I want to share my recent art commissions with you. The portraits feature Mindy, a lovely Calico shorthair with one eye. A loving husband commissioned them as a special gift for his wife on their golden wedding anniversary, which is today. I am hoping that Maureen will cherish them.
I spent about seven weeks creating these paintings using GOLDEN heavy body acrylics on Ampersand Gessobord. I am very detail-oriented and used a sword liner to apply every strand of fur, from short hairs to long whiskers. I worked on both paintings intermittently in between other tasks.
The painting is 12" x 12" in size and was framed in the beautiful Windermere Bronze moulding. An acrylic painting is not framed behind glass, but a couple of protective layers were applied, to preserve it for many years to come.
This is the final painting of the second portrait of Mindy, which measures 12" x 16" and is painted with acrylic. Mindy's owner, Michael, provided me with numerous high-quality digital photos of Mindy. These photos were used as a reference for creating the portrait, ensuring that every detail and colour was accurately represented.
If you are interested in commissioning your own bespoke portrait, you can find out more on our COMMISSIONS page.
The completed paintings were carefully wrapped and packed with two certificates of authenticity and a sheet on how to care for acrylic paintings. I'm sure these paintings will be appreciated for many years to come.
Happy anniversary to Michael and Maureen
Fortunately, the weather has been great here in Newbiggin by the Sea. My partner John Graham and I have taken advantage of the warm, sunny days by going on bike rides along the coast. After being limited in our movements due to the Covid-19 lockdown for seven weeks, it felt amazing to enjoy the beauty of the Northumberland coastline again. I've included some photos from our bike ride and some recent artwork I've been working on. Lastly, I wanted to share that John spotted a rare bird in Newbiggin. Please keep reading to see what bird it was.
Newbiggin in the sun
Last week, John and I went for a bike ride along the coast. We took a break at Beacon's Point, a popular spot for birdwatchers known to have rare birds occasionally. We enjoyed the warm weather and took some time to relax on the cliff edge before moving on towards Lynemouth power station, hoping to spot some Flycatchers and Whinchats. We followed a path alongside the golf course covered in gorse bushes, providing an ideal bird nesting place.
'On the Easel' - Kingfisher in Acrylics
I have had some relaxing evenings in the studio recently. Having set my sights on completing some of my unfinished paintings, which have been sitting on the shelf for a while, I got the paints back out. The Kingfisher painting is a simple composition, making the final piece compelling. This bird overpowers its drab surroundings, so extra detail is optional. I created the wooden post using a mix of paint and texture gel, and the raindrops added at the end helped frame the bird perfectly. This 9" x 12" acrylic painting is available for sale, framed or unframed. You can see some framed examples below.
Get in touch for details about purchasing this painting.
Last year, John took this reference image used for this painting. The area around him was filled with open fields and small wooded areas, providing abundant wildlife. One morning, a Kingfisher landed on a wooden post and posed momentarily, allowing John to capture a few images before it flew away.
'On the Easel' - Bullfinch & Apple Blossom acrylic painting
I made this painting by combining two reference images - one of a Bullfinch and the other of apple blossoms. Near my home, there's a cycle path lined with apple blossom trees where I often spot Bullfinches. However, I couldn't capture a photo of the bird and the blossoms simultaneously. So, I used a Bullfinch image taken by John. The painting is 8" x 8" and made with acrylic. It is now available for sale, either framed or unframed. If you want to purchase this portrait, don't hesitate to contact me for more details.
What a find!
One morning, John was lucky to spot a beautiful European Bee-Eater flying over a nearby lake. Despite being far away, the Bee-Eater was easily recognizable due to its long beak and bright colours. While there have been reports of Bee-Eaters in other parts of the country, this was the first sighting of one in Newbiggin by the sea.
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.
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
If someone might enjoy reading this article, please share it on Twitter or click the 'Like' button on Facebook. If you have any questions about any part of this post or would like to leave a comment, please get in touch, and I will respond as soon as possible.
Karen M Berisford
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!
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 customer only had a few photos of Kita, having recently lost her, and I was limited to flash photos. The reference image was a good pose, but as flash distorts colour and detail, I had to research the breed and add a little artistic licence. The image was also slightly out of focus, but I found that I was able to apply a lot of detail by overworking the fur, and the final portrait was far more detailed than I thought possible. The final painting was framed in a black moulding called ASHGATE, which accentuated the light tones in Kita's fur.
"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!"
Karen M Berisford
1956 Vintage Montclair
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