For this post, I though I would post up a step by step guide of how I complete a pet portrait. I very rarely manage to take photo’s of the process all the way through but, Andy pointed out that people often like to know how a piece of art comes about.This is Holly, a labrador and I used a photo reference from Paint my Photo.
Initially I start with a drawing putting in as much detail as I can until I am happy with the overall look.
Being right-handed, I always start on the left uppermost corner. Using any kind of medium in black and I will inevitably smudge it if I don’t work systematically ~ as it is invariably I end up looking somewhat sooty I use little strokes in pastel in the same direction as the fur making sure that I leave in the highlights where the fur catches the light.
I continue working across and downwards mainly just in black pastel until I get to the eye. When I am detailing the eyes, I always put in the white light highlights initially and then a layer of yellow. Whilst this initially looks quite odd, it builds some depth into the eye.
I will then input the pupil and start adding colours to the iris, fanning out from the pupil like a star.
For the next stage I continue with the fur and also turn my attention to the nose. The top of a dog’s nose catches the light but it is usually textured so to provide this texture I cover the top of the nose in small white dots.
It is at this stage that I will introduce a little more colour, in this case Holly has a certain peachy colour around the nose area in particular. When I feel happy, I will then use a Q tip and gently blend my strokes. As I build the tones around the nose, attention is paid to those areas that are dark like the nostrils and ensuring that I get the shape of them accurate. It is small features like this that really do determine the animal. If you look at several Labrador’s, I can almost guarantee that they will not look the same. A lot like people really!
I continue in the same manner as previously being careful to adjust little things as I go but also not too much. Seeing half an animal can skew the perspective and I am always glad to get in the second eye so I see the whole thing coming together.
Finally the finished piece!
Posted by Chrissy Marie on April 17, 2012
I find it terribly difficult to write an artist’s statement. In fact most of the ones I have written are in my own words “garbage. With my time in salaried employment rapidly coming to an end, I am trying to polish up my websites and literature to promote my art and photography.
People that know me will know that I have a passion for wildlife that is my saviour. It is that time spent outdoors that calms my mind, the first flowers after the winter soothe my soul and those fleeting magical experiences and brushes with the wild are wonders to make me smile. I am at my happiest watching butterflies in the meadow, watching the birds gathering food or wading through muddy ponds and streams delighting in the dragonfly wings.
The winter is not easy for me, it restricts my outdoor activities, the lack of light reflects upon my mood and of course my photography also takes a back step because winter scenes do not inspire me terribly.
This is probably why writing a statement right now is so difficult. I also find it very difficult in any way shape or form to be pretentious and I like to introduce a little humour somewhere because otherwise it is just not me. So, I am trying to formulate my thoughts to explain my art.
Lets be honest my art is pretty much always animals, birds and insects through choice. Although it has been said that my pieces are of photographic quality, in fact they are not and I don’t ever aim for them to be so. I try to portray the creatures as I see them. Through my eyes I see many things depending on the subject. In big cats I see a wild spirit, that beautiful intentness that they need to survive and the vulnerability that is inherent in them all.
In pet portraits, I see real characters sometimes tough, sometimes soft but they all have traits of their own. The most amazing thing that I realise as time goes on is the differences between them. I have been requested in the past to do archetypal pieces but, it is impossible. If you were to take five different animals of the same breed, every one of them will be different in a unique way ~ just like people.
When I work on birds, inevitably they are a shared moment. There will be a time where I have been privileged enough to be in their space for an intimate snapshot in time. Although I often work from photo’s, I hold that moment in my head and can see it, the photo merely provides me with the detail for technique.
So how do I fit all of that into an artist’s statement? Hmmm, I think I will procrastinate a little longer and write it in the Spring!
Posted by Chrissy Marie on February 16, 2012
Posted by Chrissy Marie on April 18, 2010