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 is Sonny, a Jardine's parrot, nibbling on a malted milk biscuit (from what I can make out!). The pastel portrait commissioned was quite big (16 x 20") and the photo was very small (taken with a phone), which when enlarged went all pixelated. The customer sent me lots of others and a bird fanatic friend of mine identified Sonny as a Jardine's parrot. She sent me links to other photos which gave me more detail to work with so the portrait could begin... I sketched the pose, blocked in the main areas of colour and gently smudged them together to form a base and prevent the paper showing through. Next I concentrated on tonal values adding white to highlight the feathers and strong blacks to emphasise the markings and shadows. I put the vertical bars of the cage in using a grey and a black pastel pencil alongside a ruler which created lots of dust and smudging which I carefully removed before the next phase. I decided not to draw any horizontal bars as I quite liked the simplicity of the vertical bars hinting at the cage. There are some beautifully vibrant colours in his feathers which I mixed using green, yellow and blue with touches of scarlet and orange, blending the colours with the pastels themselves to prevent them from going muddy. Finally I had to make a trip to the corner shop to buy a packet of malted milk biscuits for reference purposes only of course. Half the packet demolished and a cup of tea later (I'd forgotten how good they were!) the biscuit was nearly finished... and then the packet was!!!
This is a large pastel portrait commissioned as one of two to go into this couple's home. The first is a slightly more formal portrait of their wedding day, painted in black and white pastel on duck egg blue Canson Mi-Tientes Pastel Paper. Firstly I played around with the composition as they wanted the building to feature and I wanted them to be prominent. After sketching them carefully onto the pastel paper I started to mark out areas of white and decided that to give the picture depth I would whiten the sky. This had the effect of pushing the tower forward before I'd even started adding shades of black. Next I focused on getting the tower in and the complex brickwork of the building. I started at the top and worked downwards to minimise the chance of smudging, but it needed a number of layers of pastel and careful blending. It took a lot longer than anticipated and some very contorted drawing angles as I couldn't rest my hand. The tree at the top was easier, adding additional interest to the picture and giving my arm a rest! I love the effect of the subtle duck egg blue with the black and white and originally planned to use the paper as my mid-tone but the building needed more weight so I introduced a warm grey. I started drawing the couple's faces with pastel pencils, the level of detail was tricky to achieve as the smallest particles of pastel dust can completely change the features, so I kept going back to it, adding tiny dots of black or white and smudging with the pencil tip. The glass houses I kept deliberately vague and light but used them to link the building with the couple. Finally, after feeling completely happy with their faces I worked on the detail in the white of her wedding dress and finished with the black of his suit. This feels like a particularly fragile portrait and I'm looking forward to getting it framed and protected, but I'm happy with the finished result.
Last but not least is Caz in blue to make up the patriotic sibling trio. She proved much easier to paint as the photo I had to work from had more detail so I didn't need to refer to the other pictures of her so much. The final finished three are at the top and the three separate box canvases can be hung side-by-side or one above the other. I hope their mum loves her birthday gift!!
So Ed is the next sibling under the paintbrush and looking ghastly and ghostly in the first apparition on the blog. Yikes! Colour needed quick so an application of burnt sienna gave him a fake tan but he looked flat. The colours of the rainbow were next painted in the shadows, his hair and attention spent on the shape and colour of the eyes. Occasionally I turned the portrait upside down to ensure I wasn't losing the shapes (top tip: try it, it tricks your brain!). Lastly I used my fabulous new sword liner brush to paint the hair and all the complicated highlights. He's nearly there but I might be kinder to his complexion...
I have been working on the commission of three portraits (as well as a few others) and have been asked to put up a few more of the stages in between to show more of the process so here goes... Following on from the last entry, Nicola has undergone a radical transformation from eyeless and flat to pretty much finished: first I concentrated on painting more colour, this is built up in glazes of different colours of acrylic applied thinly and left to dry before the next glaze is applied. Then I looked at darkening the shadows and lightening the highlights to improve tonal values. This left the painting looking stark so warmer colours were introduced which gave Nicola a jaundiced/fake tan sort of look! In the top two pictures I paid attention to the shadows and highlights again, adding pinks, greens, blues and oranges to counteract the yellow and brighten the shadows. I put in more detail and layers into the hair and tweaked the shapes of her features as they had migrated a bit and her nose wasn't strong enough. A little more tweaking may be needed tomorrow when I have a fresh pair of eyes but she's nearly there. The next entries will be of her siblings but I won't include so many steps. I hope that helps!
These three siblings have arranged to give their mum a birthday portrait of each of them and as it's the year of the Queen's Jubilee we came up with the idea of painting three canvases red, white and blue! I am painting on 9 x 12" deep-edged box canvases which are quite small but collectively make an impact and can be propped up side by side or mounted vertically down a wall. It took me a while to compose each of the portraits. It should have been an easy task but I toyed with the idea of a close crop on each of their heads, tilting them within the frame or showing more of the background. As Ed is looking up at the camera his eyes appear lower in his head but this looked wrong when all three faces were placed together. I decided I needed to line up their eyes and the only way they worked together was to place them all about half way down the canvas instead of the more pleasing composition of thirds. After drawing their faces onto canvas I set about blocking in the main colours of skin tone and background colours making sure I could still see my drawing through the glazes of paint. I wanted to ensure the red, white and blue theme would work with each person and painted them all together at each stage. Next I concentrated on painting their features with a fair amount of accuracy to establish the shapes. My next focus will be in building up glazes of colour to recreate realistic skin tones... so keep watching!