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!
Cockapoo named ‘Shelby Cooper’ in oils … and car spray paint
This cute fella is named after a rare 1960’s racing car. The name Shelby Cobra will be familiar to many a car enthusiast but I must admit I had to research the Shelby Cooper. Racing car designer Carroll Shelby worked his magic again on the Cooper Monaco (Cooper of performance Mini fame) as he had done with the A.C. Cobra and six Shelby Coopers were produced for racing.
Lesson learned from last time – Don’t spray an artist’s canvas!
Rather than use a canvas board, the Cockapoo is painted on a sheet of ‘plasticard’. It’s a 3mm thick sheet of thin plastic used by model-makers. This surface lends itself to spraying as the background had to be sprayed with grey primer before the metallic Ford blue colour, the same as the actual cars, (well, as close as we could ascertain after hours rummaging on the internet for a paint name or colour code … ) was applied. I’d learnt on a similar painting, not to try spraying an artist’s canvas. (A portrait of a dog named after an Aston Martin) … The tiny fibres of the surface made it look as though a carpet had been sprayed! I wasn’t convinced I could spray two white lines neatly (even when masked!) so I cheated and used vinyl stripes again. Just like on real cars, they cheat too.
Finished similar to the real car
The reverse of the portrait has been finished in a brushed steel effect finish. This is a sticky vinyl sheet made for customising cars and refinishing kitchens, applied to a thin MDF board. The finishing touch is a black anodised aluminium plaque with the owner’s name and the famous Shelby Cobra snake badge. The logo is a hybrid of the Shelby Cobra badge combined with the Cooper lettering of the 1960s. The overall effect of the plaque and brushed aluminium was designed to replicate the engine bay of the real car.
The customer is happy!
The customer is amazed how lifelike the portrait his much-loved Shelby Cooper is and has jokingly christened it the ‘Shelbtrait’. It will be the perfect compliment to his portrait of Aston Martwyn…
Meteorologically, spring started yesterday. For the rest of us, we can officially put the gloom behind us on the 21st March, but luckily we have some bright, sunny days popping up now. I’m currently on with painting a pet portrait from a photo that I should really have declined due to it’s low resolution and grainy-ness but I’m amazed what a difference decent daylight is making to progress! Subtle differences in colours seem visible today, which I’m hastily applying to the photo, and it’s made a painfully slow and difficult pet portrait come to life very quickly. I had already ascertained painting in December is largely a non-starter if you are on a tight schedule, one year it was so bad that I concluded that painting directly from the backlit image on the tablet was the best option and only could see the real painting well enough to work on between the hours of 10am and 3pm! So perhaps another ‘trick-of-the-trade’ became apparent today to be filed away for future reference – Only paint portraits from ‘duff’ photos on bright, sunny days… if you haven’t remembered to decline the photo in the first place and ask for a better one … For more information on taking photographs of your pet suitable for portraits, please visit www.yorkshirepetportraits.co.uk
It would be awful if anyone felt left out of the portrait so a carefully constructed montage using several different photographs was created for this pastel portrait. I was initially concerned the sheer amount of pastel and resulting dust may be problematic in keeping colours vibrant and the detail sharp, but it’s surprising what you can do if you are very careful!