Portraits explained

My unique watercolour pet portraits

Example image of dog portrait painted from photo

The professionally made portrait you will get from me can show the true spirit of your animal much better than a quick snapshot can. Check out the video on my ArtLearn Studio You Tube channel. I always take time to interpret your photographs artistically – after all, what would be the point in having a painting or drawing that’s an exact replica of your photograph? Only by careful study and combining references can I bring out the personality of your animal. This may involve adjusting a pose for the best composition, or painting some areas with higher contrast while toning down others, to create a feeling of depth and three-dimensions, that really make the finished painting ‘pop’ off the paper.

Here’s a quick overview of how I make them

Steve-completing artwork Gentoo Penguin PursuitFirstly, I set to work in the studio making a selection of the best photographs or studying the pose you prefer. It’s at this point I may wish to contact you for clarification of any detail or if I need more colour information. I may also suggest a different pose if I think it works better artistically, giving you a better end result.

The photographs are scanned digitally to alter contrast and to help me see as much detail as possible. A basic line drawing is then made emphasising the areas I wish to define and this is transferred to the painting or drawing surface attached to the board or easel. For a painting I will start by using large round wash brushes – size 6 or larger – to block in areas of colour or shadow with mainly Winsor & Newton brand watercolour paints, usually opting for the subtle texture of Saunders Waterford cold-pressed paper. As it progresses, I refer less to the photographs and focus more on developing it artistically, using finer brushes – size 3 and smaller – for detail such as fur and whiskers. The graphite pencil drawings are made at a smaller size but they still have a high level of detail being produced on fine-textured Bristol board using a range of 0.5mm clutch pencils. Finally I refer back to the photographs one last time to make sure I’ve created a portrait both you and I will be pleased with. Only the highest quality artists paints, papers, drawing surfaces and acid-free mounts are used which ensure your portrait will last for many years to come.

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