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, 30 July 2012

Tollie and Bonnie - dog portrait in pastel

These two are now complete along with a hint of St. Cuthbert's cave in the background which I used to my advantage: I placed the lighter rock behind the Rottweiler/lurcher's dark head and the blackness of the cave opening behind the collie with the lighter fur. I used the shadow in the rock to contrast the lighter reflections on the top of Tolley's head so the background has served to enhance both dogs. The amount of pastel dust built up on the surfaces of my studio with this one has been epic and I'm desperate to get it framed so there's no chance of it smudging. I'm pleased with it though!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Tolley and Bonnie - Pastel dog portrait

This is the photograph I chose to base my latest commission on as I liked both dogs' stance. This pastel is a commission for a birthday present and as a memorial of these two friends, Tolley and Bonnie. After drawing the dogs onto Canson Mi Tientes pastel paper I started working from the top left corner, light colours first, to reduce the chance of smudging the soft pastels. I worked on Bonnie, the collie, first, noting the blue/greys and ginger/browns in her coat, highlighting the white fur and removing the blue bandage. I used a black pastel to mark out the entrance to St. Cuthbert's cave, a significant place for the owners of the dogs. After a couple of layers of pastel were applied and smudged in, I went over the top of the image with sharper pastel pencils to get the details right. Next I started work on Tolley, a Rottweiler/lurcher, blocking in the main areas of colour. Again I smudged in the base colours before concentrating on the detail. I added texture to the grass with lots of different shades of green. It's nearly finished but there are a number of details to correct and sharpen before I'll be completely happy to sign it off. The trouble with pastel colour is that it moves, and if the face is small, one speck of pastel dust can change the whole expression. It does, however, really lend itself to the wispy fur of a collie.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Jack Russell Border Terrier Cross

This little chap is called Junior, he's a jack russell border terrier cross and is very playful. I had a number of photos to choose from and his owner wanted me to include his favourite blue ball which he rests his paw on - cute! The sandy golden background was painted first on a box canvas size 16x20". When it was dry I sketched his shape. I did a number of sketches prior to this to get the composition to work. Next I blocked in the main areas of white and brown and got a bit carried away with the shading as I had some paints left on my palette from a previous commission so forgot to take photos of those stages. So here we are in the first picture with a floating dog! I set about painting a few shadows on his coat and also around him. Next, his eyes got the detail treatment and highlights and shadows were painted in. I used blue and purple on his white bits and warmer browns in the shadows. I also painted the edges of this box canvas dark brown which you can't see in the photo but kind of frames it.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Eddie the tabby-cat lives on

Eddie is now finished as I decided at the end to remove the fur you can see above his head and back, due to the angle the photo was taken, as it was distracting me. I hope you agree. His fur has an amazing array of colours ranging from terracotta oranges and bright yellows to earthy browns, greys and blues. Following on from the last blog, the painting moved from main blocks of colour to breaking up the blocks with different shades of brown applied with a short round bristle brush. I broke up the black stripes with cream, yellow and browns, then broke up the lights and whites with shades of umber and other dark browns. This process happened a number of times until I was happy with the density of the fur, making sure the markings were still true to the photograph. You can see on the second picture up how the dark markings on his head have almost completely disappeared by breaking up the blacks and in the next photo the darks have been painted back in. This process gives the fur depth and a sense of fluffiness. Finally attention was given to his eyes, nose and other details. His gorgeous white whiskers were painted and the canvas signed off. Magnificent!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Three Collies Finished

Following on from the blog before last, these three collies have been transformed from right to left. Tess was already nearly finished but the other two needed many more layers of texture painted into their coats by using different colours (mainly blue, brown and green) and then painting thin layers of black or white paint over the top to knock back the colours. Using various fine brushes, I painted more detail on the eyes, mouths and noses; added the tags on their collars. I scrutinised the photos to make sure their markings were in the right places before finally adding whiskers and fine hairs with a rigger brush. The final photograph will be on my website in a few days.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

An ode to Eddie the tough-looking tabby

Eddie looks like a bouncer cat - apparently he was fearsome in his time, stalking the neighbourhood with his 'don't mess wiv me' face on. Sadly he's no longer the Godfather of his neighbourhood and his owners wanted him immortalised on canvas. I picked one of the photos of him in his prime to base my portrait on and started by painting a 16 x 20" deep-edged box canvas in yellow-ochre, raw umber and Paynes grey. After that had dried I sketched him in place, making his head the main focus and trying to capture that 'are you talkin to me?' look. I painted his eyes then started carefully applying texture paste to the white areas first, and then mixed with mars black and Paynes grey for the darker areas. I let it dry then started to layer up speckled areas of burnt sienna, raw umber and yellow ochre with my trusty old round hog hair brush. What I call the underlayer is now complete, ready for more refined detail. Keep watching, I've got a few on my easel at once at the mo, rotating to dry out!

Take three Collies

I'm working on a number of commissions at the moment, hence the gap in blog updates, but some of them are at a similar stage now so they will arrive in a flurry, or like buses: all at once! These three lovely collies all live in the same family: Megan, in the photos above, is the eldest and as the matriarch takes pride of place in the centre of the portrait; Meg has her ears pricked  up and Tess looks more laid back with her ears down. I started by painting the canvas board with a mixture of yellow ochre, burnt sienna and raw umber just to 'kill the white' as Rolf Harris puts it. Then I sketched an outline of the dogs over the top and started applying white texture paste to the white areas of the dogs. I was in the mood to do more of the detail so carried on mixing my texture paint with some mars black and carried on painting Tess. I painted their eyes and mouths in roughly to establish their place on the canvas and let the layers dry. In the next two stages I worked on all three dogs at once, adding more layers of paint and texture and letting it dry ready to build more colours into their coats. Keep watching...!