly happy with his expression and the features were about right but the portrait looked flat and the background needed knocking back for a more classical approach. I covered the whole canvas firstly with burnt umber and carefully lifted out the highlights. This glaze gave him a warm undertone and unified the background. I also remodelled the T-shirt as it looked a bit muddy round the edges! After leaving the glaze to dry I brought out the highlights again, brightened the teeth and eyes and corrected a few shapes. The next few glazes make all the difference in creating a 3-D effect on the canvas but don't show up well in the photos so I haven't included all of the stages. Yellow ochre, indian red, raw umber and paynes grey have all been worked in and lifted out in places. The painting has gradually gone darker in order for Mwinga to pull out of the shadows.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Fanhams Hall in Hertfordshire for a Wedding Gift

This Jacobean manor in Hertfordshire is a beautiful venue for weddings and an oil painting has been commissioned as a gift for a couple getting married there in January 2015. There are a lot of windows to paint in this one which I carefully drew to start with on A3 sized primed canvas board. I painted the sky first, then the following day when it had dried a little I added the rooftops and shadow areas and applied a light wash of yellow ochre across the whole building. Next was the daunting task of painting all those windows which I did in three sittings using my tiniest brush and thinned black paint. After leaving the windows to dry I worked on painting the shadows and drains on the building and breaking up the black windows with curtains and a few reflections. At the next sitting I mixed up a load of greens and although I had hoped to be looser with the garden area, it still needs careful painting as it contains structure and formality. The top picture shows the finished painting.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Margo - a pastel portrait just in time for Christmas!

This is a cheeky little pastel portrait just in time for Christmas! It is A4 in size and is in soft pastel on grey Daler Rowney Ingres Pastel Paper, chosen to highlight the light and darker areas of the dog. I marked out the main areas of white, then added brown and ginger colours and blended it all together. Next I worked into the dark areas with black and a variety of browns and greys taking care to smudge the pastel into the lighter areas where texture was needed, but not overlapping into areas around the eyes and nose. I roughly marked in some background shapes using brown, black, yellows and greys and merged them too. With the base layers in place I was able to paint in more detail, firstly to the background foliage and then to the coat. I flicked white across from the highlights on the legs into the background to convey wet fur and finally added a few white hairs around Margo's eyes as the owner wanted her to look a little older. She looks ready to pounce!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

One Man and His Dog - Pastel Portrait

This is a Christmas commission painted in pastel. The size is A3 and I decided to work from a mid-tone brown as some of the background is to be be included. I sketched a detailed drawing onto Daler Rowney Ingres Pastel Paper as I decided the lines in the jumper and other details would be easier to draw with a pencil than with a pastel. However, working at this size, rather than blocking in with larger pastels, as I usually do, I filled in areas of tone with pastel pencils as the shapes are small to start with. I picked out a selection of greens, blues, creams and browns and blended each colour into the background with a cotton bud and the edge of my fingers so as not to move the colour around too much. I built up more detail and increased the opacity, building up the picture as a whole. The faces, hands and chain were particularly fiddly so pastel dust was dotted on with sharpened pastel pencils and in the latter stages, I blend using the pencil tip of a lighter colour before going back into the detail with darker colours. I'm nearly there, just another few hours tomorrow and it should be finished.... The top pic shows it finished!