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 latest commission an oil painting of Macon and Rully, two fun-loving Great Pyrenees dogs who like snapping at builders' bottoms! I visited them in their new home to take their photographs and after an albumful of snaps, we settled on the two photos which best describe each individual personality. The owners wanted them facing each other and set in local bluebell woods so I sourced some pictures from a photographer friend of mine as well as the internet and mocked up some photo-composites. After playing around with the composition I ordered a fine linen canvas size 24 x 30" from Harris Moore who make them to measure. I primed the canvas and painted a sunshine yellow in a mixture of cadmium, lemon and ochre. When that had dried I drew the dogs in place. Using titanium white and burnt umber I started to block in the main areas of tone, mixing crimson and ultramarine with the umber to get some rich darks. Next I concentrated my paintbrush on getting some texture into the background and painted in some trees. With a finer brush I started work on their faces and continued putting more shadows into the background to make the white of their coats leap out. The oils I use dry relatively quickly so I can come back the next day and apply more layers without too much merging of colour. The next stage of the process is what my artist friend, Robert, always calls the 'A' level phase' - when the initial painting, with it's naive brush strokes and energy, gets lost as layers of detail are applied. It's easy to think you are wrecking the portrait at this stage but it is a necessary part of the process in order that depth and accuracy are achieved. Right, better get back to painting...!
This is Laura, she's 21 very soon so her mum has commissioned an A3 pencil portrait for her birthday and sent me some pictures of pencil drawings other artists had done so that I could see the style of drawing she wanted. First off I spent a while trying to get the composition and cropping right for the size of the portrait. A close crop with Laura's face quite large would have worked well but we opted for a lovely classic composition to show off as much of her hair as possible. I sketched the main features using a 2B pencil on acid-free cartridge paper. Once I was happy I had a likeness I started to lightly shade her skin tones with an HB pencil to create soft, light, even shadows. Using a softer lead would have left too much of a granular texture and I want her skin to look smooth so I use blending stubs as well as different pencil leads. With the skin tones finely blended I took an 8B to establish the darkest areas of the portrait which included her eyes and the shadows in her hair. A strong shadow on the left side of the drawing enhances the shape of Laura's face while the shadow on the right remains soft. Next I used a sharpened HB to sweep in the lines that make up Laura's hair. There is no short cut here - each hair has to be drawn including the ones that escape out to the sides! Finally a little darkening of the shadows and a signature completes the portrait.