Whilst in confinement, I plan to complete a 'few' pieces of art that have been hanging around the studio for a while. Over the weekend, I worked on a painting of myself with our old Labrador/Collie cross called Cindy. I am using the Ampersand Pastelbord which allows me to create smooth layers due to its texture.
It's been rather quiet on the art front in the studio over the last couple of weeks. I had been on holiday and was unable to showcase my creativity. However, before my departure, I decided to do something new and exciting - I packed a portrait in my travel bag to work on during my downtime. This decision proved to be a blessing as the place we stayed in didn't have internet access for an entire week. I took this opportunity to draw a 'double collared Sunbird', a stunning bird captured by the talented South African photographer Scotch Macaskill. To add some extra vibrancy to my artwork, I experimented with my new Derwent Lightfast pencils, and the subject was the perfect choice to showcase some lively colours.
Instead of my usual pencil routine, I experimented with some new products I hadn't considered using before. As a purist, I typically only use paper, but this time I opted for a 3mm canvas called Pastelbord by Ampersand, which I use for my acrylic paintings due to its coarse surface. I also tried out the 'Zest-it pencil blend', my latest purchase. I was initially unsure if these products would work well together, but to my surprise, they did. The creative process was so enjoyable that I decided to take my project with me to Torquay.
On my third night away, I set up a small studio in the small bedroom and plugged in my desk lamp and a 4-way adapter. Unfortunately, the adapter fell and caused a power outage in the caravan. My dad, who was watching football with my brother, shouted, "What's goo'in off!" in confusion. We had to call a security guard who, not knowing much about electricity, had to phone a professional for advice. He eventually had to use a butter knife to remove the screws on the electric box outside the caravan and turn the power back on. Despite the mishap, I managed to get some artwork done in the limited space.
Now that I'm back in my studio, I'm working on the autumn newsletter for my website and have limited time. I plan to store the portrait in a spare frame until I finish it.
I have just finished this beautiful pet portrait of a Rottweiler called Kira. The reference photo was quite small and much of the detail was missing in the black fur however I spent some time searching online for suitable photos of the dog breed and was able to create a highly detailed 12" x 16" coloured pencil portrait, with the above image showing the final result. Kira arrived home today and is being gifted to the commissionee's husband for his birthday later in the month. I hope Kira's portrait is enjoyed for many years to come by them both.
Last year I had four portraits that were booked for Christmas, as well as three that weren't, but that needed to be delivered before Christmas to avoid the postal build up, so last year was pretty hectic. All, bar one (the Chow Chow dog), were small portraits, but I also had three larger portraits booked too, which allowed a much steadier pace. One was delayed until the New Year to avoid any damage from the international post, going to the USA, and so here are the two commissions that I hope were received well by their recipients on christmas day.
I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas day and received some thoughtful gifts too.
Wishing you the very best for the New Year 2019!
After recently losing our Springer Spaniel, Christmas will be a little subdued in our house, but our three Labradors were still happy to open their presents. I took three old gift bags, and put sellotape over the top so they had to work out how to get to the smelly bone inside. It was rather eventful and I thought I'd share some photos of the unwrapping.
Storm - Happy with the world!
Our Storm is about 8½ and an extremely affectionate dog. He loves toys, particularly furry ones, having dragged our Springer round the garden one evening, because he found the fur around the neck of his winter coat, and thought it was for him. When I gave him his gift bag with the bone in the bottom, he was simply happy to carry the gift bag around the garden for a bit before laying on his back for a tummy tickle.
When I attempted to take his gift bag off him, he then thought we were playing a game of tug before the bag began to give way. At that moment, he shredded the bag to pieces, enjoying every moment, and then grabbed the bone. He was off, leaving me to tidy up after him!
Haze - The greedy dog
Haze is 7 in January and an absolute gannet! He knew there was food in his gift bag, and desperate to get to it ignoring my calls of 'Sit' for the camera. He wasn't interested in playing with a gift bag that he had never seen before, he could smell food and that's all he cared about.
He ripped the bag only as much as he needed, before sticking his nose right in and pulling the bone out. I can tell you that it did not last long after that.
Switch aka Titch - A bit confused...
Titch is about 12 now and his eyesight isn't as good as it was. Having never seen a gift bag before, he had no idea what he was supposed to do with it. Should he chew it, avoid it or wee on it? He could hear me encouraging him to play with it so picked it up and tried to give it to me, knowing he usually gets a treat for such tasks.
After more coaxing he gently put his head in the bag...was he going to get the bone? No, he was somewhat confused because now the gift bag was stuck on his head, and took it a walk round the garden, banging into the dustbin before I took it off him and gave him his bone.
Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and all the best for 2019!
Latest Articles at my Step by Step Art website
For those who do not know, I have a dedicated website for artists with free articles covering different mediums and art products. I have just completed 8 new articles for my Step by Step Art website which can be viewed by clicking on any of the image links below. These cover coloured pencils, acrylic paints, graphite pencils & pastels as well as art accessories, papers and mini tutorials plus guest posts by other artists such as Welsh oil painter Chris Chalk. In his article, he offers advice on which 3 products you will need to start out with oils.
Each article will open a new tab to the Step by Step Art website.
Mini Tutorial Graphite Pencils - Blending & Erasing for Beginners
Please feel free to share this article or any of the articles and Workshops over at the Step by Step Art website by clicking on any of the 'social' buttons.
Last year (2017), I started receiving Christmas orders as early as September, which kept me busy throughout the season. From mid-October onwards, I worked 10-12 hours a day, creating a schedule list for each day to ensure that all the portraits were completed on time. Some orders were from overseas, and I had to make sure that any frames ordered were received well in advance as framers tend to be very busy during the festive season. My goal was to finish all the orders a week before I travelled to my hometown of Chesterfield, but I worked late into the night before my journey.
Fortunately, everything went smoothly, and the person who commissioned it met me at the train station in Chesterfield to collect the portrait of Star the Chow Chow. The painting had travelled with me for six hours on a bus, coach, and train inside my suitcase. The lady who commissioned the painting gave me a lovely bunch of flowers. I was delighted to see the recipients' positive comments on Christmas day after receiving their beloved pets' portrait. Click on any of the images to visit the progress pages.
I've completed all the Christmas commissions and took a well-deserved break to recharge. Now, I'm back in the studio, creating new articles and planning exciting art workshops for 2018 on my Step by Step Art website. There are numerous tasks to accomplish behind the scenes. If you're interested in booking a personalized commission or are an artist searching for helpful articles, mini-tutorials, and a chance to attend a 1-day art workshop with me, click on the links below to visit my website.
Here's hoping 2018 is a wonderful year for you!
Hi All! It's been a while since I've updated my news page. I've been swamped with work here in the studio. In August, I wrapped up my last art workshop of the year. Today, I'd like to share some of my latest acrylic paintings with you.
I have a list of paintings I need to start and some to finish. I recently added more shelves to my studio to accommodate all my portraits. I like to work on multiple pieces simultaneously and switch between different mediums, which works best for me. Currently, I have many paintings at various stages of completion, with more nearing the end than just starting. I want to share a couple of recent uncompleted works that I have been working on recently.
Amethyst Sunbird on Red Hot Poker
I recently discovered Scotch Macaskill's Reference photos website, which has reignited my passion for bird art. Scotch, an amateur photographer based in South Africa, captures stunning photos of the country's wildlife during his safaris using whatever camera he has available.
I have collected many reference images from the photographer's website because he has some stunning wildlife portraits.Check out one of my latest works, a male Amethyst Sunbird feeding on a Red Hot Poker flower (also known as a Torch Lily).
Haze the Black Labrador
John and I love to take our four dogs for a stroll on the weekends. Seeing them frolicking in the local lake is always fun—an excellent opportunity to get some fantastic pictures of them. I've decided to convert some of my photos to paintings. With four cherished reference photos, I've already completed a portrait of our Springer Spaniel, Casper. My primary objective is to craft a vibrant representation of our beloved Labrador, Haze. The slideshow below showcases the evolution of this painting in four distinct stages.
When it comes to creating my art, I always begin by carefully crafting the background first. This sets the tone and provides a foundation for the main subject to come to life. Once the background is just right, I shift my focus to the subject, ensuring that I perfect the fine detail and that the overall composition is balanced. This methodical approach has proven highly effective in producing captivating pieces that stand out.
Thank you for taking the time to view my post. If you found it interesting, please feel free to like it or leave a comment below.
The latest articles available at www.stepbystepart.co.uk
I have some great news: I've created an art-focused website catering to beginners and experienced artists. You can visit www.stepbystepart.co.uk to read the latest articles and explore my art workshops and tutoring. Recently, I uploaded four new articles that might interest you - especially if you enjoy working with coloured pencils. However, if you prefer graphite or watercolours, there's something for you too! You can learn about tonal paper and how it can enhance your work, try the tonal layering exercise with your pencils, and even explore the benefits of HP watercolour papers. These resources will be helpful in your artistic pursuits.
New articles coming soon to Step by Step Art
Unfortunately, I could not send out the Winter Newsletter due to being occupied with commission work in December. However, I am thrilled to announce that I will release four new articles at the start of May. These articles will provide valuable insights on soft pastels, specifically Unison pastels, and a step-by-step guide for those new to pastel art on creating a tonal sky. Additionally, there will be two "Starting Out" articles. The first, written by Welsh Artist Chris Chalk, will focus on the three essential items necessary to begin your oil painting journey. The second, written by myself, will offer guidance on starting with coloured pencils. If you want to receive the Step by Step Art newsletter, you can find more information about it here. Keep yourself informed by subscribing today to get the latest updates.
1 Day Art Workshops in Chesterfield, Derbyshire
I will be hosting unique 1-day workshops beginning in May that will teach participants how to create complex artwork using coloured pencils, graphite pencils, or acrylic paints. There are still a few spots left for those who want to attend one of the four workshops. As always; I will provide frequent demonstrations and personal assistance throughout the day. Attendees will also receive a comprehensive booklet with step-by-step instructions and images to guide them. It's important to note that each workshop only allows a maximum of 10 participants to ensure individual attention and support.
DETAILS HAVE BEEN REMOVED AS THE WORKSHOPS HAVE BEEN COMPLETED
Why not check out our current art workshops
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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.
Karen M Berisford