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
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.
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!
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.
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!
This time last week we were away in Wales, braving the Great British weather for a few days break (should've chosen this week!) and while I was there decided to seek out a day at an art studio so I could 'play'! I don't get much chance with all the commissions and art classes on at the moment, plus an imminent house move, to just get creative and experiment. So I contacted Lindsay at Studio Llwyndrain and arranged to spend the day at his studio in a beautiful setting near the Preseli Hills. These two pictures are the result of a few hours mucking about, trying new techniques and mediums. In the morning I was let loose with kid's watercolour paints, acrylic medium and tissue paper to create texture and some wildly bright colours to throw about! I'm used to painting in such a precise way that it was fun to create something much looser and impressionistic of the coastal landscape around. After a delicious lunch of home-made bread and soup and a chat with the other arty customers, I turned my hand to oils - a medium that I have little experience with. I studied photos I'd taken on a walk around Dale Head the previous day and after trying out a number of different techniques and brushes, I decided the angles and solidity of the rocks leant themselves to paint application with a palette knife, scraping back some areas to create interesting texture. I was quite pleased with the results, given the limited amount of time I'd given myself, and I would thoroughly recommend visiting this delightful art space. It is light and airy, well-equipped for use of all sorts of mediums from drawing to mixed media, oils and watercolours to print-making with bags of helpful tuition and yummy home-made grub to fuel your creativity. You can also stay there - check out http://www.artholidayspembrokeshire.co.uk for more details. Right, now back to business...!