Christmas orders began coming in by September last year (2017) and I had little time to spend on anything else. I worked around 10 - 12 hours a day from mid October onwards and had to create a finely tuned schedule list for each day to ensure every portrait was completed for a specific date because there were a few overseas orders, some framed too and I had to ensure frames were received in plenty of time knowing framers tend to be extremely busy in the run up to Christmas too. I was hoping to have finished all my orders a week before I was due to travel to my old home town of Chesterfield so I could relax a bit but I was literally working late into the night before my journey the next morning!
Luckily everything worked out well in the end and my final portrait Star the Chow Chow, was literally collected by the Commissionee at the train station when I arrived in Chesterfield, he had travelled the 6 hours with me on bus, coach and then train in my suitcase! I received a lovely bunch of flowers from the lady for his painting and was pleased to see some lovely comments from recipients throughout Christmas day upon seeing the portrait of their much loved Pets. Click on any of the images to visit the progress pages.
Now all the Christmas Commissions are all complete and I've had a couple of weeks off to recharge, I am back in the studio working on new articles and 2018 Art Workshops for my Step by Step Art website, there's always so much to do behind the scenes. If you are looking to book your own bespoke Commission with me or are an Artist interested in articles, mini tutorials and possibly taking in a 1 Day Art Workshop with me, click on either of the links below to visit the page/website.
Here's hoping 2018 is a wonderful year for you!
It has been a while since I posted on my News page as it has been very busy here in the studio and I completed my final Chesterfield Art Workshop of this year in August and so I thought I would share some of my recent Acrylic paintings with you.
I currently have a list of works to start and others to finalise and more shelves have been put up in the studio to house all my portraits. I prefer to work between portraits as well as swapping mediums, as this works better for me and so there are currently 20 portraits in progress stages, more nearing completion than those in the early stages. Here are 3 of my recent works that I have not yet shared within the pages of my website:
Amethyst Sunbird on Red Hot Poker
Since finding the talented Scotch Macaskill's Reference photos website, I have been inspired to get back to my first love in Art which is Birds. Scotch is an amateur photographer who lives in South Africa and captures whatever photos of South African Wildlife that he can whilst on Safari with whatever camera he has to hand at the time.
I have chosen many reference images from his site and these paintings when complete, will be added to a new website purely depicting all my Wildlife Art, mostly Acrylic work but some Coloured pencil portraits too. I will keep you up to date with this new website but suspect it will be sometime next year when it is up and running as I have a lot of paintings to create yet! Here is one of the first Sunbirds I am working on. It is a male Amethyst feeding on a Red Hot Poker flower also known as a Torch Lily.
I have had the ideal composition photograph of a Red Hibiscus flower for many years and knew I would create it in Art at some point. I chose the Acrylics for such a subject as their vibrancy would be ideal for such a colourful subject.
I applied some tiny blobs of Molding Paste to areas where there were water droplets on the flower and as I already had a gold frame for this portrait, decided to change the colour of the flower to yellow, although the portrait is not yet finished and I may yet change my mind again! This is progress so far along side my little pots of pre-mixed colours that I use for this and a few other paintings I have on the go.
Haze the Black Labrador - Progress so far in the first 4 stages
As we have 4 dogs - 3 Labradors & a Springer Spaniel who love splashing around in the water when we take them out on walks, I wanted to do 4 separate portraits of each and as I enjoy the challenge of painting water, I picked out 4 of my favourite photos that we have captured of them over the years. I have already completed the Springer Spaniel Casper, and this is Haze, the daft Labrador of the bunch! The slideshow below shows current progress of this painting in 4 stages.
The background is always the first thing I work on and the main subject can then be finalised afterwards.
Thanks for viewing and I hope you found this post interesting,
Feel free to 'like' or leave us a comment below!
Have a lovely day, Karen :)
Latest Acrylic Art progress - A beautiful Cherry Blossom Dachshund 'Miss Molly' & Summertime boy 'Storm'
In between Commissions, I will pick the paintbrushes up and work on a Non-Commission portrait. The first one is of a gorgeous little Black Dachshund dressed up for her photo op in the Cherry Blossoms which I thought would make a stunning painting and after Molly's Mum gave me the green light to use her reference photo, I chose a square 12" x 12" canvas size and set to work.
This is quite a technical piece as usually I will begin with the background ensuring it is 95% complete before beginning the subject itself but as there is so much detail in the background and some overlap onto Molly herself, I am doing a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing, it also breaks up the monotony of all those pink petals which can make you 'blind' to detail if I stare at something for too long.
I purchased a frame for it a while back and chose the detailed yet understated 'BROCKWELL' black frame (priced at £45) mainly to set those pinks off well but also as a compliment to Molly's colouration ensuring both the frame and flowers will not overpower Molly once complete. There are many more hours to do but I will post here when I have further updates so do keep checking back regularly or you can follow me on my Facebook page at Karen M Berisford's Artworld.
'Summertime Boy' - An Acrylic painting of our Yellow Labrador 'Storm' relaxing in the evening sunshine
We have 4 dogs ( 3 Labradors & a Springer Spaniel) and 2 birds (Ringneck Parakeet & a Cockatiel) I wanted to create some small paintings of each to hang at the top of our stairs, so I opted for an 8" x 10" size and picked favourite images of each dog in the same type of stance ( head to the side) with a 'foliage' background to match.
I began with our Yellow Labrador Storm, and loosely applied the background colours as a base which can look rather messy at this stage but then I tidy it up and create a softer balance of tones, I then move on to the main subject. In the reference photo, there is a lot of sun shining on the right side of the body and some of his natural colour has been lost due to the need to lighten up a dark photo and so I decided to work from another photo of him to add a more natural colour to his fur and to soften the harsh glow of the sun somewhat.
I chose the ASHGATE frame (priced at £40) to compliment all the portraits as it is a tonal colour of silver/gold which would match the warm browns in the Yellow Labrador & the Liver Springer and the silver tones would suit the Black Labradors and the neutral colours (greys/whites) of my 2 Birdies also. I will keep updating this blog with progress as and when, understandably I have a lot to do with 6 paintings but I think they'll look beautiful together once all framed and hung!
Feel free to share this post or leave a comment below if you wish!
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
The latest Articles available for free to All Artists
For those of you who do not know, I also have a dedicated website for my Art Workshops & tutoring which include many articles available for Artists of all calibre found at www.stepbystepart.co.uk. I have recently created 4 new articles that can be viewed by clicking any of the 4 images below. These articles may be of interest to Coloured pencil Artists in particular, 1 may also be of interest to Graphite Artists or Watercolorists too. If you like working with a tonal paper, Ursus paper may be something that interests you, find out how tonal paper can help your work. Heard of the Derwent Coloursoft pencils but want to find out more about them, click on the image below to visit the article and if you have some Coloursoft pencils at home you can try out the Tonal Layering exercise with them although you can try out this tutorial regardless of which Coloured pencils you own, it is ideal for those just starting out with pencils. If you are looking for a smooth white paper for your Coloured or Graphite pencil Art, take a look at the Hot pressed Watercolor papers page - there is lots of information on various papers that may be more suited to your preferences.
New Articles coming soon to Step by Step Art
As I missed the Winter Newsletter in December due to Commission work, I am putting together 4 new articles that will be sent out at the beginning of May. These include a couple of articles on soft Pastels; About Unison Pastels and a Step by Step tutorial showing how to create a tonal sky suited to Pastel newbies. There are also 2 'Starting out with..' articles, the first 'Starting out with Oils' has been written by Welsh Artist Chris Chalk on the 3 most important things you need to start your new journey with Oils. The second is 'starting out with Coloured pencils' written by myself especially for those looking to begin with the pencils. Why not sign up to our Newsletter and receive the latest information about these articles as soon as they become available. Find out more about SUBSCRIBING to the Step by Step Art Newsletter.
Please Note: These 4 articles are not yet available to view but will be linked up once they are.
1 Day Art Workshops in Chesterfield, Derbyshire
My 1 Day Workshops will be starting in May and I currently have 4 Workshops with spaces still available to book for anyone interested in coming along. If you are looking to learn how to create detailed Art in Coloured Pencils, Graphite pencils or acrylic paints, my Workshops are designed around regular Demonstrations and 1 to 1 help where needed and you also receive a booklet with Step by Step instructions and images which will help you through the day to ensure you know where to start your portrait and what colours/grades to use for best effect. Workshops are kept to small numbers (upto 10) to ensure everyone gets the help and support needed throughout the day. Prices start from £42.00 per person and Art Kits can be loaned or purchased with prices starting form just £5.00 Extra.
Click on any of the images above to visit the page of interest or find out more about my 1 Day Workshops by clicking the link below.
If you know someone who may find this article of interest, feel free to share via Twitter or click the facebook 'Like' button below. Get in touch if you have any questions on any parts of this post or leave a comment below, I'll get back to you as soon as possible,
Karen M Berisford
I was approached by a returning customer from the USA to create a Coloured pencil portrait of a Barn Owl and offered to create a few mock ups of compositions before I began as I always do. As a lover of photography I have a large photo reference library of various animals and birds including Barn Owls and so put together 5 different compositions one of which was the 2 Owls on the wall which became the basis of the portrait. The second stage was creating a few mock ups of the Owls within different backgrounds and finally, with the Owls and background in place the last collection of mock ups made were with various walls for the Owls to stand on which were in focus and added interest to the final composition. Many of my Wildlife portraits are created this way.
I chose a tan toned paper to work on which matches the warm tones of the Barn owls as well as giving strength in colour to the lighter tones such as the whites. The tonal background will be created using Derwent's Coloursoft range pencils which are soft and blend well for great effect and the Owls & the wall will be created using the caran Dache Luminance pencils which are ideal for very fine detail and strength of colour. A base layer of tones and loose detail is first applied to the whole of the portrait before I then apply the stronger & finer details to completion.
The Barn Owl at Cresswell, Northumberland (UK)
This portrait is based on actual Barn Owl territory at Cresswell in Northumberland (UK). It is a 40 minute cycle ride from where I live along the beautiful coastal route of Lynemouth through to Cresswell pond, this place regularly has Photographers set up waiting for this little guy to make an appearance. Sitting in the undergrowth of the wide open field which connects to a lagoon where you can regularly see Avocets, Oystercatchers & even Otters on the rare occasion, is an area overlooking the coast and is ideal for field mice and voles. I wait patiently as I see him in the distance, flying silently and hovering on numerous occasions, not at all phased by the long line of photographers with their huge cameras on tripods waiting to get some great photos themselves. There is something breathtaking about seeing such a Bird in the Wild and feeling honoured that this Owl continues it's daily journey passing close by whilst I click the rapid fire button on my camera. Here are some of those photos.
to the Jaguar itself, applying every single hair individually with a very fine brush. This fur layering process will probably take around 3 layers to get the right balance of tone and level of detail that I like to add into my work and I
break up the intensity of the application by switching to different sections of the painting throughout, it also avoids paint waste as Acrylics can dry quickly so I ensure I place smaller amounts in the paint palette that will be used up before starting with a different range of tones for the next section. There is a lot of small detail on this painting and so it will take a good few hours to complete but I think you'll agree it is a beautiful subject!
The Barn Owls were taken on 2 separate occasions at the Butterfly House in Sheffield, the background was taken in Cresswell, Northumberland which actually has a Barn owl flying through the middle of the image (see the back of the left Owls head) and the wall was taken on different day at Woodhorn church in Northumberland. They were all roughly 'stuck' together to create a single
The Sumatran Tiger was also created in Coloured pencils for a returning customer who allowed me to create my own composition. The Tiger image was taken at a Zoo of which you can still see the bars, the water, rocks in the foreground and the tree branches at the top left of the image were all cut from individual images to create the one composition. You can see the final Artwork by clicking on the image.
The Green girl was created purely for a competition entry for the USA Colored pencil Magazine. You could pull any section from the image itself and create your own composition, for this I uploaded it into Picmonkey and literally played around with different tones, overlays and applications until I came up with the final reference image, click the image to view the progress page.
Buddy the Springer Spaniel - 11" x 14"
Buddy's portrait was created using 5 different photographs. The body taken from this photo, the head from another, the tail from a third, the background from a fourth and some of the background flowers from a fifth image, all cut and pasted together to create the mock up of the reference image. Doing this can throw a whole lot of problems into the mix as different images can have different lighting, luckily I was able to ensure the correct balance as I was provided with lots of great quality photos that i could pull detail from. As you would suspect the grass took the longest as each blade of grass was applied individually and this was done in 3 layers so individually repeated 3 times!
"I'm sitting looking at Buddy in pride of place on the wall, photo attached! It is absolutely lovely and it had the desired effect on Steve when he unwrapped - there were tears!! Everyone that has seen it has said how amazing it is with the amount of fine detail and so Buddy. If I manage to get a decent photo of Buddy next to it I will send it on! Thank you once again, it is lovely to have a painting of Buddy forever."
Dudley the Springer Spaniel - 9" x 12" in Acrylics
This was a lovely composition but a tiny photo meaning that it pixelated when zooming in and the detail was lost in the face, especially around the eyes. The Commissionee loved the composition so much that I decided to see what I could do and asked if she could send some close up photos of Dudley taken in a less sunny environment and using all the photos together, I elaborated on the background/foreground somewhat and toned down the colouration on his head whilst still keeping the favoured stance. This was a challenge but I really loved the composition too and was happy with the final painting.
"Just wanted to let you know that mum loves her portrait and we all cried our eyes out when we first saw it. What you've done is so special and we couldn't have asked for a better painting to remember him by. It captures his brilliant personality so well. I'll definitely be recommending you to my spaniel loving friends!
Picture of framed painting to follow soon!
The Commissionee only had a few photos of Kita who they had recently lost and so I was limited to flash photos. This image was a nice pose but as flash distorts natural colour I had to guess the balance by using online photos as reference. The image was slightly blurry up close but I found that I was able to apply a lot of fine detail simply by being aware of the fur shortness and the final portrait was far more detailed than I thought possible due to the quality of the photo. The final painting was framed in a lovely black frame which helped Kita's portrait to stand out.
"Hi Karen, I just wanted you to know that I absolutely love my painting of Kita. Thank you so much, you have done the most amazing portrait of him. He was my best friend and my little boy and the painting has been hung in the living room so we can all admire him everyday! Thank you again xx"
Diarmid E-mailed me a great photo of himself, his girlfriend Max and their little French Bulldog Kyla stood in front of the famous red phone box from the film 'Local Hero' when they visited Pennan in Aberdeenshire. As the phone box only covered half the background and the other half would add nothing to the composition it was decided to leave the background out completely and simply write 'Pennan' in the corner of the portrait. As mobile phone images tend to 'flatten' detail, the fineness of the Coloured pencils brought back the sharpness of detail and I really enjoyed creating this portrait - I always love a challenge!
"Hi Karen , Hope you had a lovely Christmas. Wanted to drop you a note to say that Max absolutely loved the portrait! She couldn't believe how well you'd captured the detail from the photo and was thrilled to pieces! We've already recommended you to friends and family and am sure we'll use your amazing skills again in the the future. Have a great New Year!! Diarmid"
This portrait was the last drawing I completed for Christmas and depicts 2 Bearded Collie's called Pyppa (L) & William (R) completed in Coloured pencils. I had taken some photos of them both a year earlier but as William (R) is a rather nervous little boy, I struggled to get any close ups of him. trying to distinguish between them after a year was a challenge too! I was provided with a few great quality photos which I could also use to add in their eyes a little more too.
"Thank you so much for my beautiful portrait, you've really excelled yourself this time, its amazing!"
"I just wanted you to know that I absolutely love my painting of Kita. You have done the most amazing portrait of him, he was my best friend and my little boy. I love him so much and the painting of him has been put up in the living room so we can all admire him everyday!!!
Thank you again" xx
Step by Step Coloured Pencil Tutorial
Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils
Prismacolor Premier pencils are probably America's most popular Coloured pencils, after buying and trying them out, find out what my thoughts are on these pencils.
Starting Out With Acrylic Paints
Are you thinking of trying out a new medium or looking to take up Acrylic Paints as a complete beginner to Art? You can find lots of information on what product requirements you need as well as some helpful hints and tips to help you get the best out of your new medium. Most importantly when buying an Acrylic paint range I explain what the differences are between cheap/student Acrylics & Professional/Artists Quality paints.
Acrylics are a great medium as they offer fast drying results with great colour vibrancy which can be applied to achieve an Oil style painting or a watercolour, versatility for everyone!
*Newsletters are sent out every quarter or whenever Art Workshops are available to view, subscribers will NEVER receive SPAM mail and your E-mail address will only be used through the Step by Step Art website and NEVER sold on to third parties.
Karen M Berisford
1 Day Art Workshops
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Acrylic Art On Gessobord
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Alaskan Husky Drawing
Alaskan Husky In Coloured Pencils
Amethyst Sunbird In Acrylics
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Baby Boxer Dog Painting
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Padley Gorge In Autumn
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Skies Tutorial With Soft Pastels
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