I recently completed this commission of Dougal. Pet portraits are my most requested subject, and Dougal's portrait was ordered from a returning customer as a birthday gift to a family member.
The reference image used for this drawing was a great composition, but the detail and colour, was unfortunately lacking. Extra photos of Dougal were provided, which allowed me to gather additional detail. The leash was removed from the drawing, as this added nothing to his portrait.
Living in Northumberland, the Labrador is a very popular dog breed here and having two Labradors myself, we often encounter Red fox Labradors and their owners, which allowed me to study their natural colour as we passed. I always try to balance out the values in each portrait, which means I will correct the colour tones, especially so when the colours in the photograph are washed out or under-exposed. I also spend time researching online, collecting photos of other Red Fox Labradors which act as a guide too.
If you are thinking about booking a commission of your own pet, get in touch. If you want to find out more about my commissions first, you can click one of the tabs below and read about the process or view my art gallery. I work in coloured pencils and acrylic paints, both offer very different outcomes, but are highly detailed.
The latest commission on the easel is this stunning Red Fox Labrador called Dougal.
For this 10" x 12" drawing of Dougal, I am using the lightfast coloured pencils, Caran d'Ache Luminance on Strathmore Bristol Vellum paper.
I create my drawings using a layering process, which help to create the depth and realism that can be seen in all my work. This process starts from the lighter tones and builds up to heavy and bold applications. The realism is created at the end, when I use both light and dark tones to manipulate the layers and create the final pieces you see within the pages of my website.
Creating a drawing like this can take many hours and to ensure I stay fully focused on each piece, I work on other drawings and paintings in between sessions. The length of time it takes to create a portrait depends entirely on the complexity of the composition, but a 4 - 6 week timescale is normal, unless a specific timeframe is requested.
This is the current stage of Dougal's portrait. There is still much to do on the colouration, but you can see how soft his fur now looks from the first post above, after numerous layers have been applied. You can view Dougal's progress page HERE.
I also completed a portrait of a Red Fox Labrador last year. This is Rua, who is Dougal's sister. You can view her portrait HERE.
If you are looking to commission your own portrait, visit one of the galleries below to find out more about each medium.
It's been rather quiet on the art front in the studio over the last couple of weeks, not that I haven't done any art, I was away on holiday - but before I left, I actually did something that I had never done before, I actually packed a portrait in my suitcase to work on during the evenings, which actually turned out to be a god send as we were in a caravan without any internet connection for a WHOLE WEEK!!!! Can you even begin to imagine!!
The subject chosen was a 'double collared Sunbird' - a stunning image captured by Scotch Macaskill, a photograher living in South Africa. Having purchased a few of the new Derwent Lightfast pencils, I needed a vibrant composition to try them out, this subject was the perfect choice!
Throwing my standard pencil routine in the bin, I decided to trial out some additional products that I hadn't previously thought of using with pencils because I'm a purist and so instead of paper, I used a 3mm canvas called Pastelbord by Ampersand (usually used for my Acrylic paintings) which has a coarse surface, and my latest purchase of the 'Zest-it pencil blend'. I wasn't even sure if all these products together would work very well, but once I got started I found that they did - I was really enjoying the creative process, so much so that I decided to take it down to Torquay with me.
The 3rd night away, I set up my little studio in the small bedroom, plugging in the desk lamp I'd brought with me and the 4way adapter fell onto the floor, the switch bulbs all lighting up like a christmas tree which then knocked out ALL the electrics in the caravan!!! I was sat in darkness and heard my Dad, where seconds earlier he'd been watching the footy with my brother, shouting out "What's goo'in off!??" We had to call the security guard out who knew nothing about electrics and had to phone a professional up for advice before grabbing a butter knife out the drawer to remove the screws on the electric box outside the caravan and finally flick the electric back on..Hoorahh!! I still managed to get some art done though, being extra careful not to let the adapter fall off the table again, you can see in the image above that there was little space to work - the rest of the evening went without a hiccup thankfully.
Now I'm back in the studio, I am currently working on the Autumn newsletter for my www.stepbystepart.co.uk website and so time is limited for a while, however I had a spare frame that I thought I would store the portrait in until I get the chance to finish up which hopefully won't be too long.
Last year I had 4 portraits that were booked as Christmas Commissions as well as 3 that weren't but that needed to be delivered before Christmas to avoid the postal build up and last year was pretty hectic. All bar one (the Chow Chow dog) were small portraits but this year however I had 3 larger portraits booked in which allowed a much steadier pace. One was not booked as a Christmas Commission and so delayed until the New Year to avoid getting damaged in the overseas post to the USA, and so here are the 2 completed Commissions that I hope were received well by their recipients this Christmas day.
Click on either image to see the progress page.
I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas day and received some thoughtful gifts too.
Wishing you the very best for the New Year 2019!
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!
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.
Karen M Berisford