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
This lovely collie-cross, Bess, has sadly passed away but her memory will live on in this latest commission. Painted in acrylic on board, I first worked on the background before blocking in the main colours. After making sure her markings were in the right place I deepened the shadows and added other layers of colour to build texture so she looks lovely and fluffy. She'll look great in a frame.
Following on from the last post and having made a solid tonal under-painting, I have started adding colour! I've had to make it up, starting with hair and skin tone and painting thin glazes of colour in layers so the structure of the shadows was not lost. I painted the dress a lovely cornflower blue, added extra shadows then applied a slightly thicker glaze to unite the shadows, but there's much more work yet to be done on the dress. Next I concentrated on the face and hair: I corrected the eyes which were slanting up a bit too much and introduced glazes of burnt sienna and raw umber to deepen the shadows. Her hair has many different shades of brown, red, blond, white and even pink! I added more browns, blues and white to the background to give it more depth and then when I was happy with it I was able to give her some more hair. Painting hair over the top of a background makes it look more natural, if you paint it the other way around the background doesn't look like it's disappearing behind and edges appear too harsh. The last thing I painted was her diamanté necklace. I still need to finish her dress, hands and hair so keep watching!
My next commission is for this lady's 70th birthday as a gift from her husband. It's a bit of a challenge as I have these two black and white photos and some very small photos taken in colour years ago. I am having to turn this into a colour portrait with very little colour reference but I love a challenge! I even decided to merge the two photos as her face on the larger photo has a little bit more detail to work with. I started by creating a tonal under-painting in paynes grey in order to get the structure right, making sure the shadows and shapes were in the correct places. I didn't get her right eye quite right but that can be corrected when I paint the colour. This is acrylic on an A1 size board so the background took some painting! I merged black with white, ultramarine blue and red. I'm going to paint her dress blue so I want the background to echo these colours and in doing so create cohesion within the painting. I will probably add more brown at a later stage or change the background all together if it doesn't work.
Tabatha has finally got her whiskers! Happily her coat has transformed from the last entry's blocks of fur to wild fluffiness. I flicked a wild concoction of colours into her coat using an old synthetic brush that separates when wet and kept building up layers of tabbiness. Her coat in real life may actually contain more grey, as some photos indicate, but because I've painted the surrounding colour red, I added much more warmth into her coat to reflect this. The red also contrasts well with the green of her eyes and I wanted them to stand out the most. The last thing I painted in were her whiskers (the trickiest bit!). She has incredibly long white ones that curl in all sorts of directions and one single white whisker over her left eye which is very cute. I think she's gorgeous!
This beautiful tabby cat is the subject of my next commission: an acrylic portrait on a square box canvas. I sketched her face onto the canvas and painted the background red as requested by the doting owner. I started with her eyes and nose, she has an amazing amount of different shades of green in those dazzlers! I painted black, burnt sienna and raw umber in the dark areas of her coat and used flesh tint, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow and white in the lighter areas, making sure I was putting her markings in the right places. After this first layer was completed I decided the fur on her back was too high so painted more of the background. There's still a lot more to do and those white whiskers are going to be a challenge but keep watching!
This is George, a cute and lively looking jack russell painted in pastel on A4 pastel paper. I sketched his face and front paws in portrait format and applied the first white layer of pastel. Then I worked from the top left downwards with black to avoid smudging and worked some of the shadows into the white of his coat. I added shadows underneath his paws to 'ground' him and layered purple and brown into the black areas of his coat to make it denser. Finally I tightened up on detail adding white flecks around his eyes with a very sharp pastel pencil, balancing the shadows and putting that little sparkle of life into his eyes!
I am happy that Otto is now complete. These last four stages test your ability to spot-the-difference as nothing much looks like it changes at this level, especially when the photos are small, but the main difference was painting Otto's right paw. I thought it was a pebble and then when I looked at the portrait from a distance I realised he was a little imbalanced! I thought his right paw was underneath him but decided to paint it in. The majority of other changes have been made to the detail on the fur. I painted in lots of different shades of black, grey, white, blue and brown but struggled with my brushes. As Otto has lots of long, fine, wiggly hair I found that none of my usual trusty synthetics worked as they either didn't separate enough, couldn't hold enough paint or weren't fine enough. I even chopped down an old hog hair brush but it didn't give me the precision I needed. Eventually I raided my expensive watercolour sables and used a rigger that did the job perfectly and thankfully seems to have survived. Lastly, more pinks, reds, purples and browns were scumbled onto his mouth for depth, the white fur on his muzzle painted over the top, extra definition added to the eyes and Otto looks like he's about to leap out of the canvas!