My sister-in-law had the last of her hand operations on Wednesday and I took her to the hospital. Those of you who have ever experienced this will know that it involves a lot of waiting around, not least of all while the patient is in surgery. So it was rude not to take my work with me…
There was I sitting in the plastic surgery unit with William; the lighting was fantastic and I made lots of progress!
Today we are with some great friends at their beautiful home which they have re-developed. John is in his element doing a photo-shoot and I have had a wonderful relaxing afternoon drinking wine, catching up and putting the finishing touches to William.
Have a look at the results here…
…starting an oil piece ‘Her majesty, Queen Amber’ and developing the sketch for a Christmas card for the Haworth Cast rescue organisation.
You can see from the gallery that I’ve got to the first level of detail on the second image. Once I’ve finished the third image I will add more detail to the whole picture and the final tweaks of contrast.
Hopefully we will have a finished piece by the end of the week!
Well I spent 3 days a the ‘Just Dogs Live event’ in Peterborough – Fri, Sat & Sun drawing cats ;0)
Nobody seemed to mind and they roused lots of interest.
It was extremely hot, so there weren’t as many people at the display rings as expected. Mostly poeple were showing the dogs then taking them home out of the heat. At least our trade stands were in the cool.
As for the strange people who took their dogs to a dog show and left them in their cars in 30 degree heat – well don’t get me started!
Quick move on….
Here’s Sonnet, finished except for his whiskers.
Now it’s Jasper’s turn for some eye make-up. I love this shot ‘cos his eyes look like they’ve been glued in!
The next few shots show the build up of Jasper’s features in the same way that I’ve created all the other cats. Starting with his tash, then the rest of his facial features.
In this shot he’s almost done, since this shot I’ve checked a couple of my other reference shots to get his feet right and darkened up his paws a little on top.
What about the mouse?
You remember that I said that the space was crying out for some kind of toy? Well I used one of Amber’s toys as reference to create a little blue mouse that just fits in there nicely…
…there is still a little tweaking to do, I have strengthened and added more shadows since this shot. I just need to darken up Shadow’s fur a little now that I have all the cats in.
Expect to see the signed finished article on Friday…
Plagued by thunder flies It’s amazing how many people have never heard of thunder flies. I thought you got them everywhere – maybe people call them something different. They’re those miniscule 2mm long black flies that love the corn so much…and at this time of year they appear to love everything else too. For an artist it’s a nightmare as they get into paintings under the galss and you end up with a little flurry of them collected in the corner of white mounts.
This year they have managed to slip inside my PC screen and my laptop screen – actually inching their way throufh the liquid crystal until they can go no further. Now I hvae strage little commas in the documents that I write until I realise that it’s a thunder fly!
Anyway that’s not what you came here for is it?
I have been cracking on a pace with the Bengal family and shortly I’ll be starting on Jasper – the last cat in the piece.
Here’s Carminah 90% finished – no whiskers yet. Her eyes are amazing colours, clearly she’s at that age here where they’re still deciding what colour they should be! There are flecks of almost everything in there.
I ‘discovered’ a blue stuffed mouse in
Ambers toy basket and thought that it would complement the rusts and ochres in the piece, but before I could do anything with it, Amber decided that I couldn’t play with her toys and has whisked it away somewhere, so now I have to hunt the mouse…
Having finished Carminah for now, I started on Sonnet. The next few shots follow the same pattern as before with a start on the eyes and then slowly building up the layers from blocks of colour to detail. Here’s a shot of all the family so far…
Here you can clearly see the layers building.
For some reason, Sonnet does not look happy to be having his photo taken herewhich I think adds to the character of the piece. They all have their own particular expressions.
In these two images you can see how the whole thing starts to change as the dark tones are strengthened. Each cat that is finished anges the whole look of the composition. Spirit is very striking in his markings and fairly vibrant and Sonnet balances this out nicely. At the moment Shadow stands out as the palest of the bunch, but once I start on Jasper, these two will balance up nicely.
You will find me this weekend – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – at the East of England showground in Peterborough at “Just Dogs Live!”. No doubt I will be putting the finishing touches to this piece and starting on the next commission.
If you get a chance to go – I might see you there.
Well what a busy weekend! Had my mother-in-law, Pauline, with us for the weekend as she is moving from Luton up to Rushden into an assisted living apartment – a big upheaval for an 80 year old!
Anyway, we toddled off to the Hollowell Steam Rally and Heavy Horse show, mainly because she adores horses and also because I wanted to photo’s of them. Let me tell you, pushing a wheelchair up and down those hills gives you muscles on muscles. I could have a rant (as my friend Sue would say in her blog) here about the number of people who moaned about the fact that we had taken a wheelchair to the event! But I was a good girl and just thought at them that they should be grateful that they don’t have to use one.
Anyway got some good horse shots for future paintings and some wonderful shots of owls and falcons.
Eventually everyone went home and I was left to the peace and quiet of my artwork…
Heres a (rather grainy) shot of Shadow – I have tweaked the colour of his eyes a little as they were a little too green before.
When you look at the group shot you can see that there’s now a difference between Spirit and Shadow. Still need a little more work, but that will come once I have all the cats finished. I started adding more body colour to Inca and defining the markings on his head, then strengthening the darks.
Again, Inca has lovely markings and wonderful flecks of light over the dark. You can just see in the last shot that I had started adding undercolour to the kitten, Carminah, too.
As will all the others, I started with the eyes, then added the under colour before moving on to defining the markings. I need to sort through my reference shots now to find a good shot of her tail. She was unhelpfully sitting on it when Tracey took this body shot – who would work with animals eh? ;0)
I definately want to place a toy in that space between her and Spirit as she has that mischeivious look in her eye! So while you look at the group shot so far, I’m off to raid Amber’s toy basket!
This is the life! My lovely husband has just made me the most luscious large, foamy cappuccino, (I knew that coffee machine pressie was a stroke of genious ;0) ), with 3 jaffa cakes on the side; which leaves me in the ideal position to tell you about the progress with the Bengal 6.
So when we last spoke I had just started on Spirit. Since then, I have completed the Open University assignment that is due tomorrow and had time to get out the pencils! So you can see from this shot that I carried on building up the layers in Spirit’s body fur. He has such amazingly rich markings that he almost glows.
Here’s a closer look – I love this alert expression that he has – almost like he’s about to pounce on you! At this point I also started to add some shadow and depth under and around him. I should mention that these images were taken with my iPhone! John (hubby) was doing a lecture the other evening at a camera club in Kempston and it was such a beautiful evening that I decided to go along and take my work with me so that I could sit in the car and do it, but I forgot to take my camera.
Anyway they are not too bad, maybe a little grainy, but you get the idea.
This image makes me smile. It shows an almost finished Spirit – I say almost because in both shadow and Spirit the whiskers are missing. These are usually the last things to add and it’s amazing the difference they make. I always have to stop myself adding them at this stage because invariably I’ll want to strengthen the background or shadows which means going over any whiskers that are in the way. I smile because in this shot you can just see a ‘naked’ Carminah peeping in – looks like she’s saying “What about me?”
Now it’s Inca’s turn.
The base colour coat for the eyes is first then the underpainting for the blocks of colour in the face.
Comparing these two images you can see how brave you have to be with these areas of colour. The raw Sienna colour is aptly named as it does seem quite raw on it’s own, but by the time the graphite tail is added on top everything begins to calm down a little.
You can see the difference here that the darker top of the head and detail over the Sienna makes. You can also see here that I’ve started to add a suggestion of colour to Inca’s body.
This is the wider shot that I took just before I added the detail to Inca’s head, but you can see how the whole is starting to pull together with the background and shadows slowly starting to build. I’m off to finish Inca now and start on the kitten.
I’m sure that space between the kitten and Spirit is crying out for a toy!
At last, I managed to get some quality time this week with the Bengal 6! This weekend I was at a cat show in Peterborough and this little family caused quite a stir…
So, you’ll remember that we got as far as the outline last week…now was time to start some proper work.
This is a portrait on light grey velour in pastel. Mostly the blocking in is done with stick pastels which are great for larger areas, then for the fine detail I used Derwent and Pitt Pastel pencils.
With such a large piece I like to make sure that I start on the left most side (as you look at it). Since I’m right-handed, working from left to right ensures that I’m not smudging work I’ve already done.
I started with Shadow (I love their names) and as ever I started with the eyes…and suddenly there he is.
Next is to block in the main under-colours. Bengals have exquisite markings and their coats are almost luminous, so a vibrant undercoat helps to develop the depth of colour that you see in their coats.
Here’s a closer look. You can see where I’ve started to go over the undercoat on the nose the brightness of the yellow ochre is still coming through.
These photographs give a good idea about the colour, but they were shot in a hall with flourescent lights. And no matter how much you compensate in the camera, the images don’t really compare to seeing the thing in real life.
At this point I leave the face for a little while to add some body colour. This helps me with the overall blending of colour and I can flip back and forth between the face detail and the body colour. I find that graphite pencil is ideal for adding very fine detail into the face. Again when you sudy the lighter bengals they have a layer of fine, but darker, hairs that add depth to the colour.
Adding a little background colour here helps Shadow to stand out and suddenly creates a much more 3D image. The background will be refined as I gradually work on each of the cats in turn.
You can see in the images on the right and below that I’ve started to build up the layers in the body and the face.
I think it’s always interesting to look back at the outline to see how the piece is gradually starting to come alive. The outline of Spirit looks almost bizarre against the work on Shadow.
Finally, I get to a stage with Shadow where I am happy enough to move on to work on Spirit. This desn’t mean that Shadow is finished. He will be tweaked (in the nicest possible way!) as I work on the other cats.
Starting work on Spirit
OK, so now I’m ready to start on Spirit’s eyes.
In this image you can also see that I’ve started to block in some colour around the nose and eyes. As I mentioned earlier, at this stage it looks a little too vibrant, but remember that this is under-colour and there is a layer of detail to go on top.
I got so engrossed in Spirits face here that I nearly forgot that I was photographing the progress ;0). So there’s a bit of a jump here.
There were lots of Bengals at the cat show that I was at, so you can imagine the interest in this piece. My order book is once again stuffed with reference photos…
So here are my final two shots for this installment. Spirit is still looking like a little tiger on the image in the left as there is a layer of dark to go on top of this colour.
the final shot on the left shows progress so far with Spirit against his brother…
Come back for part four to see Spirit completed and work on Inca and the kitten…
I’m very excited to be starting my next comission as I’ve always wanted to draw these beautiful cats.
Tracey and Steve Fordham have a lovely family of Bengal cats and we met at a recent cat show. They were keen to commission a ‘family’ portrait with all five of their cats, so Tracey got to work collating all of their best photos and sending them on to me.
On the left is Spirit – we met at the show and apparently he is inseparable from his brother Shadow who you can see on the right here
Next is Sonnet on the left and Inca on the right and finally you can see Jasper in the shot below.
We had chatted a little about the layout at the show, but I had a little time to think about such a large piece as Tracey and Steve were off on a Med cruise. When we caught up to plan the layout in more detail, Tracey had news! A sweet new addition to the family – a kitten called Carminah. So now there were 6 in the family portrait.
The next job was how to layout the composition. Bengals are known for their highly distinctive spotted patterning. This results from their origins – crossings between small wild cats and domestic cats. Carminah in particular has spectacular markings and Tracey wanted to capture this in the finished piece, so she spent many hours trying to entice Carminah to look at the camera. Now if you’ve ever tried to photograph a cat that won’t look at you, you’ll know you’re on a hiding to nothing ;0)
For an artist this is where photoshop comes into its own. For portraits with several subjects it’s important that the client is able to have an idea of what the finished portrait will look like. Photoshop is great for creating mock-ups of compositions and the speed means that you can involve the client every step of the way. Tracey had two great shots of Carminah which we decided would work well.
We wanted the back shot from first picture with the head shot from the second, so with a bit of jiggery-pokery we ended up with this – a workable reference shot for me to work from.
In part 2 of this project I’ll show you how we worked on the layout to agree the final composition.