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

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A beautiful couple and their dog

I've lived with this portrait for a long time and I'm really pleased to have finished it! It's been one of the most difficult to come out of the end of my paintbrush: some flow easily and others seem troublesome with every stroke and every mix of colour. No reason for it - just the way art works and I've spent hours tweaking and fiddling but I'm pleased with it now and feel I've got a good likeness. The couple are lovely, so the subject was a joy, but the lighting and quality of photos was a challenge. Their dog was added in from a different photo which had very little detail and a different light source. New photos helped a little but I still had to work out where the light would hit the dog's head in between the couple. It has been sitting on one of my easels so I've been able to assess it and paint a bit every time I've walked past but am embarrassed by how long this one has taken me. Anyway, I'll be pleased to finally send it and I hope the couple are thrilled with being able to receive it (at long last!)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Silver clay making course

In the midst of working on commissions and teaching a series of summer art workshops I took time out last Saturday to attend a silver clay making course with a couple of friends and it was so much fun I decided to include it in my blog - after all, it's another creative pursuit! The courses are run by Paula Louise Paton in her workshop/Aladdin's cave near Newick in East Sussex. We had just 16g of PMC or precious metal clay to play with, which seemed very small when I removed it from the packet, but in just a day I made much more than I thought I would, especially as I chose the biggest leaf cutter for the first piece. Paula demonstrated how to roll out the clay to the desired thickness using the thickness of playing cards as a measure and showed us how to stamp textures into the surface, make molds and use existing molds, how to hand fire the silver using a blowtorch, stick bits together using silver paste. We learned loads and at the end of the day our little lumps of carefully carved and shaped clay went into the kiln brown and came out silver (well white actually). Pure alchemy! And with some soldering of jump rings and earring backs, a bit of polishing up and patinating we all felt very pleased with ourselves and had a right laugh to boot!! Here's a pic of all the bits I produced and if you'd like a go yourself check out: http://www.learnsilverclay.co.uk but I'll warn you, it's pretty addictive and could be quite a costly hobby.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Three Generations

Another relatively small portrait, this time in acrylics, is of three members of the same family but three different generations. I started work on a 12 x 16" Loxley canvas board, painting earthy colours over the background first. Next I spent time drawing the figures onto the canvas, taking care to get their features in the right place. I blocked in the colours of their clothing, adding shading while the paint was wet on each section and blending it in. Then I started the fiddly task of putting their features in with the smallest brush in my studio. Most of the painting was done with a size 0 rigger and minute blending of colours to get the tones in the right places. I deliberately kept the background loose so as not to detract from the detail and darkened the areas near their faces to help them stand out more. This was a very fiddly portrait as I don't often work that small on facial features but I think I've got their likenesses. A good judge is comparing it on my computer as you can see both the photo and the portrait same size side by side. The best judge will be the family themselves!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Portrait of a Weimaraner

I have been working on a few commissions at the same time at the moment and this is a relatively small pastel (9 x 12") of a Weimaraner called Daisy. Apparently she loves to sleep a lot so the chosen pose was of her just about to drop off. I chose a beige velour pastel paper both for the texture and colour as I wanted to create a soft, warm portrait with a seemingly limited palette. I started by blocking in the main lights and darks with my Conte soft pastels. In stage two I added yellow ochre and other bright oranges and yellows as well as a warm burgundy brown into the shadows. The paper surface doesn't require any blending so I kept on working more pastels into the portrait until moving on to using pastel pencils from stage three onwards. Here I flicked in all sorts of shades of browns, oranges, yellows and whites, darkening up the shadows and details before finally adding some texture to the top of the cushion and my signature! 

Portrait commissions on the go

The portrait of this couple is nearly finished but their dog still needs some work. I'm waiting for a more detailed photo but have also been trying to source some other examples. The challenge is that I'm adding in an additional bod where the light source is in a different direction. The light on the couple is strong sunlight coming from behind so although the dog is in shadow he may also catch a shaft of light coming in between them. Since the last entry, many of layers of paint have been applied to the skin tones and fine details added which I appreciate are more difficult to see at this size. Hair highlights were applied with a sword liner brush and lots of colours were layered up to create shine on dark hair and make the curls look convincing. More details were added to the shirt although my aim is to keep the clothing looser in style and more painterly.