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.
This year I was extremely busy with Christmas Commissions - I had 5 to complete in the space of 6 weeks, normally a portrait can take 3 - 5 weeks each so it was a very busy time. All were completed and delivered out to the Commissionees and here are the portraits alongside information on each and the customer testimonials.
"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."
"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!
"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"
"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"
"Thank you so much for my beautiful portrait, you've really excelled yourself this time, its amazing!"
After 10 days away from the Art Studio visiting family in my old home town of Chesterfield as well as fitting in a well needed holiday down South in Dover I am now back and catching up on work. Before I went away, I finalised the 5 new Articles that have been created within the webpages of my official Art tutoring website 'Step by Step Art'. Here's what you can find within it's pages - take a look at our ARTICLES page to find even more!
There are more new articles being created, information of which will be included in our Winter Newsletter - Sign up today if you wish to receive the latest information direct to your E-mail*
*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.
Murphie - Large Traditional Heart Memorial portrait
Murphie sadly passed away in December 2015 aged 20 years of age and her Mum was looking for something special as a memorial to Murphie and came across my Traditional Hearts portraits and got in touch. It is always a real challenge when it comes to black & white animals as you tend to find that a lot of definition is lost in photos as it is very difficult to strike a balance of these colours whilst still retaining detail however, through various layering of
paint colours including grey and brown tones added to the black fur and with greys added to the white fur I was able to create an equal balance of colour and detail to ensure perspectives were kept in check and the final portrait was as close a likeness to Murphie's photo as possible. Feedback from Murphie's Mum upon receipt told me that I had done a good job!
Bailey - 10" x 12" Coloured pencil pet portrait
Bailey is the second portrait completed in Coloured pencils for his Mum after heartbreakingly losing both Bailey and Casey (the first portrait) in close succession of each other and was gifted both portraits by a good friend. Bailey was originally sat on a green stripey rug but I thought it would suit the portraits if they were both sat on the same wooden
flooring so that they would compliment each other once framed and hung next to each other.
" Bailey just arrived! Well, about 15 minutes of tape removal ago. We are so chuffed! Bailey was loved by all of us, but loves my husband best, he was over the moon! We are blessed by your talent!
Obe - 11" x 14" Boxer Dog Acrylic painting
I was asked to create an Acrylic painting of Obie the Boxer dog as a surprise gift to a lady in the USA. The reference photo was a beautiful pose and of great quality and I was able to gather lots of detail from the reference image to create this special memorial painting of Obe.
All my Acrylic paintings are created using a mixture of professional paint colours and mediums which offer texture to the painting. The background texture was created using a palette knife and texture was limited on Obie himself except for a light layering of fur texture. Nearly 40 Facebook friends clubbed together to book this surprise portrait of Obe and it was lovely to hear how happy the recipient was upon receiving such a thoughtful gift from great friends!
It has been rather quiet on both my Social media & News blog with Art progress posts however I have been quietly busy with both pencils and paints recently and thought I would finally share updates so far.
I have been working on a double portrait of my friend and her little girl (not so little now though) for both their up and coming birthdays in May & June. The skin tones have been layered with still a little more to do to add the realism and the hair has had a heavy layer of brown undertones on to allow me to apply the finer hairs and lighter shades over the top. The stripey top is still in the loose stages but I am hoping to get this painting finished by the weekend. Both the Springer Spaniel painting & the Boxer dog are nearing completion but as these are not commissions, these will be left alone for a few weeks.
Coloured Pencil portraits
I currently have a couple of Coloured pencil Commissions on the Easel. An Airedale/Paterdale cross called Dave and a Jack Russell/Pug cross called Bailey. They are both still in the rough underlayers stage and the fine detail will be applied once the working area has been covered with the pencil base layers. I am applying a light application of tonal background to Dave's portrait before I can begin to apply heavy applications and layers over the top which will define him in both colour and detail.
If you wish to view more of my pencil works, you can find more in the COLOURED PENCIL GALLERY
Thinking of booking your own bespoke Commission?
Coloured pencil portraits are created on acid free, archival paper using lightfast quality pencils and if framed correctly, a pencil portrait can last a lifetime and beyond! (if protected & cared for correctly) Coloured pencil pet portraits start from just £150.00 and you can find more details on my COMMISSIONS page or fill in the form to request a no-obligation QUOTE.
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Thanks for visiting! Karen
Below are the Christmas commissions that were all completed and received as gifts for the special day - if you wish to see how they came together, please click on any of the images. If you are thinking of booking your own Commission with me and wish to know more, you can visit my COMMISSIONS page which explains the very simple process.
Help and advice is at hand if so....
For those who are not aware, I also have an official 'Step by Step Art' website that allows you to check out my current Workshops or take a look through Articles, written and via video (coming soon) on a plethora of Art related things including Coloured pencils, paper reviews and pencil reviews too. The Article section is still in the early stages but will continue to add to it as regular as I possibly can. My latest Article focus's on Coloured pencils and I decided to do a trial on different pencils that I currently have in my collection.
This article shows the 5 most important factors that I look for when selecting my professional pencil range:
The 5 'tests' shown in this article includes:
This article also gives information on the importance of paper weight (gsm), information on each pencil including costs (GBP) and lightfast ratings as well as my own thoughts on 'adapting to coloured pencils' . I hope that this will be of help to all Coloured pencil Artists out there from those starting out looking to buy their first range to those interested in how Coloured pencils compare.
The very popular Prismacolor Premier & Verithin ranges will also be added to this article very soon and an adaptation of this article (with even more information in) will be available to view and purchase (download or hard copy) from the USA's Colored pencil Magazine 'Student' version in the next few months.
Find out more about this magazine here: Colored pencil magazine - Student Edition
Printed copy $5.99 £3.87* Delivery (1 - 2 weeks) £2.96*
Karen M Berisford