A start to finish look at the recent pastel portrait commission for 3 horses together. I enjoy doing these portraits so time flies by when I’m working on them, but when I see just the original outlines again, it makes me realise just how much thought and effort it took to bring these horses into someone’s living room! One by one the horses appear…. Love this portrait!
A while ago, I did this portrait of Henry, it was commissioned as a present for a friend. Now all my portraits receive the same standard of work regardless of the price, as close to perfection as the photograph supplied and tools of the job will allow. Only when you can just about stroke the hairs on the portrait as though the actual animal was there in the room with you, is the portrait done! But I rarely know much about the dog whose portrait I am producing. I’ve been recently trying to track down some details of the animals featured in my portraits retrospectively and I received this touching account of Henry’s life from his owner Mark. Henry sounded a terrific dog, I wish I’d met him!
“Henry was a terrier cross, born in December 1998, who came into my life on 25th February, 1999. When I first met him, at a rescue centre in the north of England, his future looked bleak: he had suffered a series of fits, and the vet had doubts about homing him. The centre made it clear that he could be returned if there was a problem, but, of course, that was never going to happen.
Henry did have the occasional, very mild fit, probably one or two a year, where he would go quiet, and still, and be a bit unsteady on his feet. They never lasted longer than five minutes, during which time I would close the blinds and sit or lay by his side so he would know he wasn’t alone. After ten or fifteen minutes it would all be forgotten.
Those little incidents aside, he went on to live a long and happy life, most of it in my company, 24 hours day. He was a timid boy who never showed an ounce of aggression, but who loved to chase a ball or a stick and go for long walks in the countryside.
After the first few weeks at home, when he was under the vet’s guidance, he lived on a vegan, occasionally vegetarian diet, and was very healthy and happy. Up until the last six months he was fit and active and still enjoying long walks.
Henry left this world on Independence Day, July 4th, 2015. The photograph on which Andrew based his work was taken the day before, and shows Henry wearing a harness which was left on permanently so he could be given a hand when needed. Andrew painted it out with great skill for the portrait.
My life and the world changed after Henry died. Andrew’s wonderful portrait, a marvellous and totally unexpected birthday present from my best friend, captured his spirit, character and appearance perfectly, so much so that it is as if I see my boy and not just a representation. It hangs now in my sitting room, will always have pride of place wherever I live, and is one of my most treasured possessions.”
There’s a famous horse portrait that most people in the equine world will be familiar with, and I’ve often heard it’s title used as shorthand for describing a portrait of three horses together. The painting is by Susan Crawford and shows the iconic racehorses Arkle, Red Rum and Desert Orchid. Whilst the horses in my latest portrait may not quite as famous, they are still lending their great looks and colouring to create their own fabulous portrait.
Shown at the start as outlines, then with the first head largely done followed by the second and am currently on with third, then back over them all for final finishing and tweaks….
The perfect present for someone who has everything!
As I write this a few days into Autumn, we are still enjoying the sun and mild weather of summer and trying not to wish the year away by turning our thoughts to Christmas. But as an artist who produces portraits intended as Christmas presents there are only so many portraits that can be produced in the remaining few weeks of the year, so October is the time to give some thought to your possible plans for pet portraits intended as Christmas presents. I like to have them all finished two weeks before Christmas to take into account any problems that may arise with delivery or a portrait taking longer to do than anticipated. Delivery dates for portraits throughout the year are generally flexible, sometimes they are a little quicker to do, sometimes they take a little longer but unfortunately Christmas Day waits for no one! I often get enquiries for portraits a week or more into December and unfortunately I can’t fulfil these orders.
If you are thinking of a pet portrait as a Christmas present, please contact the artist at your earliest opportunity.
My non-animal artwork received a boost earlier this month when my application to join the Guild of Railway Artists was accepted. The interview involved taking several railway paintings to Dawlish to be scrutinised by a panel of judges in a closed viewing. After what can’t have been more than 3 minutes, I received the message, “You’re in…” I am now an Associate member of the Guild. The interview took place at the home of railway artist, Philip D. Hawkins, whose book of railway paintings I bought 10 years ago from a local bookshop! (I took my copy with me and he duly signed it whilst it was still sat in the boot of my car!) I’m over the moon to join this exclusive group of artists and follow in the ‘tracks’ of one of my favourite artists, Terence Cuneo (1907-1996), also a painter of horses and railways.
Commissioned to remember Cassie who had recently passed away after 14 happy years with the family, this dog portrait was scanned in several times during it’s development to produce a start to finish animation of the process, showing a portrait coming to life! The best photo was chosen from a selection of four high quality photos sent by the owner and the background colour, mottled grey, was selected to compliment the colours of Cassie’s coat with her name displayed in the ‘Freestyle Script’ font.
Two recent commissions were for pencil portraits, one using a customer’s favourite photo of them riding their horse ‘Bouncer’ during a rather scary looking jump. Produced A4 size, the pencil sketch really came out well though the difficult area to do wasn’t the area you’d expect it to be … The horse and rider were straightforward to do, it was the hedge that was the challenge in this portrait! The second portrait, a head shot of ‘Aisha’, drawn on a board 20″ x 16″, was much more straightforward to do even if it did mean trying to get large areas as dark as possible with a pencil to give enough contrast with the highlights. Potentially it could have been a very smudgy affair, but I’m really impressed with how it turned out, even managed to get the headband to look suitably sparkly! And the rider shown in the sketch of ‘Bouncer’ said it was definately ‘her’ in the portrait! The pupil of her eye was no more than a carefully placed tip of 0.5mm propelling pencil…. She could have looked very different …
There’s been a Yorkshire Pet Portraits display in the visitor’s marquee at Port Royal Equestrian Centre. Their Holme-On-Spalding-Moor facilities, half way between York and Hull, has many show jumping and dressage events taking place at the moment. It’s the ideal opportunity to meet potential customers and show off a variety of pet portraits. Though on the first day I attended I was glad to be hidden away in the marquee all day rather than charging around on a horse in the unbelievable summer heat!
It has been suggested by marketing whizz that the Yorkshire Pet Portraits website should have a photo of the customer with their finished portraits… Now I don’t like having my photograph taken any more than the next person but I have begrudgingly put one on the site and two wonderful customers have already sent me theirs! If anyone wishes to participate and have a similar photo on the website (holding your dog is above and beyond the call of duty but if you can… ) then please feel free to send one to: email@example.com. It will greatly appreciated!