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

Friday, 27 January 2012

Two Black Labradors

These two lovely black labradors are now finished. Following on from the previous post the painting entered what I like to call cheerily the 'wrecking phase'. Having established a half decent under-painting the next stage is to add lots of different colour tints that add depth to the final painting. Shades of browns, reds, greens, yellows and white were painted on the background being careful to continue the colours across the canvas. This inevitably means painting over the dogs so the painting gets really messy. Reds and blue were added to the dogs' coats then black and white is added with precision to bring back the correct tonal values. Finally, detail gets added to the foreground and the chewed up log and the final touches of blue, black and white scumbled across the fur to create texture where the light hits it. I finished each stage in the dark this week as it was a tight deadline so the photos were taken in the dark. I'll take a decent one tomorrow in the light to add to my website gallery.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Two Black Labradors

Jet and Ollie, two tinsel-clad Labradors are now on the easel (not literally - my little cat would vamoosh in an instant!). They are being painted on a 12 x 16" artboard but without the festive collars - shame. Their shapes were difficult to put into a pleasing composition, I sketched them the other way around to start with, Jet, sitting down, was on the right. But I decided to swap them back especially as the obligatory log that they like to carry with them on their walk had to be included. I lay down a basic wash of browns in the background, waited for it to dry and started blocking in the shadows and highlights on the dogs. As I've said before, black animals are the hardest to paint well and as these dogs' faces are quite small I used my finest brush to paint the shadows around the eyes - one tiny run of pigment and the dogs could look deformed. Before adding thicker layers of detail on their coats I am concentrating on the background. I want this to look quite painterly as too much detail will detract from the dogs and I want to try and create a subtle dynamic triangular composition to draw the dogs together using light. It's starting to work but I think I'll need to add more colours and shades of green and brown to ground it (unintentional pun - sorry!).

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Ben the Jack Russell

This is Ben, a cute, scruffy looking Jack Russell I had on the drawing board at the same time as the last blog entry. I often have a couple of paintings on the go at the same time to keep momentum up in the inevitable 'stuck' periods you get in each portrait. This little chap provided a reason to put my brushes down for a bit and pick up the pastels as he's just so dinky! The portrait is small 6 x 9" on Ingres Pastel Paper. After lightly sketching the main features I started with the light colours first: blocking in most of the white and adding greys and cream (which you can't really see in the photo above). I smudged the colours together then with a sharp pastel flicked on lines for the texture of the fur. It's easier when working small to blend, and almost complete, the lighter areas before introducing dark pastel colours as it reduces the chance of accidentally smudging colours you don't want. Next I went straight for the eyes and nose, using black, browns and a touch of yellow ochre. I put more shadows into the fur, sharpened the pastels and dashed off some lines of white and black fluffy hair around the edges to give him his scruffy look. I tightened up on the details, checked the other photos and discovered he had more warm brown on his left ear and eye which I added, and voila! He is destined to sit proudly framed on a desk - I think he's ready!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Portrait of an albino girl

Here are the last three stages of this portrait. I added more warm tones to the painting before concentrating on the detail in the fabric and on the chair. Then I went back to getting the tonal values right, adding more shadow areas and subtle glazes of yellows, reds and umbers and shading more of the hair and face. Finally, I spent a lot of time fine-tuning the details especially on the face which I purposefully kept very light to give her an almost luminescent angelic quality which is how the photograph felt to me. I hope I've captured her essence.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Portrait of an albino girl

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012! The first of a number of New Year commissions for me begins with this beautiful serene old photograph. The client wants me to add colour for the portrait. The young girl in the photo is her grandmother, she is albino and has amazing violet eyes. I sketched the picture on canvas board and started blocking in the background with paynes gray and burnt sienna for warmth. I want to make her face the focal point and give her an almost luminescent quality so starting dark gave me immediate contrast. Next I picked out the lighter areas with a warm cream I mixed up, then marked out the darker areas, like the folds in the fabric and the shadows on the chair, in paynes grey. At this stage I painted the face in monotone to get the shadows in the right place. By the third picture I have added more colours to the background, scumbled red and burnt sienna over her top and onto her cheeks and painted more of the chair. This tonal under-painting with her face being the lightest part of the canvas, gives me a good foundation on which to build up the detail. Keep watching...