Friday, 26 March 2010

Step By Step Pet Portrait

I thought I'd post on my figurative commission work for a change as
a) I've been overloading my blog with my jewellery making obsession
b) I haven't posted on pet portraits before
c) almost every time I get part way into a portrait, I think I've lost the necessary skills, my thinking brain takes over and I'm all set to tear it up. This post will serve to remind me that this nearly always happens and I can usuallly work through it.
My latest commission is of a young black Laborador. Solid colours are often the most difficult to portray & don't even attenpt one unless you have a good photo taken in daylight

I draw an accurate outline onto the paper in pastels. It needs to be extremely accurate - a line 1mm out can change who the picture represents& this is what owners / parents notice.

Next I shade in the darkest shadows with purple and dark blue ( this would differ between colours of dog, but I usually use some kind of blue for the shadows.)

After this I block in the remaining fur with dark grey:

And then go over the whole lot with an even darker grey:

The purple and blue is now being covered, but will still show through enough to tell the unconscious that these are shadows ( Look at shadows on snow to see how much blue is in them).

This is now at the stage where I think I don't know what I'm doing. I start to add some colour for the eyes as this brings the portrait alive for me. This is the only time I add light colours first

Now it's starting to look more like a dog, my thinking brain starts to interfere ( ie- it tells me " noses don't look like that" etc.). If I listen to it, I'm in danger of painting what I think I know, rather than what I see. At this point, I often turn my picture upside down to complete it. This cuts out my thinking brain as it doesn't look like anything and I can simply interpret the shapes from the photo and reproduce them on paper

The first introduction of black contrast with the existing grey to produce highlights and depth. This is enhanced with lighter grey and blue again

The eyes are darkened and the whole thing tidied up.
The final touch is tiny flecks of white on the nose and in the eyes. The black is strengthened and some fur defined:


Some of the blue paper shows through with pastels which helps to unify the picture as a whole

Not a bad likeness - it's a surprise for someone's birthday & I hope she likes it.

4 comments:

Felted House said...

It's fascinating to see the whole process, thank you for posting it. I'm stunned by how exact it is, as you say it has to be accurate but to actually be able to do it so well is very talented indeed! I'm sure she'll love it.

tammykingdon said...

Thankyou, I hope so. The couple who commissioned it are really pleased, so I hope the recipient will be too.

Cathy said...

Really enjoyed seeing the artwork emerge. Beautifully done.

Cari Jiménez said...

¡Bravo!