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

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Horse Portrait - Saffie

This is another Christmas portrait of a beautiful horse called 'Saffie'. There were a number of fabulous photos to choose from but I particularly liked the way we're being given the eye in this shot! The medium is acrylic on board size 18 x 24". I started by painting the whole background in a suggestion of outdoor natural colours but nothing too detailed or specific. After that layer had dried overnight I sketched the horse over the top. Next I painted in blocks of colours, quite thinly at first, as my plan was to make the back of the horse fade into the background whilst still looking solid. I put in areas of strong tonal value next to ensure the balance of the painting before filling in the mid tones. There are some lovely warm areas of burnt sienna on the muzzle and flank so I emphasised these and made sure the areas of shadow were dark enough. Finally I took my favourite sword liner brush and swept in those lovely fine hairs that make up the frizzy fringe, mane and whiskers. I took a very old small round, stippled in some fine dark and light lines to show the slightly longer hairs on the bridge of the nose and I'm thinking Saffie is complete.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Dog Portrait of Nina

It's always lovely to be recommended and this latest commission has come off the back of the portrait of the two jack russells. This is Nina and I sketched her head on cream paper, size 6 x 9". I blocked in the warm browns and oranges first before adding in a little blue to the highlighted areas. Then I added solid black to the shadows and blended it the best I could with my finger. For the rest of the process I used the pastel pencil tips to blend the colours as my finger is bit of a blunt tool when working this small! I used blues and yellow in the highlights, smudging it with white and grey pencils, and I used a deep burgundy brown as well as black in the darker shadows. I decided not to take the picture right to the edge but to fade out the body so the emphasis stays on the face.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Hound and Hare Pastel Portrait

This latest commission of a dog and hare is for a Christmas gift. Magic was a lurcher/saluki collie cross and as the photos supplied didn't show her back legs I sourced other photos and the customer told me she had a white tip to her tail which matches her white socks and bib - very smart! I always struggle with the amount of available daylight at this time of year and in my haste to maximize the light I've only remembered to take a couple of photos to show the stages. Still, I started by cutting some Canson Mi-Tientes pastel paper to size and sketched a bit of Magic (ha ha geddit?!). I blocked in some of the lighter colours, working on white bits, the tongue and the grass colours. Then using a blue pastel I marked out areas on the face as this was the mid-tone on the head. Black fur can look very lifeless if just painted black and as it often reflects the colours around it I chose blue to suggest outdoor light. I worked more detail into the head, blocking in the shadowy areas with black and blending with the blue. The reflective light on the nose I blended with white and grey and put a touch of warm brown into some of the shadows. The hare has some warm browns, yellows and oranges in its coat to contrast with the blue/black of Magic. I blended these together using whites, creams and greys, placing black and dark brown into the shadows around it. I added more colours into the grass, you wouldn't believe how many different shades of green, blue, yellow, brown and cream you need to flick about! I wanted to keep the grass to a minimum, using the texture to link the two animals and leaving the paper blank behind the dog to give her focus and poise. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Horse Pastel Portrait

My latest commission is another that has been in my order book for a while and was originally going to be a horse and rider as a gift to the lady who rides the horse, from her husband. Photos were sent through of the horse, William, on his own to be set within the local countryside. Firstly I cut the Murano pastel paper to just over 18 x 14" and sketched the outline of the horse and countryside behind. I blocked in the background colours concentrating on the form and colour of the farthest treeline from the top left to reduce the chances of smudging. I used a lot of blue in the shadows to create the illusion of perspective. As I got nearer to the foreground I started to introduce brighter, warmer coloured pastels and introduced black, brown and purple into the shadows. Next I blocked in the main body of the horse with a burnt sienna pastel and smudged it to get rid of the paper colour underneath. I created the form and muscle structure of the horse by carefully observing the colour variations where the light hits his coat. There is a surprising amount of blue and purple as well as a wide range of browns, yellows and peachy hues. I sharpened some pastel pencils to create the detail in his face which took a whole  sitting as I used the pencil tips to carefully blend each colour for accuracy. When I was completely happy with William's face I added more subtle colours to his body before finally moving down to the detail in the field and his legs and feet. I've kept the background colours subtle and light so the horse stands out well from his surroundings. I hope I've captured him!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Frankie the family cat

This is Frankie, a beautiful cat who doesn't smile much... Many months ago I was commissioned through my website to paint Frankie for a birthday present. It turned out that the gentleman who commissioned me is my husband's, father's cousin who while looking for a gift for his wife, came across my site and wondered, with an unusual name like Tugwell, whether we were related. We met at their house and took photos of Frankie: Chester with his super duper camera and me with my little Canon G9, but Frankie was not impressed. The supermodel pose did not happen and although we got lots of lovely detailed shots and had a lovely time, Frankie looked stressed out with the whole 'say cheese for the camera' ordeal and we left knowing that we'd not seen him at his best. Caroline promised to send a photo through as soon as she could catch him on a good day. A few months passed and finally Frankie smiled - it's not a grin, but it's not a grimace either. I had pre-prepared an oval board which I got cut in order to match another portrait they had in their home, triple gessoed it and painted the background. Despite that, for some reason the paint I use just did not want to behave on this surface. It has taken me months to apply layers of paint with a tiny rigger, almost in an egg tempura style, in order the make the fur look real enough as the paint was just sliding around. However, his whiskers went on today and I'm happy that Frankie is finally finished, so I'm smiling too! I have a frame pre-ordered and waiting at my framer's so at long last (and I'm ashamed to say this is the longest time I've ever taken to complete a commission) Caroline will get her birthday present.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Wedding Portrait

Having finished this portrait of a wedding day, the couple wanted to include their beloved dog in the picture too, which works well and finishes the portrait off perfectly! This large pastel has been lightly fixed and is now ready to be framed.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Family Portrait - Mr. Rebry

These pictures represent quite a few hours of work but at a glance they don't seem to change much and it's a bit like a game of spot-the-difference. Firstly you may have spotted the addition of pinstripes from the previous blog entry. These were painted with a fine rigger. I mixed a good quantity of mid-grey to ensure the pinstripe colour stayed consistant across the suit but lightly sketched each stripe with a pencil before committing paint to canvas. This was essential to get right as each stripe would have to follow the contours of the fabric, any misplaced lines would essentially change the shape of the jacket. Next I painted the shadows and highlights on the jacket over the top of the pinstripes. In some places I repainted the pinstripes and in some shadow areas I let them fade out. Then my attention turned back to the hands and face, carefully adding tonal values and details like the creases in the skin, individual hairs and the twinkle in his eye! This portrait is now ready to take pride of place in a  family home in Belgium.

Monday, 17 September 2012

A Family Portrait - Mr. Rebry

These photos are the basis for a large high detailed acrylic portrait to be ready for a family gathering in Belgium at the beginning of next month. I have been working on it for a while and moved it on a lot in the last month. Having been even more inspired by a visit to the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery and the Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition at Tate Britain this weekend (well worth a visit if you get the chance) I have set too with even more vigour! The portrait was started by sketching the body of Mr. Rebry from one photo and borrowing the head from another for the preferred expression. I made an under-painting using Paynes grey before building up layers of different colours for the skin tones. At this point he looked very bright and patchy! By painting the background to get rid of the luminous expanse of white, the face looked less vivid and so I started painting darker colours onto the jacket. It was requested that the background be painted cream so using the greys and browns underneath I started to scumble yellowy creams over the top with some of the under-painting showing through, but I didn't like the contrast so painted another layer of warmer browns and greys over the top. After I think it was the fifth layer and having obliterated the line of his hand and jacket I decided to leave the background and concentrate on building up the painting in other areas. The face and hands went through the usual scary process from bright colours to unifying blandness and back again, each time with more detail added to build up the translucent qualities of skin. There are many more layers of paint to be applied which make all the difference to the finished portrait but these subtle changes aren't so apparent in photos so I'll leave it here for now. Keep watching - this week is dedicated purely to this portrait!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Two White Jack Russells

These two little scoundrels are Katy and Anni - a pair of very cute jack russells who are getting the pastel treatment on 12 x 16" beige pastel paper. Although it may not appear so on screen, this original photo is actually out of focus, but as it's so full of life I used other photos to obtain further details. I drew them closer together and blocked in the light areas with a large white soft pastel. Then I added dark grey and purple to the shadows on their coats and blended it all together. Pinks were drawn into the ears, eyes and tongue before applying the dark colours using pastel pencils for the finer detail work. I used browns, purples and black in a couple of layers, blending the colours with the pencils themselves to keep the  work sharp. By this stage they were taking shape but looked like they were floating so I grounded them with shadows on the grass. Initially I was just going to hint at bits of grass around their paws but it looked a bit odd so I put more greens, browns and yellows on the background. I refined the shadows by adding more purple and put more blue into their coats and Anni's blue eye. A few more refinements to the details and shadows and the portrait is now complete.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

King Charles Spaniel Portrait

This is a wee portrait of Georgie commissioned on a 6 x 9" canvas board in high detail acrylic. I took this one away with me on holiday as it was easier to transport than some of my other bulkier commissions and when the rain poured (it's Wales - of course it poured!) I could tinker away with my paintbrush. I started by painting the background and decided on a natural blue/green to complement the orangey/browns of Georgie's eyebrows. I sketched the outlines on the canvas and applied texture paste to the white fur and mixed Payne's grey with texture paste for the ears. When that had set I started blocking in the main colours and spent quite a bit of time getting the eyes and nose details right. I'm not sure if it was the Welsh rain or or the canvas surface but my paints were misbehaving and just didn't want to stick. So with a bit of perseverance and a few thick paint layers later I managed to make the portrait take shape. Yellows and mauves were painted into the white areas, browns and deep blues into the blacks to bring them to life before knocking back the colours and toning them down. The top layers of paint were applied with a fine rigger for the single hairs and whiskers, and a tiny scrappy old synthetic brush whose bristles separate for great detailed strokes to the fur. With a large mount and frame surround this little portrait will look gorgeous!