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

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Portrait Painting in Oils with Mike Skidmore

Last weekend I attended a fabulous Portrait Painting in Oils Course with Mike Skidmore in the Cotswolds and would thoroughly recommend it! Mike's teaching style is fun, informal and instructive with bags of tips and encouragement for artists of all levels. He has loads of his work around the place to inspire and tells jokes that make you want to expire but everyone went home with a portrait they were proud of. The process began with choosing a photograph and drawing it onto a Belle Arte canvas. Then the pencil was sealed in place with an acrylic wash of Payne's gray which was left to dry. Next a grisaille or monotone underpainting was created using Payne's grey and white acrylic paints mixed with slow drying medium to describe the form. The following day we mixed up a dark flesh tone, added a wet medium to thin it down, and painted it all over the face. Then, while it was wet we could work into it with colour, working from dark to light. I added flecks to the beard and viridian green to the shadows in the cloth before running out of steam. However, I signed up for an extra day so I could paint some more on both this portrait and some others I had brought with me. It meant suffering more of Mike's jokes but it was jolly worth it! His wife, Cathy, kept us fed and watered throughout the weekend, serving up scrumptious lunches in the house and running over to the studio with cuppas and pastries. They are an amazing team and I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Blackie pastel portrait

This is a commission for my cousin, Caroline, of a lovely old dog called Blackie. The portrait is an A4 pastel but as I wasn't sure of the cropping I first drew it on a cream coloured A3 Ingres Pastel Paper so I can cut it down later but I quite like the crop as it finished up. After sketching in the shape, I blocked in the whites and light greys with pastel pencils. Then I took my black Conte pastel and blocked in the darkest shadow areas. Dark animals need a lot of careful blending if their coat is to look shiny not smudgey so a few layers of black were applied and blended with grey and brown mid-tones. I often blend the layers using white, cream and grey pastel pencils especially on the final layers to create fur-like texture. I added a bit of shadow around the paws and stippled in some texture to assimilate sand on a beach and I think Blackie is ready to be framed!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Two Greyhound Pastel Portraits

I have just finished these two portraits of Bryn and Gigi - two greyhounds commissioned together as A3 pastel paintings. I worked on them simultaneously in order to get the balance of colour correct and use similar pastel colours in their coats to make them work together, even though they are very looking dogs. Having decided on the best photo of each of them I drew them lightly onto beige pastel paper, to ensure I had the features in the right place. Then I laid down a base of white in the lightest areas followed by a warm cream and smudged them together. Next I blocked in areas where I could see oranges and browns and carefully worked them together. Having laid a base I then established my darkest areas with a black and dark brown pastel. At this point I needed to focus on the eyes so I swapped my pastel block for a pastel pencil to create finer detail. Bryn's markings were a challenge as they needed to be mapped on in the right places without losing definition. I used a cream pastel pencil to blend the edges of the markings to keep them sharp and built up the tonal values with browns, ochres, oranges and greys. A touch of blue was also added in places, especially the nose, to complement the orange tones and make them zing! More warm oranges and peachy tones were added to Gigi's coat and after balancing the detail on both dogs I think they are complete and ready to be framed as a pair.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Another black Labrador but in pastel

This is Bramble, owned by a couple who share exactly the same birthday with each other (how cool is that?!) and the portrait is a surprise birthday present. The size is 12 x 16" on cream Canson Pastel Paper and started, as always, with a light drawing to get the main features mapped. Then I chose a reddish brown to paint into the shadows and white for the highlights. I added grey for the midtones and blended them together to lose the texture of the paper. It's useful to put all three primary colours into a black coat to stop the darks from looking dead so I reached for a blue pastel and picked out the areas that I could see had a blue hint. After blending them all together I used three different types of black pastels to lay into the shadow areas, blending and checking tonal values and shapes as I go. Not a lot seems to change in these final stages but depth is created by building more layers of colour: cream, blue, yellow ochre, purple, white and brown. The final touches of her name and my signature completes the commission!